While it isn’t exactly a Cash For Clunkers deal, there’s a government program soon to launch – an offshoot of the stimulus package – that’s in the same spirit. Coming down the government money pike is a “Cash for Appliances” incentive program that will allocate a grand total of $300 million unequally divvied among the states to be used as $50-to-$200 cash rebates to consumers who buy certain energy-efficient appliances.
Opinions of appliance dealers canvassed at this week’s Las Vegas-held Brand Source National Convention and Buying Fair about the program varied widely, with some saying it could boost foot traffic, while others expressed uncertainty about the logistical requirements and wariness over the confusion it could create among potential customers.
“It’s good and it’s bad,” said Joe Heslin, of Carmona’s Appliances in Redding, Calif. “They’re giving $36 million to California but that has to be divided between solar products, air conditioners and other appliances. That amount will only last a short time.” Heslin added that he had little hope that the government could administer the program in timely fashion, since it had proven its inability to turn around rebate money owed dealers rapidly enough during Cash for Clunkers. “There are lots of unanswered questions,” added his colleague Terry Alvord. “People have already heard about it and are asking, but it’s only supposed to start anywhere from October to November, so they’re waiting to buy. Plus, it might even cover things like pool equipment and water pumps. PG&E’s got a $1 billion rebate program to encourage installation of energy-efficient products, but this $36 million is just a drop in the bucket.”