Home appliances to get Cash for Clunkers-like rebate

By the end of the year, the Energy Department expects consumers will be able to get a rebate from their state on EnergyStar-rated appliances and home heating and cooling equipment.

Martin LaMonica Former Staff writer, CNET News
Martin LaMonica is a senior writer covering green tech and cutting-edge technologies. He joined CNET in 2002 to cover enterprise IT and Web development and was previously executive editor of IT publication InfoWorld.
Martin LaMonica
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Now that you've dumped your gas-guzzling pick-up, maybe it's time to move that old fridge from the garage.

The Department of Energy is sponsoring a $300 million program, funded by the economic stimulus plan, that will let consumers get a rebate on an EnergyStar-rated appliance. It's modeled roughly like the Cash for Clunkers program, which is now ending, although trading in older home equipment isn't required.

The Energy Department has begun awarding funding for individual states. Maryland is getting a $5.4 million slice and will run the program through the Maryland Energy Administration, according to an article on Wednesday in the Baltimore Sun. Pennsylvania has also applied and is expected to receive $12 million, according to a report in the Reading Eagle.

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The program will be designed by individual states and U.S. territories, all of which are expected to participate. The rebates themselves could be administered directly by states, utilities, or some other third party, a Department of Energy representative said on Thursday.

States have flexibility to determine what will be covered but the Energy Department has suggested home goods that consume the most energy, including: air conditioners, washing machines, dryers, heating equipment, and refrigerators and freezers.

The final funding applications are due back to the Energy Department by the middle of October, which means that the rebates could be available later this year or early next year.

Utilities around the country already offer rebate programs for moving to more efficient home equipment. An often-cited example is the California Energy Commission which has set strict efficiency standards for refrigerators and other equipment, which has helped keep per capita electricity consumption nearly steady since the 1970s.

Already in place is an Energy Department program which will give homeowners a 30 percent tax credit up to $1,500 for energy-efficient equipment upgrades.