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Cash for appliance clunkers

Uncle Sam may help foot the bill for your next appliance purchase.

By Stacy Johnson Dec 3, 2009 5:34PM

The "Cash for Clunkers" program earlier this year got tons of press. But that's not the only program Uncle Sam has cooking that encourages you to toss out one energy-guzzler and buy something new and more efficient.


A Cash- for-Clunkers program for appliances is now starting to unfold nationwide. Again, the idea is rebates of up to $200, perhaps more, to entice Americans to replace old, energy-hogging appliances with new Energy Star ones.


Unlike the cash-for-clunkers car program, however, this one isn’t nationally standardized: It’s up to individual states to decide which exact appliances will earn a rebate, how much that rebate will be, and even when to begin the program. So you’ll have to do a little digging to see if your state is participating, what they’re offering and when they’re going to start offering it.


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The program is being funded by $300 million of stimulus money which should now be in the process of being distributed to individual states.


Here are two places to start: first, visit’sspecial offers search engine . Even after the "clunkers" program ends, you should always start any appliance search here because in seconds you can scope out any available appliance incentives, including special deals from manufacturers and retailers. So check it not only to see if your state’s "clunkers" rebate program has kicked in yet, but also to learn of other available incentives.


To find out for sure one way or the other if your state’s program is up and running, contact your state’s energy office. Here’s a handy listing of every state’s contact info.


And if you decide that a couple of hundred bucks isn’t enough to get you off the sofa and out to your local appliance store, at least take care of the appliances you have so they last longer and operate better! Here’s a list of tips from our friends at Angie’s list:

  1. Clean the condenser coils on your refrigerator annually (that's the metal tubing on the back and/or underneath)  and check door seals to ensure they are airtight.
  2. Check your HVAC filters monthly and replace as needed.
  3. Replace washer fill hoses every five years.
  4. Avoid overloading the washing machine.
  5. Check the exhaust duct on your clothes dryer once a year and make sure it's clear. Clean the lint filter before each use.
  6. Don’t allow heavy grease buildup on your oven interior.
  7. Drain a quart of water from your water heater tank every few months to remove sediment that slows down heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater.
  8. Have regular service as recommended by the manufacturer.

Bottom line? If you’re in the appliance buying mood, the cash-for-appliance-clunkers program may provide even more incentive to go shopping. But if you’re not, at least maintain the ones you have so they’ll last longer and cost less to run. Then calculate your savings and earmark that dough for debt reduction or to increase your savings!


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