The sequel to “Cash for Clunkers” might be called “Funds for Fridges.” The continuation to America’s ever-popular “Cash for Clunkers” program (which yielded 690,114 car turn-ins and new unit sales) will soon jump start a new “Cash for Appliances” program that’s coming to a utility near you this fall. The main difference, no trade-in is required, these are outright government sponsored rebates for refrigerators, furnaces, washers, dryers, dishwashers, air conditioners, etc.
Even though “Cash for Clunkers” is over for cars, more than 60 utilities across the U.S. will be offering money for recycled appliances such as refrigerators, washers, dryers, and more. The federal government will be offering rebates from $50 to $200 in support of consumers purchasing more energy-efficient appliances. The goal is simple: Take energy-sucking appliances out of homes and off energy grids, in favor of newer, more energy-efficient ones that will save consumers money, and conserve energy. As a byproduct of all the savings, home appliance manufacturers are counting their lucky stars. The government will help defray the costs of upgrading to Energy Star appliances in hopes families will actually purchase even in the midst of an economic recession. As you can imagine the home appliance supply chain has been devastated by the housing crisis. So the “Cash for Appliances” program accommodates the Obama administration’s triple bottom line, which stands to benefit: the environment, the economy and the consumer.
Supported as part of President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus plan, the Department of Energy will provide states with $300 million which will include these rebates in an effort to boost the economy, and also persuade and help citizens make a transition into a better green, energy-conserving lifestyle.
So there’s got to be a catch, right? Well, not really, this could be a winner across the board. The only unknown is how will the public react? Will this be as successful as “Cash for Clunkers” or is that even a fair benchmark? Let’s face it — driving away in your brand new ride is a lot sexier than installing a new dishwasher. A lot of these consumer oriented stimulus programs have “The Price is Right” feel to it – instead of Bob Barker announcing your bounty, you’ve got Steve Chu, the U.S. Secretary of Energy, padding your household expenses. However, this certainly is no game show. This is where the environment and the economy are on a collision course and our children’s future is up for grabs. The stakes are high.
Despite our good green intentions, money still talks. If green guilt doesn’t prompt mass action to protect Mother Earth perhaps greenbacks will – at least that’s what the feds are bargaining for. State applications for the “Cash for Appliances” funding are due by October 15th, 2009; consumers will probably see the rebates trickle down to their wallets in late November. Consumers should check their state’s energy department to see when the rebates are active and what makes and models are included. The Energy Department’s Recovery Act Web site is also a hub of information on stimulus funding and projects by state.
I encourage everybody to participate in this program. It seems to be a part of the stimulus program that is less centric on socioeconomic status. Best of all, the results are long-lasting as most appliances have a 10+ year useful life. That amount of time constitutes significant carbon emissions reductions as well as cumulative dollars saved.