In the weeks leading up to the opening day of South Carolina's Appliance Rebate Program, Frank Medley, the general manager of Air Waves Heating and Air in Columbia, knew the store would have more traffic. What he didn't know was just how much —the store ended up selling three weeks' worth of units in just two days.
"It was unreal how busy we were," Medley said. "Most people will usually call us in the spring when their unit isn't working. I would tell them about the rebate coming up, and for a lot of people, this was the extra push they needed to make the decision."
South Carolina's Appliance Rebate Program offered $3.9 million in rebates—ranging from $50 to $500 depending on the unit—to residents purchasing energy efficient air conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, heat pumps, furnaces and water heaters.
More than 900 vendors distributed 31,000 rebates on ENERGY STAR appliances to 27,000 South Carolina households. Under the program, which ran from late March to mid-May, approximately 215 retail locations sold refrigerators, washing machines and dishwashers and 710 contractors sold air conditioners, heat pumps, furnaces and water heaters.
Due to incredibly high demand, the program ran out of rebates for items typically installed by contractors like Air Waves Heating and Air in less than 48 hours. In comparison to 2009 sales data, there was a 30 percent increase in the sale of ENERGY STAR appliances in South Carolina during the program.
"It was hectic, but it really increased our business," Medley said. "People really wanted to take advantage of this rebate. I was mid-order on one when the funding ran out—I wish they'd had more money to give out. It was really great for the store."
Not only did the contracting rebates boost Medley's business, he was also able to take advantage of the retail rebates by purchasing a new ENERGY STAR washing machine. Retail rebates were available until the program ran out of funding in mid-May.
"We saved $100 on a new washer," said Medley. "If they ran another program like this in the future, I would absolutely participate."