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Crist signs bill giving energy-saving rebates

MIAMI — Florida will begin offering rebates on energy-efficient appliances in an environmentally friendly attempt to boost sales under a bill signed into law Monday.

Gov. Charlie Crist signed the bill, which gives rebates on energy-efficient appliances, such as washing machines, refrigerators, dishwashers and freezers. The precise details of the program, including how to qualify and how much a person could save, were not immediately outlined, but Crist’s office said consumers could save up to 20 percent per appliance on average.

“This rebate program will help Floridians buy appliances at discount rates, lower utility costs and benefit Florida businesses by stimulating sales of energy-efficient appliances,” Crist said in a news release after the bill signing in Orlando.

The bill’s sponsor said at least $18 million in federal stimulus funds would go toward the program. The Legislature also allocated $150,000 to the Florida Energy and Climate Commission, which will implement the rebate program.

Although an energy-efficient washing machine costs about $1,000, compared with about $575 for a traditional machine, it saves about $600 in water and energy costs over its life span, according to data from the Federal Energy Management Program.

Maribel Balbin, water use efficiency manager for Miami-Dade County, said a similar rebate program in the county was so popular that funding couldn’t meet the demand. It was canceled in its second year.

The first year, she planned for 150 rebates of $200 each and received more than 800 applications. With just the local funding, the program had to be canceled.

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