JACKI LYDEN, host:
If you've been waiting to trade up from your old washer and dryer, you might want to get in the game. The Department of Energy is putting the finishing touches on a stimulus program to encourage shoppers to buy more energy-efficient home appliances. It's kind of a Cash for Clunkers refrigerators-type deal, except you don't actually haul the refrigerator to a lot someplace. You just buy a new and you get a great rebate.
To help us understand how the program will work or hopes to work, we've invited Jill Notini into our studio. She's with the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. Welcome.
Ms. JILL NOTINI (Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers): Thanks, Jacki. It's great to be here with you.
LYDEN: So give me the pitch. If I'm in a state where the rebate is going on, how does this work?
Ms. NOTINI: Basically what this will do will offer the consumer a direct rebate anywhere from $50 to $200 for the purchase of an Energy Star home appliance. So, like you said, you don't need to bring in your old appliance, although some states may actually offer an additional incentive for the retirement of an older working appliance.
LYDEN: Is this program brand new?
Ms. NOTINI: You know, what's interesting about this program is that it was originally signed into law as an energy conservation measure in 2005. But it wasn't until the stimulus package of this year that it was actually signed into law by President Obama.
LYDEN: So the money to fund it is coming from the stimulus.
Ms. NOTINI: Exactly.
LYDEN: The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers is partnering with the Department of Energy. But are you also hoping, the Manufacturers Association, to get people back into stores?
Ms. NOTINI: You know, absolutely. The home appliance industry very closely tracks with the home building industry. And obviously that industry, the home building industry, has suffered enormously in the past three years. And as a result, our industry is down about 12 percent for 2009 compared with our numbers from last year.
LYDEN: So, unlike Cash for Clunkers about the cars, though, this program doesn't do so much to stimulate domestic manufacturing as it is trying to push shoppers.
Ms. NOTINI: Well, that is correct. Although there certainly is a huge impact on the home appliance industry generally. We have nearly 100,000 employees still in the industry in the United States. So while we hope that this will spur consumer sales, it's certainly great for the manufacturers to spur shipments of appliances. It's great for states in order to reap additional sales tax revenue. And there is substantial savings to be gained for the consumer by the purchase of a new energy-efficient appliance.
For instance, if you replace a 10-year-old clothes washer of average efficiency with a new Energy Star model, you'll save more than $135 a year in electricity costs and an additional 5,000 gallons of water per year. So, really, it's good for everyone.
LYDEN: Are you hoping that a lot of people will have a big, red bow around a new washer and dryer?
(Soundbite of laughter)
Ms. NOTINI: That's certainly - a big, red bow around an appliance would certainly be our goal. Now, the timing of these programs is really what's a little bit tricky. Our goal and our desire is that consumers would be able to go into stores immediately in December as soon the funding is allocated to the States. However, we do know that some states will wait until next April to begin their programs.
But we also want people to know that appliance incentives and rebates are available throughout the year. If you log onto EnergyStar.gov and click on special offers, type in your zip code, you'll probably find that there are many rebates and incentives available right now for the purchase of an Energy Star appliance.
LYDEN: Well, Jill Notini, thanks so much for dropping by and telling us about it.
Ms. NOTINI: Well, thanks for having me.
LYDEN: Jill Notini is with the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.
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