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Appliance Rebate Funds Expected To Dry Up Quickly

September 23, 2010

GALESBURG — Owners of local stores taking part in Friday's Illinois Energy Star Appliance Rebate Program are expecting the estimated $3 million in rebate money to run out quickly. A similar program in April saw about $5 million in rebate funds gobbled up the first day of what was scheduled to be a two-day program.

"It was the same situation (in April)," Dick Allen of Allen's Home Appliance Center, 247 N. Cherry St., said Wednesday, comparing the spring and fall rebate programs. "You start at 8 on a Friday morning and go until the money runs out. We're supposed to report our sales every hour. I think (the money) will last until 9 (a.m.) at least."

The Citizens Utility Board on Tuesday urged shoppers to get to stores early in order to take advantage of 15 percent rebates (up to $250) on new, energy-efficient refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes washers and freezers. Money for the program comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

"Illinois consumers know that it pays to be energy efficient, and the rebate program proves it, literally," CUB Executive Director David Kolata said. "Our advice to Illinois consumers is to plan ahead and get to stores early on Friday."

Dick Lindstrom of Lindstrom's TV & Appliance, 400 E. Main St., said there are no plans to open the downtown store early Friday.

"We talked about that," Lindstrom said. "I think what we're going to do is our regular store hours. A lot of our customers who are going to take advantage of the program have pre-shopped, which is what happened the last time the program was held."

Lindstrom said customers who did that had the opportunity to take measurements and decide what model of a particular appliance they wanted to buy. He said that kept shoppers from being "under the gun."

Some customers were "pre-qualified" for the program at Lindstrom's as much as three weeks ago, Lindstrom said. He also does not expect the rebate money to last long.

"I think the same kind of thing is going to happen (as happened in April)," Lindstrom said. "It definitely won't be more than one day. It may be two hours, it may be four hours."

Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse, 531 W. Carl Sandburg Drive, and Sears, Sandburg Mall, also are taking part in the program. Sears stores will open at 7 a.m. with additional staff on hand to help shoppers identify which appliances qualify for the rebates, complete the necessary rebate forms and help customers submit the rebates for purchases made at Sears before they leave the store.

In an article posted on Lowe's website, Mike Abt of Abt Electronics, the state's largest appliance store and an Energy Star partner, said of the April 16 rebate program, "It was a very exciting day, as tens of thousands of people came to our store."

Abt said the store did double its normal business that day.

Allen said he hopes customers understand that local stores have no control over how fast the rebate money is used.

"We hope you get it and we'll do our best to get it for you," he said. "We say it's a perk and let's use it, but don't get mad at me" when the money runs out.

April 16 Rebate By the Numbers

Illinois Energy Star Appliance & Rebate Program

  • 35,995: Number of appliances purchased,
  • $5.47 million: Rebates given out between in-store sales and mail-in offers for recycling refrigerators and freezers.
  • $33 million: Total sales generated.
  • 189 billion: Total expected lifetime Btu savings (using U.S. Dept. of Energy's calculations).

Source: Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity

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