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Posted October 2, 2009 | comments Leave a comment

State offering deal on energy-saving products

By Elizabeth Wilkerson -- ewilkerson@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK -- Whether you're ready to replace your dishwasher or just change some light bulbs, next weekend may be the best time to do it.

The state's Energy Star and WaterSense Sales Tax Holiday will begin at 12:01 a.m. Oct. 9, and end at midnight Oct. 12, according to the Virginia Department of Taxation's Web site. During that period, certain Energy Star and WaterSense qualified products purchased for noncommercial use and costing up to $2,500 will be exempt from Virginia's 5 percent sales tax, the site says.

Any dishwasher, washing machine, air conditioner, ceiling fan, compact fluorescent light bulb, dehumidifier, programmable thermostat or refrigerator that qualifies for the Energy Star designation and costs up to $2,500 will be exempt from the tax.

Clothes dryers and freezers do not qualify for the tax exemption as single units, the site says, but items such as "a stackable washer and dryer or a refrigerator and freezer combination" will qualify if the price of the full unit does not exceed $2,500.

Doug Cowgill, general manager of Spichers Appliances & Electronics at 2730 S. Pleasant Valley Road in Winchester, said the store usually sees an upswing in sales during the tax holiday, which first took place in 2007. Last year, customer traffic jumped about 50 percent during the holiday weekend, he said.

"I don't know how this year will be," given the economy, he said.

To prepare for the tax holiday, the store brings in more Energy Star appliances, Cowgill said.

Brian Cline, store manager of Beidler's Furniture at 128 S. Main St. in Woodstock, said about 60 percent of the appliances the store carries have the Energy Star designation.

"Certainly a sign of the times, I believe," he said. "I believe people are looking forward to [the tax holiday] and it gets talked about year-round."

During the tax holiday weekend, most of the appliances that aren't Energy Star don't get looked at, Cline said.

"Energy Star is much more efficient, as far as yearly cost," he said. "These front-load washers, they cost $12 to $15 a year to operate, as far as electricity."

Cowgill also noted the efficiency of Energy Star appliances.

"For example," he said, "an Energy Star washing machine is going to use less water, have ... a faster spin speed to get more water out of the clothes so the dryer doesn't have to run as long, and you can wash more clothes at one time."

A lot of customers think all appliances can have the Energy Star designation, Cowgill said, but stoves, dryers and microwaves do not have it and aren't eligible for the tax savings. But, "the biggest thing is, if a customer comes in, we can explain it all to them," he said.

WaterSense qualified items include bathroom sink faucets; faucet accessories, such as aerators; and toilets that cost up to $2,500, the Web site says. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of designating certain shower heads and urinals as WaterSense products, but they will not qualify for the tax holiday until they are affixed with a WaterSense label.

Unlike the state's sales tax holidays for clothing and school supplies and hurricane preparedness, manufacturer or third-party coupons cannot be used to bring an item's selling price to or under the $2,500 maximum, the site says.

The sales tax exemption also applies to used items, the site says, and all retailers who sell qualifying items must participate in the tax holiday.

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