'Cash for appliances' program aims to boost sales

Did you recently trade in that old clunker for a new car?

OK, so how are you fixed for a new refrigerator? Or maybe a new dishwasher or heat pump?

Brace yourself. A federal "cash for appliances" program is likely on its way to a store near you before the end of the year.

Comparatively unnoticed in the economic stimulus package approved by Congress earlier this year was a $300 million program offering rebates to buyers of more energy-efficient appliances and other products with the the Energy Star label.

The Energy Star conservation program was created in 1992 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and evolved into an international standard for energy-efficient consumer products. Products with the Energy Star seal — they can range from a building to central air conditioners to computers — typically are 10 percent to 30 percent more energy efficient than comparable products.

Just like the recently completed Cash for Clunkers program, the more modest cash for appliances program is designed to boost the U.S. economy through consumer spending and take less energy-efficient products out of circulation.

Yet, it differs from Cash for Clunkers on key points. The individual states will run their own appliance rebate programs, and consumers will not have to haul their bulky appliances to a store in exchange for new ones.

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