State officials are polishing plans to distribute Tennessee’s part of $300 million in federal stimulus money targeted to help homeowners replace old, energy-sucking appliances with newer, more efficient Energy Star rated appliances.
Referred to as Cash for Appliances after the wildly popular Cash for Clunkers automobile trade-in program, Tennessee expects to receive $5.9 million to use for consumer rebates and to cover administrative costs for the program.
All 50 states are participating in the federal program – part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – and each state developed its own plan to distribute funds.
Tennessee’s plan was approved in December by the U.S. Department of Energy and will kick off on April 22 in honor of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.
Eligible appliances will include air source heat pumps, central air conditioners and room air conditioners with the Energy Star designation. A rebate of $250 will be available for the air source heat pumps and central air conditioners, while room air conditioners will be eligible for a $40 rebate.
While Tennessee is limiting its plan to heating and cooling units, other states are taking different approaches. Most urge homeowners to recycle their old appliances, but North Carolina and Mississippi make it a requirement for retailers to recycle the old equipment.
Georgia launched its program last week; it includes rebates in the form of prepaid Visa cards for Energy Star rated clothes washers, dishwashers, refrigerators and freezers in addition to heating and cooling units. In Hawaii, only refrigerators qualify for the program.
Only qualifying Energy Star heating and cooling units purchased after the program launch will be eligible and rebates will not be retroactive.
Tennessee has one of the highest per capita rates of residential electricity consumption in the U.S., and leaders estimate energy savings for qualified products at 16 million kilowatt hours per year. A reduction in energy use of that size translates to a yearly savings of almost $1.4 million in energy costs for Tennesseans and reduces the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by 32 million pounds annually.
“This funding provided by the Recovery Act will help Tennessee families lower their utility bills and have a positive impact on the environment,” Gov. Phil Bredesen said in a December release.
More details on how consumers can take advantage of the rebates will be available in the coming months.