The subsidy, which ranges from $150 to $500 depending on the new model that is purchased, aims to help households afford a more energy-efficient fridge and freezer.
It is estimated refrigeration uses up 40 per cent of household energy and this increases when the fridge or freezer has broken seals. A new energy-efficient fridge and freezer could save households between $200 and $300 per year on their electricity bills.
To be eligible for the rebate, which is available for households on Rarotonga as well as the outer islands, people need to bring their old fridge/freezer in for exchange to either CITC or Motor Centre. They can then select a new fridge/freezer from an approved list of models, and fill out an application form available from the retailer. The retail price offered by CITC and Motor Centre already includes the rebate, which is funded by the Asia Development Bank.
Team leader of the project Felix Gooneratne said the retailers will be taking orders from the outer islands before the new models are shipped over.
The grant is enough to cover 325 households, but Gooneratne said if there is high demand for the rebate, the fund may be able to be topped up by the Asia Development Bank.
The old fridge/freezer must be at least five years old to be eligible for the exchange.
The project was born after the 2011 Census, which indicated there were many households with old fridges.
Gooneratne said the main factor that deters people from buying an energy-efficient fridge is the cost.
“People can’t afford to pay the higher cost for higher energy efficiency.”
The project aims to bring the price of energy-efficient models more in line with the lower cost of less efficient models. Gooneratne said the overall cost of the fridge/freezer models is up to the retailers.
“CITC and Motor Centre will now start to compete in terms of prices,” he said.
Gooneratne said the old fridges will be de-gassed, dismantled and shipped to New Zealand for disposal by Recycle Cook Islands.
“Before, if a fridge doesn’t work, people just chuck it out,” he said.
Gooneratne said this is a pilot project that he hopes can be used as a model for other projects in the future.
Dianna Clarke Bates, manager of CITC Avarua mainstore, said the project aims to promote more energy efficient fridge/freezer models.
“You may be paying a higher price (for an energy efficient model) but you save in the long run.”
A memorandum of understanding for the initiative was officially signed yesterday (Wednesday), and a brochure with details about the project and which fridge/freezer models are eligible for the subsidy will be distributed to households over the next few weeks.