Cash-for-Appliances Funds All Gone

15 percent discount on appliances could run out by the end of the day

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    MARIN CITY, CA - MARCH 26: An Energy Star label is displayed on a brand new washing machine at a Best Buy store March 26, 2010 in Marin City, California. Government investigators from the General Accountability Office has concluded that the Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy Department run Energy Star program is susceptible to fraud and abuse. Investigators attempted to get Energy Star certification for 20 fake products, including a gasoline powered alarm clock, which was approved along with 14 other phony appliances. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

    If you put off shopping for a new appliance hoping to take part in the state's energy-efficient rebate program, we've got bad news for you:  all $6.2 million set aside for the rebates has been used up.

    Illinois got a $31 million boost in retail sales Friday as shoppers clamored for new appliances, Gov. Pat Quinn's office said, depleting all of the available funds within 11 hours.

    More than half of the funds set aside for the state program offering a 15 percent rebate on the new appliances were already used up by midday.

    For the 600 participating retailers statewide, the response was tremendous.

    "Like a rock concert," said an employee of Abt Electronics.  "We've never had a day like today.  It's the busiest morning of our history."

    The governor called the program an "overwhelming success."

    "Tens of thousands of consumers have new, energy efficient appliances at a savings. In the months to come, their energy consumption will be reduced and so will their energy bills," he said. "Our hats are off to the retailers who participated in this program, some of whom are continuing their own sales even after the rebate program closes."

    The premise of the appliance rebate program was simple:

    Buy a government-labeled Energy Star home appliance and get a 15 percent discount. The maximum rebate was $400.

    Several stores were expecting holiday-type levels of sales, and hoped they could boost sales in the same manner that car dealers did with the Cash for Clunkers program.  It seemed to work.

    "Our hats are off to the retailers who participated in this program, some of whom are continuing their own sales even after the rebate program closes," Quinn said.

    The program was slated to run through April 25th, but it didn't even last 12 hours.

    Illinois received a total of $12.4 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to implement both phases of the program. The first phase, which is no longer available, offered rebates on water heaters and heating and cooling equipment. Since the start of the rebate program on January 31, over $35 million in water heater and HVAC sales have been pumped into the Illinois economy.