'Cash for Appliances' program starts this spring

This year, you got paid for tossing out the clunker car. Next year, you'll be rewarded for getting rid of the energy-inefficient washer or fridge. Many states will be sponsoring a "Cash for Appliances" program, similar to "Cash for Clunkers" in that you'll be paid for doing a big spring cleaning of your old appliances and buying those labeled with the Energy Star seal.

This is part of the federal government's economic stimulus plan -- it set aside $300 million in rebates for buying energy-efficient products, and state governments had to send detailed plans to Washington by earlier this month to explain how they would give that money away. So unlike Cash for Clunkers, each state is in charge of its own Cash for Appliances program.

California, for example, will focus on rebates for just three standard appliances. It will give $100 for the purchase of an Energy Star-approved clothes washer, $75 for a refrigerator and $50 for a room air-conditioner. Those rebates are in addition to any additional rebates offered by the state utility company supplying your electricity and the appliance manufacturer you buy from. The program is supposed to start in early spring.