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Government cash for green appliances

If you missed your chance to get cash for your clunker, you may soon have another shot at getting government money for going green. Just step out of the garage and into the kitchen.

This year's stimulus bill funded a $300 million program that will offer rebates of varying amounts — possibly up to $200 — to buyers of energy-efficient appliances and other products that carry the "Energy Star" label.

The rebate programs are being run by the states, and the details are still being worked out. But unlike Cash for Clunkers, you probably won't have to drag your old stove into the store to get money for a new one.

Here are some questions and answers about the rebates.

Question: What is this program?

Answer: The government has set aside about $300 million for states to use to give out rebates to buyers of energy-efficient appliances like freezers, refrigerators, furnaces and central air conditioners.

Q: When will this start?

A: The Department of Energy estimates that the full $300 million will be awarded to states by the end of November, and consumers should start to see the rebate programs in stores later this year or early next year.

"It will really just depend on how complex the state's program is and the infrastructure they have to put in place," said department spokeswoman Jen Stutsman.

Q: How much money is being awarded to each state?

A: The allocation to states and territories is based on population, working out to roughly $1 a person per state.

Q: What will the average rebate look like?

A: The Department of Energy won't give a number, since it says it won't know what the states' plans are until mid-October. But the appliance industry's trade group, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, said consumers should expect to see rebates of between $50 and $200, since that's what states with existing rebate programs typically give.

Q: What's the thinking behind the program?

A: Similar to the clunkers program, the goals are to stimulate the economy and improve the environment.

The rebates might spur new appliance sales, which would help an industry that's really been struggling.

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