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Dollars for Dishwashers? Appliance Rebates on the Way

Rebates for Refrigerators? Dollars for Dishwashers? Funds for Furnaces?

The government's so-called "Cash for Clunkers" program has been grabbing headlines, but it's not the only federal program putting money back into consumers' pockets. A new government program is poised to help appliance manufacturers the same way "Clunkers" gave a jump start to auto manufacturers.

Washing Machine
Washing Machine

As part of the Obama Administration's economic stimulus bill, nearly $300 million was set aside to fund a state-run rebate program for consumers purchases of Energy Star-qualified home appliances.

Like the "Clunkers" program, the plan takes aim at energy guzzlers. However, unlike in the popular auto program, consumers will not have to turn in their old appliances in order to buy a more efficient one and qualify for the rebate. However, the exact criteria remain unclear because states are still drafting their individual plans, with the hope of having the programs up and running by the end of this year.

It's expected that the rebates will range from $50 to as much as $200 per appliance. The Energy Department has given states the flexibility to determine which Energy Star appliances should be included in the program, but the Energy Department hopes states will focus on products that are used for heating and cooling such as air conditioners, water heaters and furnaces.

  • 'Cash for Clunkers' Program Expected to End on Monday

States had until Aug. 15 to express their interest in participating in the program, and all 50 states are on board, according to an Energy Department spokeswoman. Now, the states will receive federal money to develop their program and draft the details by Oct. 15.

It could be good news for companies such as Whirlpool, Electrolux and General Electric, the parent of CNBC and CNBC.com. Retailers like Sears, who rely on consumers to buy appliances, could benefit as well.

The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, an industry trade group, is hopeful the program will spur sales, which are down about 15 percent from last year, according to spokeswoman Jill Notini.

The organization is not only touting the program, but also the savings that can come from using more efficient appliances. Notini said that if a consumer replaces an 8-year-old washing machine with an Energy Star appliance, he or she can typically save 5,000 gallons of water and 600 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. That comes out to about $78 in annual savings, Notini said.

It's been a great year for consumers to cash in on government programs. However, many have come in the form of tax credits, but the appliance program will be a rebate-style program, which will have a quicker return for consumers.

Like the "Clunker" program, it won't last forever. Once the funds allocated for the program run out, the program will end.

The best part is consumers can pile on the savings.

If you were able to trade in a gas guzzler for a new car, you may also be able to deduct what's paid in state sales tax from your federal income tax. Buying a hybrid car? You may qualify not only for as much as $4,500 through the "Clunkers" program, but also for as much as $3,000 in additional federal tax credits.

Whether or not you qualify for "Clunkers" cash, you might also be able to snag an $8,000 federal tax credit for buying a home for the first time.

Need to update the house? No worries, there's a program for that too. Consumers installing energy-efficient windows can get as much as $1,500 in federal tax credits.

Now, you can ditch the old furnace and the dishwasher as well, if you act fast.

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