When the U.S. government rolled out the "Cash for Clunkers" program in 2009, the instructions for consumers were pretty basic: trade in your old crappy car for a new efficient car and get a rebate up to $4,500.
Unfortunately the "Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate" program starting this year is not quite as simple as "Cash for Clunkers" (nor does it have a snappy name). Some are dubbing it "Cash for Appliance Clunkers," but that is a little misleading. Here is some basic information about the "Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate" program you should know: (Or feel free to not read this and just go to this Web page from the U.S. Department of Energy, which provides links to how the rebate program works in your state (or territory or district).
Cash Rules Everything Around Me
The program is designed to offer cash rebates to people buying energy-efficient appliances. The cash rebates typically range from $50 to $300 depending on what kind of appliance you are buying.
States Rights! or We're Not in Kansas Anymore
The program is running in the entire U.S., however, each state gets to decide how and when rebates are doled out. For instance, if you live in Florida, the rebate program is set to begin in April of this year. That means if you buy an energy-efficient appliance before April, you don't qualify for a rebate. If you live in Ohio, the rebate program is set to begin in March. If you live in Illinois, rebates for water heaters and heating and ventilation products began in January. Then on Earth Day (April 16), rebates for other Energy Star qualified appliances begin in Illinois. If you live in Kansas, the program is already over. Sorry Kansas readers, but on the bright side, your state still has the largest ball of twine in the world. The best way to see when the program begins in your state is to visit the official page on the U.S. Department of Energy Web site.
Going, Going, Gone
Each state was allotted a specific amount of money that could be used for rebates. Not every state received the same amount of money for rebates. When the money in your state runs out, the rebate program is over, which is what has happened in Kansas. If you want to see how much money your state was allotted, visit this page on the U.S. DOE Web site.
Something for Nothing
Unlike "Cash for Clunkers," you might qualify for an appliance rebate without replacing an old, energy-sucking appliance. For instance, the Illinois rebate program provides a 15-percent discount on certain Energy Star qualified appliances. Also in Illinois, you can get additional cash back if you have an old appliance and recycle it. These stipulations vary from state to state. Once again, the best way to see how the rebate program works in your state is to visit the U.S. DOE of Energy's Web page about this program.
More Fine Print
To get a rebate, you'll probably have to buy the appliances from qualified retailers. The state you live in should provide you with a list of qualified retailers. Each state can choose which type of appliances will qualify for a rebate. One state might only run rebates on heating and cooling appliances. Another might only run discounts on cooking appliances. States may also only give rebates to qualified consumers, like low-income consumers. If you think your state has a terrible rebate program, but your neighboring state has awesome one, you shouldn't try driving to your neighboring state to buy appliances. To get a rebate, you will usually have to provide proof that you live in the state you're buying your appliances from.
Yes, it would be hard to make the "Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate" program more confusing. But if you are planning on buying appliances this year, it is worth seeing what type of rebate your state is offering. You could get a bundle of money back. You could get a little money back. You might even be able to double dip and write off your purchase on your taxes. If this sounds appealing, then we can't stress this enough: visit this Web page from the U.S. DOE to find out how your state's rebate program works. And once again, sorry Kansas readers.