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Pull the Plug on Inefficient Appliances  Smart Choices Archive

Pull the Plug on Inefficient Appliances

Environmental Services of Iowa will pick up and dispose of your old appliance in an environmentally friendly way.

Energy Efficiency: Appliances

Replace old appliances
Thinking about replacing one or several outdated appliances? Now is an ideal time to unplug energy-draining older appliances ... and get a cash rebate for doing so.

Local electric cooperatives have partnered with Environmental Services of Iowa (ESI)  in a program called Pull the Plug. ESI, based in Adel, picks up and demanufactures high-energy-use appliances to take them off the energy grid. ESI safely moves the components into recycling or disposal in accordance with local, state, and federal laws and regulations.

What's in it for you?
You'll save energy. According to ESI, the average cost to operate an outdated appliance ranges from $70-$120 more per year than an ENERGY STAR appliance. As an example, according to ENERGY STAR, getting rid of an old fridge can provide substantial savings. Check out the retirement savings calculator at ENERGY STAR.
You'll recycle safely. The average refrigerator 10 years of age or older contains more than 120 pounds of recyclable steel, and the energy saved by recycling it is equivalent to almost 290 kilowatt-hours.
You'll get paid for recycling certain appliances. Members of our cooperative will be mailed a check after the appliances are picked up by ESI. The appliances include:  freezers, refrigerators, and window air conditioners.

Steps for participating in Pull the Plug

  1. Notify your electric cooperative by phone, email, or website form if your cooperative provides it. Qualifying appliances: old operating freezers, refrigerators, and window air conditioners. All appliances must be in working order to qualify for the check from your cooperative. 
  2. ESI will contact you to confirm the request and provide an estimated collection time. ESI will send you a sticker for each eligible appliance to be collected. Stickers must be placed on the appliance. ESI will also contact you 1 to 2 days before pick-up to verify that you are ready for the pickup.
  3. The appliance must be empty and located “curbside” for collection, meaning it has to be outside the house or inside a garage or shed. ESI will not enter your home to remove the old appliance.
  4. For safety, be sure to secure the doors of refrigerators and freezers, using duct tape, twine or some other method (you can remove doors if you want). 
  5. When ESI picks up the unit, it is checked to be sure it’s still operable. The pickup staff loads the unit and hauls it away. You will receive a rebate check in the mail within several days.
  6. A maximum of three appliances per year per resident can be recycled in this program. If ESI discovers no appliance or if the appliance picked up does not qualify (for example, if it is not in working order), you may be charged by your cooperative for the unnecessary trip to your home. 
  7. Read all program details at the ESI site.

What happens to your appliances?
The “big three” hazardous waste products ESI removes from appliances are:

  1. Refrigerant, found in freezers, refrigerators, and window and central air conditioners.
  2. PCBs, found in furnaces, microwaves, and window and central air conditioning units. While this substance was banned from manufacturing processes in 1977, it can still be found in old, existing units.
  3. Mercury switches, found in chest freezers that have a light that comes on when you open the unit to a certain point.

Pick-up of nonqualifying appliances
If you are having ESI pick up a qualifying appliance and have additional appliances you want to get rid of, let your electric cooperative know. ESI can pick up the additional appliance, but there is a charge for each nonqualifying appliance.

If you don’t have a qualifying appliance but would like ESI to schedule a pickup, contact ESI directly at 866.993.1870. ESI will arrange with you directly for the pickup and payment; if your cooperative has an online form, don’t use this REC system for the pickup.

Nonqualifying appliances that ESI will pick up for a fee include: commercial vending machines, dishwashers, dryers, furnaces, hot water heaters (gas and electric), humidifiers, microwaves, nonworking central and window air conditioners and refrigerators and freezers, stoves (gas and electric), trash compactors, washers, water coolers, water fountains, and water softeners.

What happens to your appliance after ESI picks it up?
The appliances you send to ESI will not be reconditioned and resold, and all components are disposed of in an environmentally sound manner.
The process requires documentation throughout the entire cycle, beginning with paperwork at the pickup point. The pickup serial number is logged into a database once it’s delivered to the facility. Then, as the hazardous components are stripped out, the serial number also accompanies the tanks of Freon, the PCB, and the mercury from the switches as they move on to handling companies in other states. 

Some of the materials can be re-used. The metal can be converted into rolled steel for car parts and appliances. Freon is tested and some of it can be reconditioned and resold. Mercury can also be recycled. PCBs, on the other hand, are sent to a hazardous waste facility where they are incinerated.

For more information on the Pull the Plug program, contact your Touchstone Energy Cooperative.



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