Illinois appliance rebate helps your budget and the planet

Illinois appliance rebate helps your budget and the planet

by Paul F.P. Pogue

April is a green month in more ways than one. Buying energy-efficient appliances can save cash off the top and bring in another rebate when you recycle the old one. Think "Cash For Clunkers," but extended to your home's large appliances.

"The average home spends about $2,200 a year on energy bills, so we're looking at every available avenue to bring down those bills and keep appliances out of landfills," says Marcelyn Love, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Illinois' $12 million allotment will be divided into two phases. Phase one began Jan. 31 and applies a rebate to qualifying water heaters, heating and air conditioning systems. This phase ends when funds run out.

Phase two covers refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, dishwashers and air conditioners, and provides a 15 percent flat rebate, taken right off the purchase price. This program is much more limited — it begins April 16 and ends April 25.

Mike Abt, president of highly rated Abt Electronics, an appliance and electronics store in Glenview, Ill., says the water heater rebate was immediately popular, and anticipates similar reaction with the appliance rebate.

"A lot of people have been waiting for the rebate," Abt says. "Our sales went up immensely. It's gone absolutely crazy."

Unlike the Cash for Clunkers program, you don't need to get rid of a rusty dishwasher to get the 15 percent off rebate — it applies to all qualifying purchases. But if you do buy an appliance during the April period, you can make some extra cash by recycling the old one. That'll net you an additional $50 to $100 via mail-in rebate — and the state will even handle getting rid of the old one.

"You won't have to haul the old appliance to a specific location yourself," Love says. "We want to make it as easy as possible for people to be involved."

The state rebates are in addition to federal tax credits already available for some water heaters and HVAC systems. Go to to see which systems are eligible.

Angie's List member Tom Manning replaced a leaking water heater last winter, prior to the rebate program, and says existing federal tax incentives made a big difference.

"They were instrumental in my decision to buy a more expensive water heater," he says. "I figured over time, not only would it be good for the environment, but it would save some dollars."

Ricardo Matias, creative marketing director for highly rated Four Seasons Heating & Air Conditioning in Chicago, says the savings particularly add up when you factor in energy costs.

"You really need to do your research and look at the effect on your energy bills when you get a high efficiency product," Matias says. "Ask yourself, if I pay a little bit extra now, what benefit does that get in the long term? Between the federal credits, Energy Star rebates and long-term energy costs, you're looking at a significant savings over time."

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Florida receives $17.5 million for appliance rebate program

From April 16-25, state residents can receive a 20 percent discount on new qualified Energy Star appliances. Funds for the mail-in rebate program are limited and are available first-come, first-serve.

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