Cash for Appliances just got cooler.
Starting Friday, Marylanders can apply for $500 rebates on new central air conditioners under the popular federal program backed by stimulus dollars. State officials announced Monday that they plan to extend rebates to purchases of energy-efficient models in four new categories.
State residents replacing old appliances also will be able to apply for $500 rebates on air-source heat pumps, $100 for freezers and $25 for room air conditioners. Only purchases of Energy Star-rated models made after Friday will be eligible, according to the Maryland Energy Administration, which runs the state's program.
State officials said they are expanding the program to help residents coping with record high temperatures this summer — and the higher energy bills that come with trying to keep cool.
"We want to really keep things moving, especially in light of these skyrocketing summer temperatures," said MEA spokeswoman Christina Twomey.
Maryland's appliance rebate program began in April for electric heat pump water heaters and certain high-efficiency clothes washers and refrigerators. Customers of the state's five largest utilities apply for the rebates through their electric company; all other ratepayers would apply directly to the state energy administration.
The same caveats apply for all: The new appliances must be purchased from stores within Maryland or online. They also must replace existing appliances in Maryland homes, Twomey said.
"These appliances need to replace those old clunker appliances," she said.
Thus far, only about $500,000 has been paid out of the $5.4 million allocated to Maryland under the federal appliance program. That included rebates for about 4,000 clothes washer, 400 refrigerators and 200 electric heat pump water heaters.
"We consider this to be a really big success," Twomey said. "Unlike other states who had a run on their dollars, leaving customers feeling shorted, our program has been very consistently moving forward, serving customers who actually needed new appliances."
Consumer advocate Maryland PIRG praised the expansion and urged MEA to also include dishwashers because old models can add $40 in utility costs a year.
"Promoting energy-efficient appliances will save energy, cut utility costs and create jobs," said Fielding Huseth of Maryland PIRG. "We're very glad the state is providing more ways for consumers to take advantage of this worthy program."
Other states with similar rebate programs saw brisk participation early on. Florida's money nearly ran out hours after the program started in April. Two hours after Massachusetts launched its online reservation program, the state reached the maximum number of rebates and a second round of funding was added.
Maryland has until March 2012 to dispense all the money, Twomey said.
More information about eligible products is available in the appliance rebate section of the Maryland Energy Administration's website: energy.maryland.gov
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