Posted in Specials on May 20, 2010.
PRESS RELEASE: May 20, 2010
Refrigerator Reinvestment Program Launches May 24th in conjunction with Montana Appliance Rebates
Starting Monday May 24th the Montana Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program will offer financial incentives, from $50 to $100, for Montanans to invest in Energy Star-certified appliance products.
The Community Closet, a Livingston nonprofit thrift store, wants to sweeten the deal to encourage the donation of newer (2001 and later) refrigerators so they can remarket these still-efficient appliances so older energy-intensive units can be removed from the grid. According to Executive Director Caron Cooper, “Consumers with older refrigerator models should see a savings of $100 to $200 per year, something quite remarkable in these challenging economic times.”
The Refrigerator Re-Investment Program will partner with Truex Furniture and Appliances in Livingston. The Community Closet will offer new refrigerator purchasers a “reinvestment” bonus of between $50 – $100 to the local nonprofit of the buyer’s choice ($100 if you donate an Energy Star model, $50 for any regular model manufactured in 2001 or later).
Cooper, who holds a PhD in Energy and Resources, noted this is the first time the Community Closet has entered the efficiency market. “I’m stepping in because these federal stimulus incentives ignore most of my shoppers. Rebates aren’t affective for low and moderate-income families because these folks don’t have the cash or credit to purchase major appliances. In Montana a double-whammy is that most folks in this income category are on budget billing, so it could take up to 2 years to start seeing any payback on your utility bill.”
Community Closet hopes to provide up to 20 low-cost refrigerators to consumers. Executive Director of the Community Closet, Caron Cooper stated, “It’s unfortunate that this federally-funded ‘cash for clunkers’ program has one glaring error– you don’t have to own a clunker to qualify for a rebate. The latest refrigerator standards were implemented in 2001, so there might be a lot of good, efficient stock being replaced for aesthetic reasons like upgrading to stainless steel. We anticipate our units will still be 3 to 4 times more efficient than refrigerators made in the 70s, 80s or 90s, and we want to get that sort of savings out of the dump into the community.”
The potential for energy savings is significant, and by offering thrift-store prices, the consumer saves twice. Cooper estimates that the cost per kilowatt-hour saved is 5 times less with the used appliance model compared to new purchase. “If we can replace a refrigerator from the 1980s with a refrigerator from 2001 or later and charge $200, our customers could see full investment payback in just less than a year and a half.
The Community Closet hopes to start selling appliances in early June. “One thing the consumer needs to keep in mind is that if you buy new you have things like warranties and you can hope the new merchandise will have a decent life cycle,” said Cooper. “It’s a no-brainer, if you buy a 2010 model there’s a better chance of it functioning 10 years later than if you purchase a 2001 model, but the payback period is so incredibly short for the re-used refrigerator that this makes up for some of that risk. And for many of us we’ve done the behavioral changes, such as turned off lights and turned down the heat. If we want to have any control over our electricity bills we have to look for low-cost technical options for conservation.”
This pilot program, using donations to nonprofit as incentives, will operate only while the Montana rebates are offered, and are only for refrigerators. The Community Closet will be work with Truex to accept donations of energy-efficient models of other household appliances that are being replaced with new purchases, such as washers, dryers, and dishwashers.
The Community Closet is a nonprofit organization that sells affordable pre-owned merchandise donated by community members. Additionally, no-cost store merchandise is offered to other nonprofits (including teachers) and vouchers to those who can’t afford needed purchases. Profits are redistributed by the board of directors on a quarterly basis to other nonprofits and charitable activities in Park County. Since 2005, the organization has reinvested more than $150,000 in Park County’s people and nonprofit institutions.
The Community Closet thrift store, 416 E. Park St., is open Monday through Friday 10 am to 5:30 pm, and Saturday 8 am to 4:00 pm. The Alley Annex, where everything sells for a quarter or less, is open just one day a week, Sunday, from noon to 4 p.m. It is located behind the Community Closet thrift store.