July 24, 2014

Getting Your Government Funded Appliance Rebate

The good news is  that the US Government’s appliance rebate program has finally begun.  The bad news is that you have a bit of footwork to do before you get it.

Under the federal program, the rebates can go to buyers of new central air conditioners, room air conditioners, heat pumps, boilers, furnaces, washers, dishwashers, freezers, refrigerators, and water heaters with the Energy Star seal.  Also, it doesn’t matter how old your clunker appliance is, it needn’t be in working order and, in some states, such as Arizona and Florida, you won’t even need to trade it in.

The tricky part is that each state will run its program differently, deciding which of the possible products it will include in the program, when to start and stop offering rebates, the size of the rebates, and which residents will qualify. In Minnesota, for instance, only washers, dishwashers, freezers and refrigerators are covered. The refrigerator rebate is worth up to $100 in Nebraska, but no more than $50 in Georgia. The Alaskan program is limited to residents receiving disability payments from the state or federal government. In Kansas and Oregon, rebates are restricted to low-income people. States have until February 2012 to allocate their rebate money, but the programs will likely expire long before then. Some will last only a week.

Eight states (Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont and Wisconsin) have launched their appliance programs, at least for some products, to capitalize on President’s Weekend appliance sales. The rest are likely to rev up by May, many around Earth Day in April. You can find the rules for your state’s program at Energy Star Web site.

More details to be aware of courtesy of CBSNews.com:

Energy Star appliances can cost $50 to $100 more, on average, than ones that don’t. But the appliance should pay for itself over five or six years through savings on your utility bill. In some cases, your savings come faster. Replacing a washer made before 2000 with a new Energy Star model, for example, can save up to $135 a year, according to the Department of Energy.

• Only 55 percent of new major appliances have the Energy Star label. So you might not be able to get the rebate on the product you want to buy.

• You might not actually get cash. Although some states will issue rebate checks, many will instead give out prepaid cards issued by Visa or MasterCard.

• Unlike “Cash for Clunkers,” where dealers handled all the paperwork, in most states you have to deal with the forms to get your rebate. That means mailing in your receipt, along with proof of residency, a rebate form from the retailer or your state energy department web site, and usually proof that your clunker appliance was picked up.

• It’ll take roughly four to six weeks to get the rebate.

Before you shop:

1. Drill down into the details of your state’s plan. Some states have rigorous requirements about which products qualify, beyond the Energy Star stamp. Others are rolling out their programs in two phases.
Minnesota and Texas let consumers reserve rebates online or by calling a toll-free number about two weeks before they buy. Check online to see if your state has rebate funds left. Some state sites provide an up-to-date tally of the amount left in the kitty.

2. Make sure the retailer you plan to visit is participating. Some small dealers are sitting out because they’ve decided the program is too costly. In Georgia, online purchases won’t qualify.

3. Learn the precise rebate amount for the appliance you’ll buy. You may encounter unexpected twists. In New York’s “Great Appliance Swap-Out,” consumers get rebates for buying eligible appliances individually or in a bundle of three, where the rebate may be larger.

4. See if you’ll get a recycling bonus. Some states boost the rebate by $25 to $75 if you recycle your old appliance.

5. Ask about additional deals. There’s a good chance your new appliance is also eligible for a manufacturer’s rebate or store promotion, too. You may also be able to combine a state rebate with the federal one. Call your local utility to see if it is dangling rebates, too. Often, utilities offer $50 off new energy-conserving appliances. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency is a good place to do your research.

6. Apply for the rebate as soon as you can. Some retailers have in-store computer kiosks where customers can apply for rebates on the spot. In Georgia and New York, as soon as you’ve bought a qualifying appliance, you can reserve a rebate either online or by calling a toll-free number. Since states will halt their programs when their money runs out, you won’t want to conserve your energy when it comes to applying for rebates.

Recall: BSH Home Appliances Corp. Expands Recall of Thermador Built-In Ovens Due to Fire Hazard

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following products. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.

Name of Product: Thermador® Built-In Ovens

Units: About 37,000 (42,000 built-in ovens were previously recalled in June 2007)

Manufacturer: BSH Home Appliances Corp., of Huntington Beach, Calif.

Hazard: The ovens can have gaps in the insulation where overheating can occur and when used in the self-cleaning mode it can cause nearby cabinets to catch fire. This poses a fire hazard to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: BSH Home Appliances has received three additional reports of incidents, including two that resulted in fires that damaged surrounding cabinets. No injuries have been reported.

Description: The recall involves Thermador Brand built-in double ovens with model numbers C272B, C302B, SEC272, SEC302, SECD272 and SECD302 and serial numbers between FD8403 through FD8701. Model and serial numbers are located on the underside of the control panel.

Sold at: Appliance and specialty stores nationwide from June 2004 through July 2007 for between $3,000 and $4,400.

Manufactured in: United States

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the oven’s self-cleaning mode and contact the firm to schedule an inspection and free repair, if necessary.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Thermador at (800) 701-5230 24 hours/day, 7 days/week, or visit the firm’s Web site at www.thermador.com

Picture of Recalled Built-In Oven

Use Appliance Cash For Clunkers or Repair

So many people have been looking forward to replacing their appliances with new ones using the government’s appliance rebate program, but a new appliance may not be your wisest choice according to Angie Hicks of angieslist.com.

Under the new program, consumers will receive a rebate – expected to be between $50-$200 per appliance – in return for getting rid of old energy-consuming appliances and purchasing new appliances certified as energy efficient by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program.

“A good rule of thumb to determine if you should repair or replace an appliance is to look at the age factor and the cost of repair,” Hicks said. “The average price of a service call is between $60-100 before parts and labor. Many companies will deduct their call charge from the total bill if you hire them to make the needed repairs. However, if a repair will cost more than half the cost of the new appliance and the unit is more than six or seven years old, you’re probably better off replacing it.”

That’s when the Cash for Appliances program could really benefit those in need of an upgrade. In addition to the Cash for Appliances rebate, some states and local utility districts already offer rebates for purchases of energy efficient appliance, leading to even more savings.

States have the flexibility to select which appliances to include in their programs and the individual rebate amount for each appliance, however, the Department of Energy recommends that states and territories focus on heating and cooling equipment, appliances, and water heaters, which offer the greatest energy savings potential. States had until Oct. 15 to present the DOE with a plan for how they want to implement their respective programs. The rebates were to go into effect in late November.

The distribution formula for the $300 million program is about $1 for every resident in a given state. California, for example, would receive about $35 million to allocate to the program, while Wyoming would receive about $500,000. Unlike the popular “Cash for Clunkers” vehicle rebate program, consumers will not be required to trade in their old appliances. The DOE, however, is encouraging states to develop recycling plans in their proposals.

“This program is designed to help spur economic growth, create jobs, make homes more energy efficient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Hicks said. “Part of being environmentally friendly is to use products as long as possible, so we’re not filling up landfills with unnecessary waste. So, if your appliance is worth fixing and you can get several more years out of it, repair might be the way to go.”

Angie’s 10 questions to ask to determine whether to replace or repair an appliance:

    Is it really broken? The trouble may be a short in the plug, a tripped circuit breaker, or a bad surge-protector outlet. Check the troubleshooting section of the unit’s instruction manual for the most common problems and solutions.

    How old is the appliance?

    Have you had trouble with the unit before?
    If it’s performed well, it might be worth fixing instead of replacing with something unproven.

    How much will it cost to repair the unit?

    What would a similar appliance cost?

    Are there any hidden costs to purchase (removal, installation, disposal, tax, etc.)?

    How difficult is it to replace the appliance (Is it a built-in)?

    What additional features will I get with the new appliance?

    What energy savings will I get with the new appliance?
    Will they offset the cost of a new appliance vs. repair?

    What tax credits are available for purchasing an energy efficient unit? Will they offset the cost of a new appliance vs. repair?

Angie’s List went to the experts for their estimates on the average life of major appliances:

10-15 years for refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers.

10-20 years for ovens, ranges, and water heaters.

15-20 years for central air-conditioning unit

Jenn-Air to Move to Sears From Lowes and Home Depot

According to an article at Remodel.net, Sears will become the sole national retailer of Jenn-Air appliances after the new year, supplanting existing distribution deals between the super-premium Whirlpool brand and Lowe’s and The Home Depot.

Sears, the nation’s No. 1 appliance retailer, said it will introduce 17 Jenn-Air refrigerators, dishwashers and cooking products by mid-month at 255 of its largest stores. Jenn-Air will continue to be available to independent dealers and regional chains.

This presents Sears with a prestige kitchen collection just as consumers begin planning their holiday entertaining.

Price points for the luxury line run as high as nearly $10,000 for some built-in refrigerator models.

Sears has recently beefed up its high-margin premium portfolio with the addition of Bosch appliances and the expansion of its private-label Kenmore Elite collection.

“Sears continues to listen to our customers who have voiced their desire for a super-premium line,” said Sears’ home appliances president Doug Moore. “Our relationship with Jenn-Air to carry its luxury line of kitchen appliances is another great example of how we continue to enhance our brand offerings.”

Recall: Electrolux ICON and Kenmore PRO Gas Ranges Due to Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Hazard

Name of Product: Electrolux ICON and Kenmore Pro 30” Gas Ranges

Units: About 900

Manufacturer: Electrolux Home Products Inc., of Augusta, Ga.

Hazard: An incorrect part allows more fuel to pass to the range’s oven than can be burned efficiently, causing incomplete combustion and the release of carbon monoxide. This poses a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: Electrolux has received four reports of incidents involving carbon monoxide being released from the recalled gas range. No injuries have been reported.

Description: The following Electrolux ICON and Kenmore PRO 30” free-standing gas range model and serial numbers are included in this recall. For Electrolux ICON, the model and serial numbers are located on the back of the range. For the Kenmore PRO, the model and serial numbers are located near the base of the range just below the bottom right portion of the oven door and also on the back of the range. Not all serial numbers within these ranges are included in the recall.

Brand Model Serial Number Range
Electrolux ICON Gas Range E30GF74HPS NF83000000 – NF93633000
Kenmore PRO 30” Gas Range 790.76913800
790.76913801

Sold at: Appliance retailers nationwide from August 2008 through October 2009 for between $2,500 and $3,500.

Manufactured in: Canada

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the range’s oven and contact Electrolux for the Electrolux ICON or Sears for the Kenmore PRO to schedule a free repair. Consumers can continue to use the cooktop (top burners) and the broiler as well as any clock and/or timer functions.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Electrolux toll-free at (888) 360-8557 between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET Monday through Friday and on Saturdays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., or visit the firm’s Web site at www.gasrangeorifice.com. Consumers with Kenmore PRO brand ranges should call Sears toll-free at (800) 733-2299 between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET Monday through Saturday.

CPSC is still interested in receiving incident or injury reports that are either directly related to this product recall or involve a different hazard with the same product. Please tell us about it by visiting CPSC.gov

Turkey Roasting Tips

Roasting a turkey requires an appliance – your oven, a BBQ, an electric roaster, or if you’re looking for a riskier approach, a deep fryer. If you are going the traditional route, with an oven roasted bird, we’ve got some tips for you.

* Set your oven temperature no lower than 325 °F.

* Place your turkey or turkey breast on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.

* For optimum safety, stuffing a turkey is not recommended. For more even cooking, it is recommended you cook your stuffing outside the bird in a casserole. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the stuffing. The stuffing must reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F.

* If you choose to stuff your turkey, the ingredients can be prepared ahead of time; however, keep wet and dry ingredients separate. Chill all of the wet ingredients (butter/margarine, cooked celery and onions, broth, etc.). Mix wet and dry ingredients just before filling the turkey cavities. Fill the cavities loosely. Cook the turkey immediately. Use a food thermometer to make sure the center of the stuffing reaches a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F.

* A whole turkey is safe when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook turkey to higher temperatures.

* If your turkey has a “pop-up” temperature indicator, it is recommended that you also check the internal temperature of the turkey in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast with a food thermometer. The minimum internal temperature should reach 165 °F for safety.

* For quality, let the turkey stand for 20 minutes before carving to allow juices to set. The turkey will carve more easily.

* Remove all stuffing from the turkey cavities.

Timetables for Turkey Roasting
(325 °F oven temperature)

Use the timetables below to determine how long to cook your turkey. These times are approximate. Always use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of your turkey and stuffing.

Unstuffed
4 to 8 pounds (breast) 1½ to 3¼ hours
8 to 12 pounds 2¾ to 3 hours
12 to 14 pounds 3 to 3¾ hours
14 to 18 pounds 3¾ to 4¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds 4¼ to 4½ hours
20 to 24 pounds 4½ to 5 hours

Stuffed
4 to 6 pounds (breast) Not usually applicable
6 to 8 pounds (breast) 2½ to 3½ hours
8 to 12 pounds 3 to 3½ hours
12 to 14 pounds 3½ to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds 4 to 4¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds 4¼ to 4¾ hours
20 to 24 pounds 4¾ to 5¼ hours

It is safe to cook a turkey from the frozen state. The cooking time will take at least 50 percent longer than recommended for a fully thawed turkey. Remember to remove the giblet packages during the cooking time. Remove carefully with tongs or a fork.

Optional Cooking Hints

* Tuck wing tips under the shoulders of the bird for more even cooking. This is referred to as “akimbo.”

* Add ½ cup of water to the bottom of the pan.

* If your roasting pan does not have a lid, you may place a tent of heavy-duty aluminum foil over the turkey for the first 1 to 1 ½ hours. This allows for maximum heat circulation, keeps the turkey moist, and reduces oven splatter. To prevent overbrowning, foil may also be placed over the turkey after it reaches the desired color.

* If using an oven-proof food thermometer, place it in the turkey at the start of the cooking cycle. It will allow you to check the internal temperature of the turkey while it is cooking. For turkey breasts, place thermometer in the thickest part. For whole turkeys, place in the thickest part of the inner thigh. Once the thigh has reached 165 °F, check the wing and the thickest part of the breast to ensure the turkey has reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F throughout the product.

* If using an oven cooking bag, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on the package.

For more advice on turkey defrosting, prepping and safety visit the USDA’s Food safety site.

$300 Million? When Will the Rebates Start?

Our article about the government’s $300 million dollar rebate program which is part of Obama’s economic stimulus package hasn’t begun and consumers across the nation are wondering if it is ever going to happen.

Unlike the $3 billion clunkers rebate blitzkrieg that boosted new-vehicle sales last summer, this program has proceeded more slowly and is aimed at longer-term household investments. It’s also being run differently, with each state deciding what kind of equipment will qualify for rebates.

The federal Department of Energy said last summer that only residential appliances that carry the Energy Star designation would qualify for a rebate. It suggested that rebates could be applied to water heaters, refrigerators, central air conditioners and other big-ticket appliances.

After talking with several people familiar with the program, it now appears details will be released by the end of the year on exactly the types of equipment each state will include in its rebate program as well as the amount of the rebates.

If you can’t wait for your state to start its program, you might want to look into the possibility of getting a Federal tax credit by visiting the government’s energysavers.gov.

Whirlpool gets US Grant for Smart Appliances

Whirlpool has announced that it is the recipient of stimulus funds as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Smart Grid Investment Grant program.

The grant of $19.3 million over a two year period – which Whirlpool will match with its own investments – will help the company accelerate its work to deliver to consumers smart appliances that can connect with the smart grid. For example, the company recently announced that in 2011 it would deliver one million U.S. manufactured smart dryers capable of reacting intelligently to signals from the smart grid by modifying their energy consumption to save consumers money on their home electric bills. In markets where utilities offer variable or time-of-use pricing, these dryers could save a typical consumer $20 to $40 per year, while also benefitting the environment.

“The grants announced today are a great example of public and private partnerships that will create the next generation of energy saving solutions,” said Mike Todman, president, Whirlpool Corporation North America. “Smart appliances combined with time of use pricing offer consumers the greatest ability to save money on energy costs while benefiting the environment.”

In addition, the funds will complement the company’s commitment that by 2015 all of the electronically controlled appliances it produces – everywhere in the world – will be capable of receiving and responding to signals from the smart grid. This commitment is dependent on two important public-private partnerships: the development by the end of 2010 of an open, global standard for transmitting signals to and receiving signals from a home appliance; and appropriate policies that reward consumers, manufacturers and utilities for using and adding these new peak demand reduction capabilities.