When my husband and I bought our home, like many other Marylanders, a refrigerator was already there to greet me. Sure, it made a little noise, but it had been doing its job for years, still looked great, and kept my food cold, my salads green and my ice frozen. The fridge and I maintained an understanding, that as long it kept working, I would have no reason to replace it.
But I now know that there is more to it than just that; thanks to improvements in our technology over the past decades, new appliances are less expensive than ever to buy – and because they are so much more energy efficient, they are less expensive to own. The US Department of Energy maintains a standard of energy efficiency, and these “Energy Star” appliances are recognized as highly efficient products (as well as homes and businesses) that save money, energy and help protect the environment. So, as I looked at my family’s monthly electricity bills for opportunities to save money, I began to view my old refrigerator in a new light.
For over a decade, the Shop Maryland Energy Weekend has fallen on Presidents’ Day Weekend and exempts certain “Energy Star” appliances from Maryland’s six percent sales tax. Eligible items include air conditioners, washers and dryers, furnaces, heat pumps, boilers, dehumidifiers, programable thermostats, compact fluorescent light bulbs, and standard-size refrigerators (solar water heaters remain sales tax exempt year-round). In addition to providing a great deal to mor energy-efficient appliances, by shopping in mid-February, this law encourages Marylanders to support our local retailers during a time of the year when sales are historically slow.
As your new Comptroller, I will always support Maryland’s businesses, ensure we have a fair and equitable tax administration system, and, as a member of the State Board of Public Works, spend tax dollars responsibly. But I also recognize families face tighter budgets these days and we are all looking for ways to make adjustments. That’s why I think it is also important to mention that the sales tax exemption applies to used appliances as well and that many Maryland appliance retailers sell both used and new “Energy Star” rated appliances. That, when coupled with the discounts offered by manufacturers, retailers, and utility companies, can add up to hundreds of dollars in savings.
Shop Maryland Energy Weekend is a great example of a win-win-win: this deal helps families save money month-to-month on their bills, supports our local retailers, and creates communities that are more sustainable and environmentally conscious.
There’s a vast range of products to choose from, and while you may not need a smart refrigerator that can play your favorite song while you cook, it may be worth taking a trip to your local appliances store this weekend to see what’s out there.
Brooke E. Lierman
Comptroller of Maryland