Thursday, October 29, 2009

Who Will Benefit from Energy Rebates?

Have you delayed replacing your old energy-hoarding kitchen appliances in hopes of new cash rebates from the federal stimulus program? The Oregon Department of Energy has instead chosen to channel its $3.6 million in allocated funds into generous rebates for low-income homeowners who replace their antiquated and inefficient heating systems. This news was met with a measure of surprise from those who had expected the State Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program would be used to energize consumer spending in the home-remodeling section.

States were allowed to decide how best to carry out the program. Most states, including CA, NY and FL, have elected to direct their share of revenues from what has been called the "cash for clunkers" program for appliances into cash rebates for homeowners who replace outdated washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators and water-heaters with newer energy-efficient models. An additional cash incentive will typically be offered for recycling the old appliances appropriately.

Oregon Department of Energy cites that 40% of the state’s annual energy usage comes from heating homes. Also the state already has in place an established incentive program which offers tax-credits ranging from $60 to $180 for qualifying energy-efficient appliances.

This GE Monogram EnergyStar-rated dishwasher qualifies for an $80 state tax-credit plus a $25 rebate for Central Electric customers.

Jim Chapel, a salesman at Johnson Brothers Appliances in Bend, OR says that "everyday people come in asking about the rebates." Chapel was never convinced that the new cash rebates, had they indeed been offered for kitchen appliances, would have boosted sales significantly. He believes customers replace their dishwasher, for example, because they need a new dishwasher. Part of his job as he sees it is to make customers aware of all incentive programs that apply to a purchase, and he emphasizes that in addition to the state's ongoing tax-credits all of the power companies are offering rebates. These rebates vary from one power company to the next and from one appliance to the next and Chapel is "more than happy" to help customers get the right information.

Oregons's proposal will now require federal approval, and funds could be allocated by the end of the year.

Related Links:
US Dept. of Energy
Oregon Dept. of Energy-Conservation
Pacific Power
Central Electric Cooperative

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