Monday, April 26, 2010

Appliance rebates wrap up, with a little change to spare

North Carolina's "cash for appliances" rebate program concluded yesterday with most of its money depleted - about $7 million of the roughly $8 million in federal stimulus funds set aside for the instant 15 percent discounts on Energy Star refrigerators, freezers, washing machines and dishwashers.

Thanks in part to a real-time computerized tally tracking rebate dollars spent, the program appeared to run smoothly, without any Cash For Clunkers-style confusion about how much money remained. And it helped retailers sell likely hundreds or thousands more major appliances than they otherwise would have in late April: Statewide, the rebates were used on purchases of 15,621 washing machines, 15,102 dishwashers, 2,234 freezers and 21,471 refrigerators, for a total of about 54,400 appliances.

It's unclear whether there's enough money left to launch a second phase of rebates in June, as had been the state's plan if funds remained: The N.C. Energy Office said in a press release that it's reviewing and accounting for the money spent this weekend before making a determination. If the second phase takes place, it would offer mail-in rebates on selected water heaters, central air conditioners, heat pumps and gas furnaces, at least according to the state's earlier plan. Those discounts would be redeemable with retailers, contractors and programs offered through utilities.