What Cash for Clunkers did for cars, the $300 million State Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program hopes to do for refrigerators, washers, and other appliances. Federal funding for this first-come, first-served program is expected to run out quickly, and the rebates aren't retroactive. Here's what you need to know:
Each state devised its own list of products, which might include boilers and furnaces as well as a wide range of appliances. Rebate amounts, also determined by the states, should be about $50 to $250, and it might be possible to combine them with manufacturer or utility rebates. You might have to turn in an appliance, but not necessarily an ancient "clunker." Go to www.energysavers.gov/rebates for specifics by state. Program updates and Ratings for most eligible products are at www.ConsumerReports.org/clunkers.
In general, only Energy Star products qualify, and several states might have more stringent rules. California, for example, will require washers to be rated Tier 2 or greater by the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (www.cee1.org).
Each state sets its own timetable. Several are coordinating start dates with Presidents' Day sales in February. Others are timing them to Earth Day in April. Most rebates will be available until the money runs out, which could take from a few weeks to a few months.
Dealers handled the paperwork for the Cash for Clunkers program for cars, but you have to submit the forms for an appliance rebate. A few states have point-of-sale rebates, but most will be mail-in; forms will be available through retailers or manufacturers. (See www.sears.com/energystar, and www.boschappliancerebates.com.)
Many states have recycling requirements or incentives. In Florida, for example, consumers can get an extra $75 with proof of haul-away.
Replacing a 16-year-old refrigerator could trim annual utility bills by $75. An upgraded furnace or central air conditioner can also yield big savings and might qualify you for up to $1,500 in federal energy tax credits in 2010.