For the third time during George W. Bush's presidency, the federal government appears poised to cut a deal that would put tax rebates in the hands of consumers, as early as May and as late as July. The goal is to stave off a much-dreaded recession by kick-starting more consumer spending. Economists disagree on the effectiveness of the plan, but many say it worked pretty well in 2001.
So who gets what? Individual taxpayers would receive up to $600 in rebates, working couples $1,200, and those with children an additional $300 per child. Also, 35 million families who make at least $3,000 but don't pay taxes would get $300. Rebates start tapering off for those with adjusted incomes greater than $75,000 ($150,000 for couples).
In a world of mixed messages, federal economists hope consumers will spend their checks quickly, while financial planners counsel their clients to pay down their debts or save the windfall. Here are some ways you can put your rebate toward going green, while still getting something new and building future wealth. These purchases have 3 great things going for them: They save on electricity, reducing greenhouse gases. They save money for the homeowner, so they actually get the original tax rebate back in dollar savings on energy bills. And they pump needed money into the economy.
Green Washing Machine
1. Buy an Energy Star Washing Machine
The EPA's Energy Star label indicates high energy efficiency. By choosing a washing machine under that program, consumers can save a cool $50 per year in electric bills, plus water savings. Models are readily affordable from all the major manufacturers, from Kenmore to GE, Asko, Miele and more.
Dish Washer Energy
2. Get an Energy Star Dishwasher
No one likes doing dishes, but the process can be made as painless, and affordable, as possible with a new Energy Star dishwasher. The EPA estimates you'll save $90 on electricity alone over the life of the machine, plus you'll save a bunch on water. That's because Energy Star machines use 35-50% less water each wash.
Energy Star Refrigerator
3. Put the Rebate Toward a New Energy Star Fridge
Refrigerators account for a sizable 15% of the typical homeowner's yearly electric bill. Let that sink in. Now, consider that new, energy efficient models use 40% less electricity than ones sold in 2001. Depending on where you live, and how old your current clunker is, you could easily save over $50 a year by upgrading to an Energy Star fridge. Over time, you'll get your initial tax rebate back in your pocket via energy savings.