Appliance rebate program sparks interest

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010
— People debating whether to update old appliances with new, energy-efficient units likely could be pushed to buy with the start of a new appliance rebate program, one local retailer predicts.

“I think if they’re sitting on the fence, it might be enough to push them off on the right side,” said Ed Root, co-owner of the Brothers Main Appliance and TV and manager of the Janesville store.

Traffic and sales have increased at local retailers since the appliance rebate program started Friday, local store managers said.

The $5.4 million allocated to the state comes from the federal stimulus package, and Focus on Energy is administering the rebates in Wisconsin. The program is meant to encourage the replacement and proper recycling of old units with high-efficiency units, said Don Smith, project manager with Focus on Energy.

The program will last until February 2012 or until funds are gone. Officials guess the funding will last six months to a year, he said.

Cash rebates range from $25 on dishwashers, $50 on freezers, $75 on refrigerators, $100 on clothes washers and $150 on water heaters. More details are available at focusonenergy.com/recovery.

Not all Energy Star appliances qualify; Root said the rebates are mainly for the top tier of energy efficiency units.

Rebates are available only to residential customers replacing an existing appliance. Appliances for new construction are not eligible. Businesses, including landlords, are not eligible.

Residents replacing refrigerators, freezers or central air conditioners must provide proof that their old unit was taken out of service and properly recycled. Many retailers will recycle those units when a new one is bought.

While the initial cash rebate is great, the lifetime energy savings of a new appliance is what really adds up, said both Root and Dave Grosenick, owner of Rock County Appliance and TV Sales in Janesville.

“Especially in laundry, that’s probably going to have one of the most rapid paybacks,” Grosenick said. “We try to talk to them (consumers) about the total ownership.”

For an average family, an energy efficient washer will pay for itself in energy and water savings over its life, Root said. He said new refrigerators also are top energy savers.

“Sometimes there’s a lot of focus on the initial cash-back reward,” Smith said. “But customers who are replacing, for example, a refrigerator that’s avocado green in color from the 1970s are going to see far more savings every year from their lower electric bill than they will from the actual reward that they’re going to receive from the Focus on Energy.”

Root said his store has seen quite a bit of interest in the program.

“It’s one that people were really waiting and excited for,” he said. “We actually had a lot of customers who knew about it.”

Last updated: 12:44 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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