By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
At press time, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) had approved plans and awarded funding to 50 states and territories for rebates on Energy Star-qualified appliances under its State Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program (SEEARP).
The majap equivalent of “cash for clunkers” has been allocated $300 million in stimulus funds, which will provide consumers with rebates of between $50 and $200 on energy-efficient refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes washers, air conditioners and water heaters.
The stimulus effort is expected to boost white-goods sales by as much as 20 percent, industry executives have said.
Unlike the auto industry program, trade-ins are not federally mandated under the “Cash for Appliances” effort, although the DOE is encouraging states to incorporate recycling into their programs in an effort to rid the energy grid of old “clunker” appliances.
But the biggest — and most problematic — difference is SEEARP's state-level implementation, which has resulted in a nationwide patchwork of rules, stipulations and start dates, and an administrative challenge for manufacturers and national and multiregional chains.
For example, several states are limiting their programs to low-income or rural applicants, while others are restricting their rebates to heating and cooling appliances. And many states, such as California and Ohio, require recycling of “clunker” appliances, and others like Florida and Illinois will provide an additional rebate for consumers who dispose of their old appliances in a responsible manner.
To help consumers navigate the maze of varying requirements, dealers are bringing sales associates up to speed on their respective state's plans, and both retailers and vendors have created dedicated Web sites, such as Sears.com/energystar, that provide program details, tracking tools and links to DOE's informational site, www.energysavers.gov/rebates.
“We're energized by the 'Cash for Appliances' rebate program and its ability to introduce many more of our shoppers to Energy Star,” said Doug Moore, president of home appliances for Sears. “With so much discussion around the program and various rebates available, the Sears Blue Appliance Crew is there to make it easier for customers to go green affordably, so that our shoppers can find, file and often receive their rebates before they leave the store.”
Specifically, Sears' sales associates and Web site will:
send email notifications to registered customers when state programs go “live”;
offer details on the individual state rebate programs, including when and how much will be available, and any guidelines that may apply; and
assist consumers with the responsible removal and disposal of their old appliances, as needed.
Similarly, Bosch, the premium majap manufacturer, has created a Bosch Rebate Resource Center site at www.boschappliancerebates.com.
“The state rebate programs will give an incredible boost to American consumers and the appliance industry by putting appliance rebates into the national conversation,” said John Farley, the company's senior brand and environmental marketing manager.
“The Bosch Rebate Resource Center was created to help consumers year-round, including people who need to replace their appliances now and can't wait until the new state rebates take effect; consumers who want the best possible deal during their state's program; and consumers who enter the market long after their state's program is over,” he said.
The Energy Department is expected to approve SEEARP plans submitted by all 56 U.S. states and territories, with the first major marketing campaign likely to launch by Presidents Day weekend.
Consumers will be able to receive existent Energy Star rebates in addition to the Cash for Appliance subsidies.
States receiving the most majap stimulus funding include California ($35.3 million), New York ($18.7 million) and Florida ($17.6 million).
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