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What Is Cash for Refrigerators?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 04 September 2016
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A program launched in the United States by the federal government, Cash for Refrigerators gives a rebate to people who replace refrigerators and other appliances with newer, more energy-efficient models. Cash for Refrigerators is often compared to the same country’s Cash for Clunkers program, which involved trading in old cars. Unlike the car program, citizens do not have to trade in an appliance to get a rebate for a new one. The U.S. set aside $300 million U.S dollars (USD) to give out in rebates to people who properly fill out and submit a rebate form.

Cash for Refrigerators was introduced in 2009 to encourage U.S. citizens to conserve energy and revitalize the appliance industry. Switching out old appliances for new ones that meet certain federal standards can save Americans thousands of dollars each year. The program is not limited to refrigerators; washing machines, air conditioners, and many other necessary and everyday appliances are covered under the program. Some regions of the country already rewarded people for upgrading to energy-efficient models, and the new program can give those people even more savings.

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This program is often compared to the country’s Cash for Clunkers program, but it is different in many ways. Cash for Clunkers required participants to trade in a car, while Cash for Refrigerators usually only requires participants to fill out a mail-in rebate form. Occasionally, a state may require participants to fill out a form in person. Unlike Cash for Clunkers, this program was slowly introduced throughout the U.S., with different states having different start dates and payouts. Some states allowed people to reserve a rebate on the Internet, anticipating that the $300 million USD would run out fast.

While the U.S. set aside $3 billion USD for the Cash for Clunkers program, only 10 percent of that amount was set aside for the Cash for Refrigerators program. Some appliance retailers are not sure any amount will help, however. For example, experts point out that, because there is no trade-in, people can get good deals on appliances whenever they want. The Cash for Clunkers program required a trade-in, and that trade-in was worth a set amount, which was a tangible thing to buyers. Other experts have expressed concern that the program is mostly ineffective because it likely will not encourage people who do not need new appliances to go out and buy them anyway.

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