The German government is considering giving up to 150 euros ($220) in cash to shoppers to encourage them to replace power-hungry freezers and refrigerators, a senior Berlin official has said.
Many households have outdated appliances
This would imitate a highly successful scheme in Italy, where Rome grants tax rebates to buyers of more efficient home appliances.
Peter Hintze, a junior minister at the Economics Ministry in Berlin, told an industry audience at the IFA electrical-goods fair in Berlin on Tuesday that the project was still under discussion by politicians, who say too much power is being wasted by old appliances.
The average German home freezer is 17 years old and the average refrigerator dates back 14 years, he said.
"Our biggest potential energy source within the nation is the energy we can save," he said in remarks to leaders of the appliance manufacturing industry at the annual expo of new products.
Berlin would raise the 200 million euros needed annually for the scheme from sales to industry of carbon-dioxide emission rights.
Friedemann Stoeckle, an expert with the GfK German consumer-electronics association, said Italy's rebates for new refrigerators and freezers had lifted sales markedly. The new appliances must meet the top European Union energy-use standards, A+ or A++.
He said a similar scheme had also worked well in the Netherlands several years ago, with appliance prices remaining stable despite the program.