smart spending

3 tips to snag the appliance rebate

It's a good idea to bear in mind these three tips when seeking the rebate:

Get the details. Each state may have its own start dates and sets of qualifying appliances while some states have additional restrictions. For example, Alaska's rebate Web site says it is limiting it to the disabled while Oregon is limiting it to low-income residents only, Grim says.

Some states, such as Oklahoma, require you to provide proof that you recycled the old appliance or removed it from your home. "The appliance will need to be removed from the premises," says Kylah McNabb, program manager for the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. "We encourage recycling, but we do not specifically require it. It shouldn't be a problem for most consumers. Few retailers do not offer haul-away when you purchase a new appliance."

Still other states, like Illinois, stipulate that rebate-eligible appliances must be purchased from a participating retailer, according to the state's Web site. If you know the requirements before you start shopping, you'll save yourself from mistakes when filing for the rebate.

Don't dally. Most states are handing out rebates only until their federal funds are depleted, and those who wait too long will be out of luck. "Once they start the program, they have a finite amount of money they can spend," Kielich says. "Run, don't walk, and get your rebate while it's still available." Some states, like Missouri and Texas, plan to allow consumers to "reserve" rebates online before they buy.

Look into other offers. Some states, such as California, will allow consumers to "stack" their federal appliance rebate on rebates from local utility companies if the appliance meets the criteria of both programs. For information on local rebates, check the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.

Kielich also points out that some appliances eligible for state rebates, like certain HVAC systems, also may be eligible for federal tax credits for 30 percent of the purchase price. A list of appliances eligible for tax credits can be found at www.energystar.gov. "It doesn't normally include household appliances, but there are a few things that could qualify," she says.

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