10/20/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Funds for Fridges

The sequel to “Cash for Clunkers” might be called “Funds for
Fridges.” The continuation to America’s ever-popular “Cash for Clunkers”
program (which yielded 690,114 car turn-ins and new unit sales) will soon jump
start a new “Cash for Appliances” program that's coming to a utility near you
this fall.  The main difference, no
trade-in is required, these are outright government sponsored rebates for
refrigerators, furnaces, washers, dryers, dishwashers, air conditioners, etc.

Even though “Cash for Clunkers” is over for cars, more than
60 utilities across the U.S. will be offering money for recycled appliances
such as refrigerators, washers, dryers, and more. The federal government will
be offering rebates from $50 to $200 in support of consumers purchasing more
energy-efficient appliances. The goal is simple: Take energy-sucking appliances
out of homes and off energy grids, in favor of newer, more energy-efficient
ones that will save consumers money, and conserve energy.  As a byproduct of all the savings, home
appliance manufacturers are counting their lucky stars.   The government will help defray the costs of
upgrading to Energy Star appliances in hopes families will actually purchase
even in the midst of an economic recession.  
As you can imagine the home appliance supply chain has been devastated
by  the housing crisis.   So the “Cash for Appliances” program
accommodates the Obama administration’s triple bottom line, which stands to
benefit: the environment, the economy and the consumer.

Supported as part of President Obama's $787 billion stimulus
plan, the Department of Energy will provide states with $300 million which will
include these rebates in an effort to boost the economy, and also persuade and
help citizens make a transition into a better green, energy-conserving

So there’s got to be a catch, right? Well, not really, this
could be a winner across the board.   The
only unknown is how will the public react? Will this be as successful as “Cash
for Clunkers” or is that even a fair benchmark? Let’s face it -- driving away
in your brand new ride is a lot sexier than installing a new dishwasher.   A lot of these consumer oriented stimulus
programs have “The Price is Right” feel to it – instead of Bob Barker
announcing your bounty, you’ve got Steve Chu, the U.S. Secretary of Energy,
padding your household expenses.  
However, this certainly is no game show. 
This is where the environment and the economy are on a collision course
and our children’s future is up for grabs. 
The stakes are high.

Despite our good green intentions, money still talks.   If green guilt doesn’t prompt mass action to
protect Mother Earth perhaps greenbacks will – at least that’s what the feds
are bargaining for.   State applications
for the “Cash for Appliances” funding are due by October 15th, 2009; consumers
will probably see the rebates trickle down to their wallets in late
November.   Consumers should check their
state’s energy department to see when the rebates are active and what makes and
models are included.   The Energy
Department's Recovery Act Web site is also a hub of information on stimulus
funding and projects by state.

I encourage everybody to participate in this program.  It seems to be a part of the stimulus program
that is less centric on socioeconomic status.  
Best of all, the results are long-lasting as most appliances have a 10+
year useful life.   That amount of time
constitutes significant carbon emissions reductions as well as cumulative
dollars saved.