Toronto, July 20 /CNW/ - Beginning today, Ontario consumers will save money through a temporary Retail Sales Tax (RST) exemption on the purchase of qualifying ENERGY STAR® household products.

"We all have to do our part to save energy and reduce the demand for electricity in this province," said Finance Minister Greg Sorbara. "This tax exemption will make energy-efficient products more affordable, encouraging consumers to go green at home."

This initiative will provide a point-of-sale RST exemption for certain qualifying ENERGY STAR® household products purchased, rented or leased after July 19, 2007, and before July 20, 2008. The exemption applies to refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes washers, freezers, dehumidifiers and room air conditioners. Qualifying ENERGY STAR® light bulbs and decorative light strings are also exempt through this initiative. To qualify:

-the product must be listed, at the time of purchase, as ENERGY STAR® qualified by the Office of Energy Efficiency, Natural Resources Canada;

-the purchase must be a first-time sale, rental or lease for at least one year, of a new qualifying appliance; and

-the contract for the sale must be entered into after July 19, 2007, and prior to July 20, 2008, and delivery must take place on or before September 1, 2008.

Installation costs for qualifying built-in appliances and delivery charges for ENERGY STAR® products are also eligible for the RST exemption.

"Climate change is a reality for each and every one of us. Energy conservation must be a priority," said Sorbara. "Our initiative is a win-win situation for both consumers and the environment. This tax break will make it easier for consumers to make the right choice when making their purchases."

The RST exemption for qualifying ENERGY STAR® products is expected to provide approximately $36 million to Ontario consumers in 2007-08 and a further $15 million in 2008-09.

This tax break is one of many initiatives introduced by the McGuinty government to encourage Ontarians to conserve energy and fight climate change - right from the comfort of their own home.

The 2007 Budget announced almost $125 million in environmental measures with more than $200 million in additional funding over the next three years.

The provincial government has also:

-doubled the maximum RST rebate for qualifying hybrid electric vehicles from $1,000 to $2,000, making the decision to purchase fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles more attractive and affordable for Ontario's consumers;

-extended the temporary RST rebate for residential purchases of solar, wind, micro hydro-electric and geothermal energy systems to purchases made before January 1, 2010 to continue support for the production of cleaner energy.

Ontario is also matching grants provided under the federal ecoEnergy Retrofit program. Grants are available for such things as furnaces, central air conditioners and water heaters. Ontario is also providing homeowners with rebates of up to $150 to help subsidize home energy audits - including those undertaken as a first step to participating in the ecoEnergy Retrofit program.

For more information on ENERGY STAR® products, please visit the Energy Star website at www.oee.nrcan.gc.ca/energystar.