This spring, the United States Department of Energy will be distributing nearly $300 million in rebates to consumers as part of its energy-efficient appliance rebate program, often referred to as the appliance equivalent of last year’s “Cash for Clunkers” car rebate program. Each state was allotted a portion of the total funds, with $5.4 million being earmarked for Maryland consumers. The program, which begins April 22nd in Maryland, will allow homeowners to receive mail-in rebates of up to $300 when they replace older, less energy-efficient appliances with new Energy Star-compliant ones.
As with the Cash for Clunkers program, which ran out of money well ahead of its expected end date, these funds won’t last long. For instance, when Florida launched its program earlier this month, it allocated all of its $17.6 million in one day. Texas’s $23 million-plus was gone within a matter of hours.
Each state was in charge of choosing the specific types of appliances to which the rebates would apply. In Maryland, purchasers of select models of energy-efficient clothes washers, refrigerators, and electric heat pump water heaters will be eligible for the rebates, with the highest rebate amounts applying to water heaters. This federal money is in addition to already existing state rebates being offered by local utility companies. Here in Frederick, for example, Allegheny Power currently offers an additional $50 to $75 rebate on the purchase of energy-efficient washers and refrigerators.
As if these rebates weren’t enough reason for homeowners to replace their outdated energy hogs, the federal government is still giving huge income tax credits when consumers purchase certain energy-efficient systems for their homes. While the tax credits don’t generally cover appliances, there is a credit of up to $1,500 (capped at 30% of the cost) for the purchase and installation of a new electric heat pump water heater, which is one of the items covered under the new rebate program. The ability to combine the tax credit and the rebate on the replacement of an old heat pump could turn an ordinarily expensive undertaking into a relatively cheap upgrade.
Finally, while saving consumers money up-front and helping to stimulate the economy are primary goals of these federal and state programs, the long-term design is to curb high home energy usage. This, in turn, will lead to lower energy bills for homeowners for years to come.
To learn more about these programs and to find out which appliances qualify, visit www.energy/state.md.us/appliancerebateprogram.asp, www.energystar.gov, and www.alleghenypower.com. As always, for further information on this topic, or for help with other real estate matters, please feel free to contact any of our attorneys.