Cash for appliance clunker rebates: The when, where, how and best and worst

Washing machines
Washing machines

As the federal government's Cash for Appliance Clunkers program begins, consumers may find themselves in a stew of confusion over when clunker rebates are available, how much they'll get and from where.

The rebate clock is already ticking in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont and Wisconsin, and come February, residents of Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, New York and Rhode Island will be eligible for rebate deals. The rest of the states and territories will open their rebate programs in March and April, and some are even running second offer phases later in the year. See the chart below for a link to your state's program.

Wherever you live, the key to getting your biggest possible share of the rebate pot is understanding exactly what your state, local utility, retailer and new-appliance manufacturer are offering for your green-minded trouble ─ an equation you practically have to be a PhD to figure out.