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California Cash for Appliances expands to energy-efficient dishwashers, water heaters and HVAC systems

July 29, 2010 | 11:18 am

When rebates for refrigerators and money for washing machines won’t do the trick, try adding dollars for dishwashers to the mix.

That’s what state energy officials are offering Californians, starting Thursday, in an attempt to boost lagging interest in a 3-month-old rebate program for energy-efficient appliances.

The original rebates included up to $50 for room air conditioners, $100 for clothes washers and $200 for refrigerators. The offer now adds up to $50 for freezers, $100 for dishwashers, $750 for water heaters and $1,000 for heating, ventilation or air conditioning systems. Search for qualifying appliances here.

Waterheater On April 22, California Cash for Appliances launched its branch of a federal program encouraging customers to trade in their old electricity-guzzling machines for new eco-friendly ones. Other states ran through their rebate allotments within hours, so California’s $31.7-million pot was expected to quickly dry up.

Instead, customers have requested less than $12 million so far, according to the California Energy Commission, which is administering the program. The state’s tough efficiency standards meant that many appliances didn’t qualify for the rebates.

Even efforts to ease the restrictions didn’t help much. Instead of requiring that the appliances be sold by May 23, the commission is giving customers rebates until funds run out. And buyers now get 120 days, not 30, to file their rebate applications.

But officials are hoping that giving Californians even more options will push the program into high gear.

Hence the expanded offer, known as California Cash for Appliances PLUS. Consumers can now get rebates for 25 dishwasher models, 165 freezers, 258 boilers, more than 300 water heaters and 2,887 furnaces.

New models were also added to the original list of eligible appliances, allowing customers to choose between 139 refrigerator models, 273 clothes washers and 314 room air conditioners.

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: A General Electric water heater. Credit: GE