Appliance Rebate Programs Deliver Results

June 15, 2010

The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) has credited the State Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Programs (SEEARP), funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, with delivering the promised benefits of stimulating economic activity. The program has been successful in encouraging consumers to purchase Energy Star appliances, however AHAM feels its modest funding and complicated rollout limited its effectiveness in saving consumers energy and money.

To back up their assessments, AHAM members are pointing to a significant increase in demand for the Energy Star appliances included in the rebate program. AHAM’s April factory shipment report shows a nearly 20 percent increase in shipments of major home appliances compared to April 2009.  Year to date, shipments of core appliances are up 9.1 percent following four consecutive years of declines.  

Major retailers have confirmed that the rebate program has helped bring consumers back into stores.  While the $300 million funding for the rebate program was less than other stimulus programs, the return of consumers to stores also helped stimulate the purchase of goods other than appliances.

“The state rebate programs, also known as ‘Cash for Appliances,’ have had a measurable, positive impact on the appliance industry.  People who were sitting on the fence deciding whether to repair or replace their appliance were offered a compelling incentive to purchase a new energy efficient product.  Not only did the rebate serve as an initial discount on the product, but the new product will offer consumers years of energy and utility savings,” said Joseph M. McGuire, AHAM president.  

AHAM’s assessment of the SEEARP program is that it has been a success, but with a few tweaks it could have had a more profound effect.  “The program contributed to increased demand for energy efficient appliances, which in turn had a positive impact on jobs related to appliance manufacturing and sales,” said McGuire.  “However, the limited funding and complicated rollout of the programs limited its effectiveness.  We encourage the Congress to renew the program, but with additional funding and process improvements to expand its ability to save energy and jobs.”  

AHAM recommends a single, national rebate program instead of 50 separate state programs, each requiring individual DOE approval and related administrative costs. According to McGuire, “The large number of individual programs made it next to impossible for manufacturers to follow all of them and to relay information to consumers and retailers.  A single program, supported by focused messaging, Web sites and information would improve consumer satisfaction and improve the success of the program.”
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