RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—The Cash for Clunkers program officially ends tonight at 8 p.m., after coaxing more than 450,000 drivers into new, more fuel-efficient autos. Yet, those who didn't feel the need to trade in their old cars don't have to miss out on getting cash for other clunkers. There are a few other programs out there willing to pay you money for everything from leaky windows to your old Polaroid camera.
Here are four clunkers that might bring you some extra cash:
#1: Your avocado fridge. Refrigerators are a household's biggest energy hog, and they can last as long as 17 years. Fridges made prior to 1994, when the government's energy-efficiency laws went into effect, can use more than 1,500 kilowatt-hours per year, compared with more modern fridges’ average of 486. So, to get people to toss those old energy guzzlers, a power utility in Michigan is paying its customers $50 to recycle them, and offering to pick them up for free. Check your utility company for a similar program. If it doesn't have one, it's still smart to ditch an old fridge. A post-1994 Energy Star-rated model can put an extra $150 per year in your pocket in the form of lower electric bills. And if you think holding on to an old fridge until it dies is greener than recycling it, a study from the University of Michigan found that upgrading any pre-1994 model is better for the planet—even after you factor in all the energy required to manufacture and ship a new model.
#2: That clanking water heater. Buy a new water heater, upgrade your heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system, or even replace those old drafty windows before the end of this year, and you'll qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $1,500 come April 15th. The products that qualify for the tax-credit have already been selected by the Energy Star program; note that not all Energy Star products apply—only the most efficient in their category. If you can't afford to upgrade before the end of ’09, don't worry; the credits apply to upgrades made before the end of 2010.