Iowans overloaded a federally-funded appliance rebate program with “hits” and phone calls today. The Iowa Appliance Rebate Program launched at 8 a.m., but most users were unable to log-on to the website or reach a phone number to register and claim their rebate.

Linda King, with the Iowa Office of Energy Independence, says an out-of-state contractor hired to run the rebate program said the website was designed to handle 11,000 web hits per hour. This morning, the system failed when it tried to field 25,000 web hits in an hour.

King says the website, www.iowaappliancerebate.com, is operating again – but it may take a few tries for users to gain access to the site.

 “Google has us as one of the top four Google hits in the world right now,” King said. “That’s causing a lot of volume for our internet and our phone systems.”

Iowans can also reserve their rebate by calling 1-877-267-7495. Most callers are hearing a busy signal. There are around 9,000 rebates available. King predicted the $2.7 million in federal money would last at least two weeks. “We just ask that Iowans continue to be patient and continue to call or go on-line,” King said. “It’s a first-come, first-serve (program) and people have already been served. If you get a busy signal, just keep trying. When all of the money has been reserved, we will make that announcement to the public.”

The program is designed to help Iowans replace older, inefficient appliances with new Energy-Star models. The mail-in rebates range from $100 to $500. Rebate phone lines are scheduled to remain open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday until the rebate money is gone.

More information about the rebate program is available on the Iowa Office of Energy Independence website: www.energy.iowa.gov.