Should you buy an energy-efficient appliance to take advantage of a 2010 government cash-back program? These guidelines will help you decide – and help you go about it.
- Step 1: File a rebate claim. Unlike the government's Cash for Clunkers car program, where the dealerships handled the paperwork, you'll be responsible for completing and mailing in the forms provided by participating retailers.
- Step 2: Act fast! The program will only last until your state's portion of the $300 million federal funding is gone.
- FACT: The 2008 Car Allowance Rebate System, known as Cash for Clunkers, generated 700,000 new car sales in less than 30 days.
- Step 3: Save even more money by looking for Energy Star appliances that offer manufacturer rebates. The federal program may also be combined with rebates offered by your utility company, and you'll still be entitled to a federal tax credit for 30 percent of the cost up to $1,500.
- Step 4: Go shopping. To get the rebate – anywhere from $25 to $250 – you must replace your old appliance with one that's Energy Star-qualified. Some states will also require certain appliances receive high ratings from the Consortium for Energy Efficiency.
- TIP: American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are also included in the program.
- Step 5: Consider the age of the appliances you're thinking about upgrading. If they're less than six years old, the savings are not likely to be worth the expense, since appliances made in the last several years are apt to be fairly energy-efficient already. The older your appliances, the bigger the savings are likely to be.
- TIP: Remember: you're only eligible for a rebate if you replace an appliance you already own.
- Step 6: Learn which appliances are covered. The list varies from state to state; go to energysavers.gov/rebates to review the rules where you live – and to find out when the program kicks in. Some states are launching their program in January 2010, while others are coordinating it with Earth Day in April.