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'Cash for Appliances' coming to a state near you

By Ben Rooney, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A government program that gives consumers rebates on purchases of energy-efficient household appliances is ramping up in states across the country.

The $300 million 'Cash for Appliances' program, first announced last year, is funded by the government's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and is similar to other federal programs like Cash for Caulkers and Cash for Clunkers.

Under the program, consumers are eligible to receive rebates on new, energy-efficient appliances such as refrigerators or washing machines. The rebates vary by state, type of appliance, and level of efficiency.

Rebates are only available on appliances with the Energy Star logo, which meet the energy efficiency guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy.

The goal of Cash for Appliances is to help American's conserve energy, while also boosting retail sales and ultimately helping spur the economic recovery.

In New York, where the program went into effect Friday, rebates range from $75 to $105 on refrigerators, freezers and clothes washers. The rebates can be as high as $555 for bundled purchases of all three appliances.

"This program will provide a tremendous incentive for consumers all across New York to reduce their energy consumption while providing an important stimulus to our economy," New York Gov. David Paterson said in a statement.

Georgia, which also launched its program Friday, is offering consumers rebates of up to $199 on items such as air-source heat pumps, solar-powered water heaters and gas boilers.

California received the most funding, with $35.3 million. The state already has incentives in place of energy-efficient appliances, but will begin offering additional rebates under the federal program in April.

Texas received the second-largest amount of funding. The state plans to start its $23.3 million program in April.

Oklahoma, which had the smallest budget at $1.9 million, will also start its program in April.

While the program is still rolling out in most states, Kansas blew through its $2.7 million budget for the appliance program relatively quickly. The state, which already had a list of applicants under an existing program, closed its program in late January after being open for just over one month.

Three other states have also already launched appliance rebate programs: Connecticut, Oregon and Illinois.

The program should help boost spending on efficient products in the short term, said Matt Golden, head of nonprofit trade group Efficiency First. However, to meet the nation's energy needs in the future, he said the government will have to focus on services, rather than products.

"It's moving the market towards more efficient appliances, which is good," he said. "But it lacks the scale to be a long term solution."

Meanwhile, retailers say it's difficult to predict how the program will impact sales because the conditions vary widely from state to state.

"It's tough to say, from a sales perspective, because each state has such a different program," said Home Depot spokeswoman Jean Neimi. "But we're excited the program is in place. Any opportunity to educate our customers on the benefits of energy efficiency is welcome."

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that West Virginia received the second-largest amount of funding. To top of page

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