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Cash for clunker appliances = big savings
Judy Sonke shows off one of 17 front-loading washing machines at the Manteca Sears store that qualifies for $250 in rebates starting Thursday. - photo by DENNIS WYATT
You wouldn’t expect people to be lining up at the crack of dawn to buy energy and water efficient washing machines as well as energy saving refrigerators.

But that is exactly what is expected to happen Thursday when California uses federal stimulus money to launch “Cash for Appliance Clunkers.”

And if what happened in Utah is any indication, the money set aside for a $100 per qualifying washing machine or refrigerator will be gone in four days or less. California has $35 million set aside for its version of the appliance clunker program. Virtually everyone involved believes the money will all be gone in days.

“We have had people coming in selecting what they want to get and preparing paperwork,” said Judy Sonke of the Manteca Sears located in Manteca marketplace on West Yosemite Avenue.

The Manteca store will open at 6 a.m. and stay open until 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

“We want to make sure the people of Manteca have the opportunity to get their share of the (cash for clunkers) program,” Sonke said.

Manteca residents actually can score some of the biggest savings in California by virtue of where they live providing they don’t hesitate.

The reason is simple. If they select a washing machine that meets the top California energy standards - the Sears store has 17 front-loading washing machines that meet that requirement - they can obtain the $100 clunker rebate, plus a $100 City of Manteca washing machine rebate for water efficiency, and a $50 PG&E energy rebate. The replacement machine has to be an inefficient appliance which is basically all traditional top loading machines

That - when coupled with a 30 percent on-the-spot discount Sears is offering on all Energy Star appliances – brings the cost on a mid-range LG front loading washing marching down $250 or essentially half price.  That makes a front loading model with a wide range of features actually cost less than a traditional top loaded washing machine with no extra features that uses more water and more electricity and doesn’t clean as thoroughly.

“This is the lowest in 14 years I’ve ever seen Sears discount appliances,” Sonke noted adding the additional rebates from the state, city, and PG&E makes deals that she never expects to see again.

You will also continue to save with less water use per load. The LG, as an example, uses five gallons compared to a top-loaded washing machine with the same volume that uses 35 gallons of water. That ultimately means a lower municipal water bill. At the same time annual energy consumption is a third of that for a conventional washing machine.

The rebate also applies to top-of-the line steam cleaning front loaders that effectively brings the price down to $750.

Sears has pumped up its inventory but once the washing machines are gone so is the $100 clunker rebate as it is limited to the money the state has on hand.

In order to qualify for the rebate you have to have your existing washing machine recycled by an authorized outlet. Sears has such qualification. The Manteca store is going one step further. If customers don’t want to have it delivered for $75 at which time the store’s crew will pick up the old machine and do the qualifying paperwork, they can bring it to the store and switch it out for a new purchase and still receive the paperwork. The clunker rebate is only good if the older machine is processed through an authorized recycler.

Because California opted to apply the clunker rebate to only the most energy efficient appliances, there are only two qualifying refrigerators at the Manteca Sears store. Even so, the $200 rebates on top of the 30 percent discount puts the cost of a large energy efficient side-by-side down to $569.