Cash for Clunkers Refrigerators

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Riding closely on the coattails of the Cash for Clunkers program's success, a new $300 million program is being launched by the federal government. Essentially, the Energy Department is merging a promotion for high-efficiency appliances with a bailout plan for companies like Whirlpool and Electrolux. People who forego their current, potentially less energy-efficient dishwashers and laundry machines for new Energy Star-rated machines will also walk away with rebates of up to $200. Ideally, the struggling appliance companies will get some sale-generating action while the laundry-doing, dish-washing public will get a decent check and some savings on their energy bills. Everyone goes home happy.

If it works.

While the idea of this two-way back-scratch makes perfect sense in theory, I don't necessarily think that it's going to pan out so well in practice. Like so many other bailouts-gone-wrong, the $300 million just might not be worth it. In all honesty, if America doesn't need a new dishwasher right now, is $200 is really going to be enough of an incentive? Sure, Cash for Clunkers worked really well, but people went into that experiment with a real need for a car. And yes, people certainly do have to replace their home appliances every so often—but who's to say that they won't end up getting much better deals at any wholesale home appliance store in the neighborhood?

What about you: Would this rebate make you willing to stretch your wallet a little wider to accommodate a new stove in this recession? Does this cash-back program just sound like a clunker? And can you think of any good nicknames for it? Cash for Refrigerators doesn't roll off the tongue so well.

—Remy Braun

photo: r. mcvay/getty images

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