Minnesota shoppers, your wait is nearly over.
The state's long-awaited dollars for dishwashers program will launch Monday, as Rochester appliance outlets prepare for a surge in customer traffic.
"This week we've been getting tons and tons of calls from people asking about it," said Dean Freiheit, co-owner of Appliance Village in Rochester.
As interest has built in the rebate, Warners' Stellian Appliance Co. has maintained an online newsletter aimed at keeping people updated on the latest about the rebate program.
"I got an e-mail from a guy today. 'I will be online March 1 at 8 a.m.," said Julie Warner, marketing assistant for the appliance seller.
That's when Minnesota consumers will be able to take advantage of a program that state officials and retailers began planning for back in September, funded by $5 million in federal stimulus dollars. While the rebates are expected to be more modest than the Cash for Clunkers program that was also funded by federal stimulus dollars, they are still expected to pique consumer interest, especially when combined with rebates offered by manufacturers and utilities.
The rebates can be obtained only by directly contacting the program on the Internet or by telephone. The number of rebates is limited, and retailers expect they may be snapped up within a few days.
The appliances eligible for a rebate — and their rebate amounts — include:
• Clothes washers ($200)
• Dishwashers ($150)
• Freezers ($100 with purchase and proof that their old freezer has been taken off the grid: $50 for purchase only.)
• Refrigerators ($200 with purchase and proof that their old refrigerator has been taken off the grid; $100 for purchase only)
More than 25,000 households will be able to qualify for a rebate to replace their old appliances with a qualifying Energy Star model. Each household is eligible for one rebate.
Warner recommended that those interested in taking advantage of the rebate prepare by pre-shopping for their appliance.
"You definitely need to know what appliance category you're going to purchase, because you reserve the rebate by appliance category," Warner said.
Three appliance outlets have been selected as official partners in the stimulus program, including Warner's Stellian, Sears and Best Buy. Still, the rebates can be used at any retailer.
Warner said she expects the rebate to bring motivated shoppers to showroom floors. Much of the confidence stems from the sizable discount consumers can expect from the rebate. Take, for example, a Maytag clothes washer now priced at $549.
The rebate program lops off $200 of the list price to $349. Other potential rebates offered by Rochester Public Utilities, Warner's Stellian and Maytag could bring down the price even lower, to as low as $169, Warner said.
Officials estimate the program will save more than 2.2 million kilowatt hours in energy, nearly 44 million gallons of water and more than 4.7 million pounds of carbon annually.