Greening a Home One Fridge (and Rebate) at a Time (Part 2)


The second in a series of entries for Treehugger on converting an old apartment into an eco-friendly one. I left off last time explaining how I decided to replace my refrigerator. This post will cover how I joined my colleagues at UCS in reaping a monetary reward for doing a little good for the planet

After picking out the ENERGY STAR model that best suited my needs and budget, I ended up with a $649.99 Kenmore stainless steel model with a volume of 18.2 cubic feet that uses 407 kilowatt hours per year rather than the conventional fridge's average of 479. The fridge wasn't as small as some of the ones a few Treehugger posters advocated for in response to my first post, but it is still on the small side for a "normal" looking fridge. I paid $756, including tax and delivery. Compared to a less efficient refrigerator, the ENERGY STAR model will save me about six dollars a year on my energy bill. It might take me several years to make back the difference in price between a standard and ENERGY STAR model on energy savings alone, but thanks to energy-efficiency rebates, the ENERGY STAR model will wind up being cheaper than a regular fridge.

I reside in the District of Columbia, whose Energy Office offers rebates on clothes washers ($150), window air conditioner units ($50), and refrigerators ($100) until May 31, 2007. The process was easy: I downloaded and filled out a form from the site, mailed the form in with the fridge sales receipt and a utility bill to prove I pay utilities in DC. (I live in a co-op and don't have my own utility bill, so I sent in my building's account number). I haven't received a check yet, but I only mailed it in a few weeks ago.

An informal poll of my UCS colleagues (I'm the press secretary) found that others have cashed in on ENERGY STAR rebates. In 2004, Assistant Editor Heather Tuttle and Clean Energy Analyst Jeff Deyette, both in our Cambridge headquarters, bought a clothes washer and received a $50 rebate from the town of Belmont, MA.

Back in DC, the family of Clean Energy program intern Eli Zigas recently purchased an ENERGY STAR clothes washer, which makes them eligible for the $150 rebate in DC. They haven't cashed in on it yet, but I've been assured they will. In California, Clean Vehicles Program & CA Operations Director Jason Mark purchased a tankless water heater this summer, which gets a federal tax credit under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT). He'll be able to deduct $300 from whatever he owes the government come April 2007.

Senior Energy Analyst and Advocate John Rogers, a brand new hire in our Cambridge office, will receive the biggest rebate of all the UCS staff. He purchased a high-efficiency gas furnace over the summer and will receive two rebates. He'll have $150 shaved off his taxes for meeting the EPACT efficiency standard, which is actually a little higher than ENERGY STAR's standard for a furnace. In addition, Keyspan, John's gas company, will pay him a whopping $400 for buying an ENERGY STAR model. Having spent $4200 for the furnace, the $550 in rebates will lower the purchase price nearly 15 percent without considering any savings in using less natural gas.

You can determine what rebates are available in your area by entering your zip code at the ENERGY STAR Web site.

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