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Idaho retailers seeing mild interest in state appliance rebate program

Idaho retailers seeing mild interest in state appliance rebate program

Dustin Hurst
April 23, 2010
Dustin Hurst
Author Image
April 23, 2010

Retailers across the state, from Boise to Idaho Falls to Coeur d’Alene, are seeing increased levels of interests in energy efficient appliances as the program offered by the Office of Energy Resources  (OER) enters its third week.  Salesmen tell IdahoReporter.com that the program is helping to fuel sales of dishwashers, dryers, and other appliances, but some wish the program would give larger rebates to consumers for purchases.

Paul Kjellander, director for OER, defends the rebate amount, saying that instead of a quick shot in the arm for retailers, his department wanted a "slow, steady burn of funds" to stimulate the local economy.

The program is similar to the “Cash for Clunkers” program last year, which allowed people to trade in older, less fuel efficient cars and receive up to $4,500 in tax rebates toward the purchase of a new car.  For the cash for appliances program, citizens are able to replace appliances – dishwashers, water heaters, dryers, and more – with newer appliances that are Energy Star certified and use less energy than older models.  Citizens can receive rebate money for up to five different appliance upgrades.  The state has $1.2 million for the program and once the money is gone, the state will end the program, unlike “Cash for Clunkers,” which received a second appropriation due to its popularity.  To date, Idaho consumers have used $323,000 of the total funds.

To receive a rebate, Idaho citizens must purchase an Energy Star appliance as quickly as possible and save the receipt of that purchase.  After buying the appliance, people can log on to the state’s website for the program and fill out the application form.  After printing out the form, people will need to mail in the form, along with a copy of the receipt, and a utility bill which bears an Idaho address for verification purposes, to OER for processing.

Evan, who works for CHF Home Furnishings in Boise, said that he and other salesmen at his store work to let customers know about the rebates once they walk in the store.  He said the money from the government has helped to increase overall appliance sales, but also expressed disappointment in state for not advertising the program

As for the dollar amounts offered by the state, Evan said that he feels that they are enough to entice potential customers to buy. "You can get $50 on a dishwasher that's $300 and that's quite a difference in price."  He said that in CHF's recent ads, the company has pushed the rebate, which can often be complemented by other rebate incentives offered by Idaho Power to give customers a greater amount of savings.

John, a salesman for Fred's Appliance in Coeur D'Alene, said that customers coming into his store are eager to know which appliances qualify for the rebate.  He said that for the most part, when customers step into Fred's, they already know about the program and those who don't are informed by salesmen.

"I think it's fairly effective and people are becoming more aware of energy efficient appliances and they're getting an incentive to get them in their homes," said John.

Some retailers appreciate the program and what it's doing for sales, but think the program could use some adjustments.  Cathy, of R.C. Willey in Meridian, said that her customers have shown some interest in the program, but that the rebate amounts need to be changed. "I think rebate amounts were set too low to get people to pull the trigger," Cathy said.

Ken, of Jim's Appliances in downtown Boise, said that he personally feels that the program was instituted too slowly to achieve its purposes.  "It was stimulus dollars intended to stimulate the economy.  They waited and told people 'we are going to pay you to buy appliances' for six months.' That's not stimulating - telling people not to buy."

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