5 On Your Side

N.C. appliance retailers ready to support rebate program

Posted April 21, 2010 4:35 p.m. EDT
Updated April 21, 2010 6:41 p.m. EDT

Appliance retailers big and small are preparing for an onslaught of buyers this week as North Carolina rolls out a federally funded rebate program to encourage purchases of energy-efficient machines.

The Home Depot announced plans to open all North Carolina locations at 5 a.m. Thursday to accommodate early-bird shoppers.

Anyone who buys an Energy Star-qualified washer, dishwasher, freezer or refrigerator between Thursday and Sunday can get an instant 15 percent rebate. The purchase has to be a replacement for an existing appliance, and buyers are allowed only one of any type of appliance.

Seth Effron, a spokesman for the North Carolina Energy Office, sought to ease some customer concerns and misinformation.

One customer said he was told he had to “pre-register to get the discount.” At another store, a salesman “doubted” the customer would “get the discount” because the “money would be gone.” Similar programs in Florida and Texas quickly ran out of money.

Effron said consumers should not worry that the state’s $8.8 million fund will run out because it is being administered differently.

Programs in some other states required the consumer to register for the discount, essentially reserving the money, Effron said. Those who did not redeem their certificates are holding money, so those state funds appear to have run out, he explained.

“In North Carolina, when you make the purchase is when the rebate will happen,” Effron said.

He estimated that between 49,000 and 50,000 appliances would have to be purchased to use up all of North Carolina’s allotted funds.

“We feel pretty comfortable that there will be the opportunity for everybody to make a purchase (who) wants one,” he said.

Any money left over after this week’s event will be applied toward a second round of rebates -- on items like central air conditioners, furnaces and water heaters – to be made available sometime in June.