By Maria Jose Subiria
To encourage energy conservation nationwide, the U.S. Department of Energy has set aside $300 million -- from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 -- to fund the ENERGY STAR appliance rebate program.
It has been dubbed by some as the "Cash For Appliances," somewhat similar to the federal government's "Cash For Clunkers" program earlier this year.
According to Chris Keilich, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Energy, the initiative was created to promote the purchase of energy-efficient appliances throughout the United States, and it will be administered by state energy offices.
"This is an administration initiative," she said, and part of the rationale behind it is that more than 70 percent of the energy used in most households is used by appliances: air conditioners, refrigerators, space heaters and water heaters.
Consumers, Keilich said, will be able to significantly save energy by replacing their old appliances with ENERGY STAR-rated, energy-saving products.
Georgia has been qualified for $9.3 million for the program. The Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority was required to submit an application to the federal government, to be approved for the funds, on Oct. 15, according to Shane Hix, director of public affairs for the authority. The state should be approved within several weeks, he said.
The Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority is currently developing the ENERGY STAR appliance rebate program for the state, from the ground up, Hix said. This includes deciding which appliances will qualify for the program, and the rebate amounts consumers will receive when they purchase new appliances.
"Simultaneously, as we are waiting for approval of the application, we are determining the appliances and the amount of the rebate," said Hix. "We are expecting the program to be available to consumers early next year."
Rebates will depend on the cost of the appliance, said Keilich, the U. S. Energy Department spokesperson, and may range from $50 to $250. "It depends on the state, on whether you get the rebate on point of sale, or if you have to mail it in," she said.
Consumers must purchase an ENERGY STAR-rated appliance listed by their state, which may include boilers, central air conditioners, clothes washers, dishwashers, freezers, oil and gas furnaces, heat pumps, refrigerators, room air conditioners and water heaters, said Keilich.
Keilich said the rebate program will not require consumers to trade in their old appliances for new ones. Appliance stores may take the old models from the consumers, such as clothes washers and refrigerators, when delivering their new appliances, she said.
Another break for consumers, Keilich said, is the Federal Tax Credit for Energy Efficiency, which allows them to receive up to $1,500 in tax credits for purchasing qualified energy-efficient products, approved by the federal government.
These products must be placed in service during the years of 2009 and 2010. Consumers may only claim energy-efficient items that have been bought for their residences, Keilich said. "It [program] is good for energy supply, and good for consumers' pocket books and bills," she said.
Consumers should visit www.energystar.gov, for more information on tax credit information, and www.energystar.gov, for information on the ENERGY STAR appliance rebate program.