Save money on tax free weekend

HOUSTON You'll need to wait a few days -- but depending on what you buy, it could be worth your while. You have heard of the tax free weekend for back to school clothes. Now the state of Texas is offering a tax free weekend for energy efficient appliances and even light bulbs.

If you are thinking about buying a refrigerator, wait for Memorial Day weekend. The state of Texas is giving consumers a break on energy saving appliances. Basically anything that has an Energy Star rating qualifies. It'll save you 8.25%, an incentive John McCallister may take advantage of as he refurbishes a condo.

He said, "We are looking for everything -- dishwasher, stove, refrigerator, the whole works."

The discount applies to products both large and small -- for instance, light bulbs. Even if you don't need to replace one, it may be a good time to stock up.

"Light bulbs are a huge, huge commodity," explained Zion Greenfield with Home Depot. "It is probably the second or third fastest moving product. We constantly redo our shelves during the daytime."

While 8.25% may not seem like much, the savings can be significant for those needing a new air conditioner. The tax free weekend applies to AC units that cost up to $6,000. At that rate, consumers can save nearly $500 if they need a new unit.

Greenfield said, "Any time you can save 8.25%, and if the government is saying, 'Here, we want you to invest in you saving dollars on your energy bill,' that's very rare that Uncle Sam does that."

Retailers say the Energy Star rating is already a big concern for buyers. Consumers have already asked Brenda Penrice at Best Buy about the upcoming sale.

"They told us it was coming up this Memorial Day weekend," she said. "It's going to be tax free, all Energy Star."

The devices with the Energy Star rating will also save consumers money over the life of the appliance. Penrice said, "With our washers and dryers, it is very, very efficient because of the power that it saves. You save on the dryer, too, but the washer you save on the water because on a top loader you use 40 gallons of water versus 15 gallons on a top loader."

There are more than half a dozen Energy Star appliances and devices that will be sales tax exempt. To qualify for the sales tax exemption, the Energy Star logo must appear on the appliance, the packaging or the Energy Guide label. The tax break also applies to catalog or Internet sales of eligible products during Memorial Day weekend and to items placed on layaway or removed from layaway during that weekend.

    The products qualifying for the exemption are:
  • Air conditioners priced under $6,000 (room and central units)
  • Clothes washers (but not clothes dryers*)
  • Ceiling fans
  • Dehumidifiers
  • Dishwashers
  • Light bulbs (incandescent and fluorescent)
  • Programmable thermostats
  • Refrigerators priced under $2,000

  • * Because most dryers use similar amounts of energy, Energy Star does not label clothes dryers.

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