Cash for Appliances targets HVAC products, water heaters

The DOE is recommending that states and territories focus their rebate program efforts on heating and cooling equipment, appliances and water heaters since these products offer the greatest energy savings potential.

WASHINGTON — States and territories interested in participating in the Cash for Appliances program, a state-run rebate program, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, for consumer purchases of new Energy Star qualified home appliances, will need to submit a full application, specifying how they will implement the program, by Oct. 15, 2009. The U.S. Department of Energy anticipates that a vast majority of funding will be awarded by Nov. 30, 2009.

The DOE is recommending that states and territories focus their program efforts on heating and cooling equipment, appliances and water heaters since these products offer the greatest energy savings potential. Energy Star qualified appliance categories eligible for rebates include central air conditioners, heat pumps (air source and geothermal), boilers, furnaces (oil and gas), room air conditioners, water heaters and other appliances.

The new Cash for Appliances program underscores the Obama Administration's commitment to make American homes more energy efficient while helping the nation's economic recovery.

“Appliances consume a huge amount of our electricity, so there's enormous potential to both save energy and save families money every month,” said U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “These rebates will help families make the transition to more efficient appliances, making purchases that will directly stimulate the economy and create jobs.”

States and territories interested in the program already filed an initial application to participate in the program this August and received 10% of the funds. They will receive the remaining funds once their program plans are approved. Nearly $300 million will be awarded to states and territories, through their energy offices, using a formula set forth in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Since this is a state-run rebate program, each state needs to specify which Energy Star appliances will be include in their specific program. The rebate level for each product type, how the rebates will be processed and how old products will be recycled must also be specified. States and territories can also use these funds to leverage utility companies and energy efficiency program sponsors in their area.

According to the Coalition for Energy Star Water Heaters, managed by the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) of Boston, voluntary energy efficiency programs like the Cash for Appliances program creates markets for higher efficiency by setting advanced tiers.

“In the case of the Recovery Act provision relating to Energy Star incentives, we understand that states are identifying how each will make use of allocated funds,” said Kara Rodgers, the CEE's senior program manager. “Once these are known, potential complementary actions for efficiency programs and the Coalition can be considered.”

Some Energy Star product manufacturers are taking steps to prepare their staffs for the Cash for Appliances program. Additionally, the DOE has recently hosted Webinars about the program.

“We have participated in two Webinars that were hosted by the Department of Energy that outlined the specifics of the program and the timeline,” said Chuck Rohde, wholesale market manager at Rheem Water Heating. “We are using this information to educate our sales force and supply chain partners about the program and where they can go to get specific information about how their state is participating in the program.”

Besides making homes more energy efficient and helping the nation recover from the recession, the program will also help educate consumers about Energy Star products.

“We are hopeful that this program will not only increase sales, but help educate consumers in the fact that they have options when selecting their water heater,” said David Chisolm, A. O. Smith brand manager. “Energy efficient models are great options for many homeowners, so we are planning on leveraging the awareness that this program will generate. This program, which pushes Energy Star models, in addition to the federal tax credit, which promotes the highest energy efficiency models, will only help the cause of consumer awareness.”

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