Cash for Applicance Clunkers

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Got a clunker refrigerator? You can get a rebate on that, too.

The cash for clunkers program took 700,000 gas-guzzlers off the road and helped sell a like amount of new cars to Americans enticed by the prospect of a check for up to $4,000.

Soon a similar program hopes to create similar results by offering rebates of up to $200 and perhaps even more to entice Americans to replace old, energy-hogging appliances with new Energy Star ones. The program is being funded by 300 million dollars of stimulus money which is now in the process of being distributed to individual states.

Unlike the cash-for-clunkers car program, however, this one isn’t nationally standardized: it’s up to individual states to decide which exact appliances will earn a rebate, how much that rebate will be, and even when to begin the program. So you’ll have to do a little digging to see if your state is participating, what they’re offering and when they’re going to start offering it.

Here are two places to start: first, visit EnergyStar.gov’s special offers search engine at http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=rebate.rebate_locator. Rebate or no rebate, this is a handy tool to check out any available appliance incentives, including special deals from manufacturers and retailers. So check it first not only to see if your state’s rebate program has kicked in yet, but also to learn of other available incentives.

To find out for sure one way or the other if your state’s program is up and running, contact your state’s energy office. There’s a handy listing of every state’s contact info at http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/state_energy_program/seo_contacts.cfm.

And if you decide that a couple of hundred bucks isn’t enough to get you out to your local appliance store, at least take care of the appliances you have so they last longer and operate better! Here’s a list of tips from our friends at Angie’s list:

  1. Clean the condenser coils on your refrigerator annually and check door seals to ensure they are airtight.
  2. Check air filters monthly and replace as needed.
  3. Replace washer fill hoses every five years.
  4. Avoid overloading the washing machine.
  5. Have the exhaust duct on the clothes dryer inspected and cleaned once a year. Clean the lint filter before each use.
  6. Don’t allow heavy grease buildup on the oven interior.
  7. Drain a quart of water from your water heater tank every three months to remove sediment that slows down heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater.
  8. Have regular service as recommended by the manufacturer.

Bottom line? If you’re in the appliance buying mood, the cash-for-appliance-clunkers program may provide even more incentive to go shopping. But if you’re not, at least maintain the ones you have so they’ll last longer and cost less to run. Then calculate your savings and earmark that dough for debt reduction or to increase your savings!

To see the Department of Energy’s press release on the program, visit http://www.energy.gov/7634.htm.

Stacy Johnson

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