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Prepaid Visa cards for inefficient appliances doesn't roll off the tongue like cash for clunkers, but retailers hope the stimulus-funded program will have a similar boost for sales.

"I think it should help," said Gary Gross who sells several qualifying models at Gross Furniture in Trenton, Ga. "Any incentive that the government wants to give will help sales."

The program, which starts today and comes from a $9.3 million piece of stimulus money, awards rebates of $25 to $199 on purchases of Energy Star certified clothes washers, dishwashers, air conditioners, heat pumps, furnaces, boilers, water heaters, refrigerators and freezers.

Shane Hix, a spokesman for the Georgia Environment Facilities Authority, which handles the program, said the rebates should help customers and retailers, but will also help the environment.

"It's both -- to stimulate the sales of new energy efficient appliances and to recycle the old ones," Mr. Hix said.

Appliance dealers agree that they could use a little stimulation.

Larry Langford of Langford Maytag Home Appliance Center in Dalton, Ga., said customers have been repairing their old units rather than buying new ones. In the past, if a washing machine broke, customers would replace it and the dryer, he said.

"Now that the economy is bad, if the washer breaks, that's all they're buying," he explained. "You're not seeing the matching sets."

Georgia Environment Facilities Authority expects to issue about 100,000 rebates. The program will last as long as the money holds out, so there's no official cut-off time, Mr. Hix said.

"It depends on how quickly the customers respond," he said.

The program is generating a buzz inside and outside the state, according to Mr. Gross.

To apply for a rebate:

www.GeorgiaRebate.com

or 1-866-296-1633

"I've already had several calls from folks in Alabama wanting to get in on it," he said.

While the program only applies to Georgia residents at Georgia stores, Tennessee and Alabama will have similar programs coming up in April. Tennessee's starts on April 22 while Alabama's begins April 19.

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