North Carolina offers 4-day window for appliance rebate
by Kristen Rojowski
Angie's List member Anna-Catherine Sendgikoski of Matthews decided to shop smart when it was time to replace her clothes washer, dishwasher and refrigerator.
She spent time researching the appliances to determine which features were most important to her and how much energy she could save by replacing them.
"You have to consider the cost to run appliances when purchasing them," Sendgikoski says, adding that buying the least expensive item may not pay off in the long run.
Sendgikoski started by replacing her clothes washer with a more energy efficient Energy Star model. She monitored the water and electric bills, compared them to previous months and noticed about $15 in savings the first month. The new dishwasher knocked $5 off her water bill, then her new refrigerator reduced the electric bill by another 3 percent.
"It was very rewarding to see a drop in my utility bills," Sendgikoski says. "Especially with the water bill, because our county was under a drought warning and there were water usage restrictions. I knew I was doing my part."
State officials hope other North Carolina residents follow Sendgikoski's lead to replace energy-guzzling appliances with more efficient Energy Star models, says Seth Effron, communications director for the North Carolina Energy Office.
Sales tax on purchases eligible for the Energy Star rebate will be calculated before the discount is applied.
For example, if you purchase a $1,000 refrigerator, you will pay sales tax on the full $1,000 rather than the after rebate price of $850.
Using its $8.8 million share of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the state will offer instant 15 percent rebates on Energy Star-qualified clothes washers, refrigerators, freezers and dishwashers purchased between April 22 and 25.
"This program will encourage sales, but ultimately we want more efficient appliances in people's homes," Effron says. An Energy Star-rated refrigerator, he explained, uses half the electricity of one manufactured in 1995 or before.
Unfortunately, Sendgikoski's new appliances won't qualify because the rebates are only available during that four-day window, Effron says. Consumers will receive the rebate at point of purchase.
The rebate program's main emphasis is to get old, energy-hogging appliances off the grid, but it will also help retailers clear out inventory and generate more sales tax dollars for North Carolina.
The state relied on the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association to help keep administrative costs down. "We've worked extensively with retailers and the Department of Energy to make sure the process is seamless for consumers," says Andy Ellen, general counsel for the association.
Besides the immediate 15 percent savings, Ellen says shoppers can expect competitive prices from retailers as well as other manufacturer rebates.
"There will be great deals out there, but make sure you deal with reputable retailers," Ellen says. "Shop the Main Street retail person you've always dealt with - this program is designed to help in many different ways. It helps the consumer, local businesses and their communities, and most importantly it helps the environment."
Consumers may also receive a 30 percent federal tax credit for the same Energy Star product. The tax credit is subject to limitations that vary by product and type of home. For a full list of qualified products, go to energystar.gov/taxcredits.