Consumer Nation

Buying An Appliance? Get The Rebates You Deserve

Last summer, while most people were still talking about the popular "Cash for Clunkers" auto program, the Department of Energy announced a $300 million appliance rebate program aimed at encouraging consumers to junk their energy-guzzling appliances for more efficient ones.

Washing Machine

However, there has been a lot of confusion with the appliance program as the details were left up to the individual states to create and adminster, and each program is unique. This means one state may offer rebates for all major appliances, while other states may only focus on one area such as dishwashers. Not only does this Web site help consumers navigate the details and timing of the more than 50 individual appliance rebate programs, it provides information about other rebates available from manufacturers, state governments, utility companies and other sources.

Using the Web site, consumers may discover that they can bundle several rebates together to sharply reduce the amount of their purchase, including those that have nothing to do with the Energy Department's program.

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Currently only two states, Oregon and Delaware, have fully activated the government programs, said Lee Guthman, CEO of iClunkit, the company that developed A third, Kansas, is expected to begin this month, but most states will begin some time between January and April, he said.

Guthman said he hopes his company's Web site will restore "some sanity" to the process.

Knowing when the programs begin is essential because the funding for each program is limited, and when it runs out, the offer is over. To help consumers make sure they make their purchases in time, the Web site allows users to sign up for email alerts so they will get notified when their state's program begins.

The site plans to add other features soon. For example, a calculator to let users know how much money is left in each state's program is on the way, as is another that will calculate the potential savings in monthly utility bills for upgrading to a more efficient appliance. Guthman said his site's energy efficiency calculator will customize the savings to take into account the cost of energy in the user's city, providing a more precise estimate than other similar tools.

Although the site was inspired by the government's program, which was originally conceived as part of the $787 billion economic stimulus package, Guthman expects it will outlast it. That's because there are so many rebate programs being offered all the time by states, utilities and manufacturers.

For example, consumers may be surprised to learn that some utilities will pay them for old appliances, and even pick them up. These means consumers not only get a rebate, they can save the disposal fee that most retailers charge to cart away the appliance.

So go ahead and check it out, maybe it's time to get some dollars for your dishwasher.

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