A Sequel With a Twist: Cash for Clunker Appliances
The government is offering an incentive to get rid of old, non energy efficient appliances and replace them with one that has the government's Energy Star approval rating.
The rebates will range from $50 for a new room air conditioner, to $100 for a washing machine, to $200 for a refrigerator.
Commerce officials said they don't expect the program to get underway until around March 1, and with just $3.5 million in stimulus allotted to the program, appliance dealers don't expect it to last into April.
Oklahoma Commerce Department officials estimate they will be able to give about 23,000 rebates.
By Alex Cameron, Oklahoma Impact Team
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Instead of trading in your old gas-guzzling car, the government is offering an incentive to get rid of your water guzzling washer, and your power hungry heat pump -- $300 million in stimulus cash for your clunker appliances.
The original cash for clunkers program last summer gave consumers willing to trade in their old cars and trucks a credit of up to $4,500 toward the purchase of a new, more fuel-efficient car. It boosted car sales but was criticized for shoddy execution.
"The Cash for Clunkers on automobiles was a paperwork nightmare. We’re very optimistic that this will be a lot smoother," said Lee Sherman, Hahn Appliance Warehouse CEO.
Lee Sherman said he certainly hopes so because, as CEO of Hahn Appliance Warehouse in Tulsa, he's one of those on the front lines.
"We've had customers for about three months now asking about this program,” Sherman said. "They come in wanting to get their energy rebates, and we have to tell 'them that, 'well, it's not in effect yet, and we really don't know all the details yet.'"
Available Appliance Credits
Clothes Washers $200
Room Air Conditioners $50
Water Heaters $100
Central Air Conditioners $100
Gas Furnaces $100
Ground Source Heat Pumps $250
The reason is simple. The details of the program are still being worked out.
"I’d like to say that it was going to be, walk up to the dealer, make your choice, get your $50 to $200, walk off with your appliance," said Vaughn Clark, Director of Community Development for the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. "It probably will not be that easy."
Clark said the state is contracting a third party to lay out the details and administer the program, but certain parameters have been set.
Under the program, formally known as the Energy Star program, mail-in rebates will be available to consumers who can verify they've taken their older, less efficient appliance out of service and are replacing it with one that has the government's Energy Star rating.
The rebates will range from $50, with the purchase of a new room air conditioner, to $100 for a washing machine, to $200 for a refrigerator.
However, several appliance dealers said they are somewhat underwhelmed.
Scott Weathers, of Weathers TV and Appliance in Edmond, said he's grateful for the incentive but isn't convinced the rebates are large enough to significantly impact sales.
"The only thing I can say is that most manufacturers rebates right now range anywhere from $200 for a single appliance to $500, in some cases for a whole kitchen of appliances. So, I'm not sure that, percentage-wise, it will be a huge incentive," Weathers said.
Sherman agreed but said the real incentive lies in the real savings consumers can realize, for example, with a washing machine that uses less water.
"You can save literally a $100, $150 a year in operating costs on a new high-efficiency front load [washer] over an old top-load. Refrigerator, you can probably save $50, $75 a year in operating costs over some of the old ones that are maybe fifteen, twenty years old," Sherman said.
Commerce officials said they don't expect the program to get underway until around March 1, and with just $3.5 million in stimulus allotted to it, appliance dealers don't expect it to last into April.
"It's probably going to be a pretty short program because the amount of money allocated is probably going to go pretty quickly. So it's probably only going to be a two-week window, that's our guess," Weathers said.
Not every major appliance will be included in the program. For example, dishwashers are not expected to be eligible for rebates. Commerce Department officials said that's because the potential savings offered through a dishwasher upgrade is relatively small.
Oklahoma Commerce Department officials estimate they will be able to give 23,000 rebates through the program.
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