Upgrade to Energy Star in this Year's Cash for Clunkers

Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/Vitorio Benedetti

If you’re looking to invest in a new Energy Star appliance, now is the time. The majority of $300 million worth of funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for major appliance upgrades with Energy Star certification will become available in early 2010, just in time to start the New Year environmentally friendly.

According to an Associated Press article, this new stimulus for greener electrics was modeled after the successful Cash for Clunkers but only with one-tenth of the funding, so resources are likely to go fast.

In July 2009, US Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the availability of funds for state-run rebate programs covering central air conditioning units, clothes washers, dishwashers, refrigerators, boilers, water heaters and more, but each state has the ability to select which Energy Star appliances eligible.

Rebates will become available on a state-by-state basis rolling out now through April with each state allotted its own rebate budget. California came out on top with $35.2 million and Wyoming receiving the least at just over five hundred thousand.

According to Christina Kielich from the Department of Energy, there are already over 120 million Energy Star appliances installed in US homes today, but, despite rebates, is the cost of buying a brand new appliance worth it? The Associated Press has your answer:

Joe McGuire, president of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, said buying Energy Star appliances can mean hearty power savings. But it's important to make sure you save enough in water and energy bills over time to justify paying for a new unit.

"A good example is a 10-year-old clothes washer," he said. "With Energy Star, you could reduce utility costs by $145 a year and save 5,000 gallons of water a year."

At that rate, a typical $500 to $700 dishwasher would pay for itself in four years. In larger households that use more power and water for laundry, the payoff can come much sooner.

According to the US Department of Energy’s FAQ page, replacing a clothes washer made before 2000 with an Energy Star appliance could save up to $135 per year and replacing a refrigerator made before 1993 could save up to $65 per year.

Rebate savings could range from $50 to $250 depending on the product, the purchase price and other market factors and will be available as long as states have funds or until February 2012.

While replacing older, less efficient models with greener, energy-saving appliances sounds great, what’s not included in this year’s version of Cash for Clunkers is a recycling program for your old machines. According to Energystar.gov, the average refrigerator 10 years old or older can provide more than 120 pounds of steel!

The Energy Star website has four ways you can recycle your old machines:

1. Check with your retailer.

When purchasing a new appliance, many retailers will pick up and recycle your old machine, but make sure it will indeed be recycled and not resold as a second-hand unit.

2. Check with local electric, water or conservation programs

A growing number of organizations now host large appliance recycling programs.

3. Ask your municipal waste management division

Heavy trash pick-up and recycling programs for appliances may be available through your local programs.

4. Find a scrap metal recycler

Local scrap metal recyclers can provide recycling services for some large appliances.

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