"In very real ways, this has stimulated our economy and moved money in North Carolina," said Seth Effron, communications director for the North Carolina State Energy Office. Effron estimates that 62,970 appliances have been discounted through the program.
"We've taken federal funds and turned that into $64 million in retail sales. Consumers are now realizing purchase price and utility bill savings," he notes.
The program was managed under two phases. Under the first in April, North Carolina offered residents 15 percent rebates on energy-efficient refrigerators, freezers, clothes washers and dishwashers. During the second phase in June, consumers received rebates between $75 and $300.
Approximately 87 percent of the funding for the program was used during the first round. Effron estimates that 20 percent of the rebates reserved may not be fulfilled because consumers did not mail in the rebate form or for other reasons. The state currently has a waiting list for residents who would still like to try to get a rebate on an eligible purchase.
Helping residents, businesses
While retailers saw increased sales, and consumers benefited from lower pricing on energy efficient appliances, delivery companies and dishwasher installers have also seen increases in business, Effron said.
One North Carolina retailer that saw an increase directly because of the program was Garner TV and Appliance, just outside Raleigh. General Manager Randy Pleasant said he thought the program went very well.
"I don't know what could've been done differently, really," he said. "We were very pleased with our numbers."
Garner's location in its namesake city has been in business for three decades and saw sales during the rebate program it had not seen in years — a month's worth of sales in just four days. The company's Raleigh location did even better — almost three months' of sales worth of appliances sold.
"We had a steady flow of people each day, and we opened on Sunday, which we don't normally do," Pleasant said. "The customers we saw come in were ready to make a purchase."