Homeowners Cash In on Clunker Appliances

The Car Allowance Rebate System, better known as "Cash for Clunkers," was a big success in helping car owners trade in their old automobiles for new fuel-efficient ones back in July and August. Will a similar program to entice homeowners to swap out their old home appliances for new energy-efficient ones be just as popular?

A handful of states are set to begin appliance-rebate programs this month, while a few already initiated them in December. Thanks to funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, consumers who want to replace their old appliances with new ENERGY-STAR-qualified ones will receive rebates to do so.
Delaware, Kansas and Oregon already began their appliance rebate programs, while Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, Vermont and Wisconsin will launch theirs this month. Each state, plus five U.S. territories and the District of Columbia will receive funding "proportionate to its population compared to the total U.S. population, with a floor of no less than $100,000," according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

With more than $308.4 million set aside for this program, a state like Illinois, with a population that accounts for 4.18 percent of the total U.S. population, will receive a share of the funds that amounts to nearly $12.4 million.

All states and territories will have until February 2012 to spend all of the funds allotted to them, though the Department of Energy expects that the money will "go quickly."

Some states are using a two-phase approach, with rebates for different appliances being made available at different times of the year.

Rebates will apply to new energy-efficient appliances including clothes washers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, room air conditioners, residential water heaters and central heating and cooling equipment (HVAC).

The DOE notes that different appliances offer their own annual energy savings. Additionally, rebates differ from state-to-state because, "Every state has specific energy needs and the rebate program allows flexibility to design the right program for that particular state. For example, residents living in warm-weather states may benefit more from the use of energy-efficient air conditioners, while consumers in a cold-weather state would benefit more from efficient furnaces."

While the program is targeted at all consumers, states have the final say about who exactly will receive these funds. Some are likely to narrow down the pool of potential recipients to those in lower-income brackets.

Consumers should head to the Department of Energy's site dedicated to the these appliance rebate program to see when their states plan to launch one, and how theirs will work.

Appliances are the latest items for which people have tried to capitalize on the hype surrounding "Cash for Clunkers." There was also a "Cash for Caulkers" home-improvement proposal and a Cash for TV Clunkers proposal.
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