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FTC Settles Energy Efficiency Claims with Window Marketers

29 Feb, 2012 By: Jackie Jones

WASHINGTON – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has settled charges with five window marketers over “exaggerated and unsupported claims” about the energy efficiency of their windows and the cost-saving benefits that the window products afford consumers, according to an official FTC statement.

All five companies – Gorell Enterprises Inc., Long Fence & Home LLP, Serious Energy Inc., THV Holdings LLC and Winchester Industries – are now prohibited from making claims that consumers can save on their heating and cooling bills by having windows installed. The case is part of an overall, ongoing FTC effort to ensure the accuracy of environmental marketing.

“Energy efficiency and cost savings are major factors for many consumers buying replacement windows,” said David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The FTC is committed to making sure that the information consumers get is accurate and that marketers can back up the claims they make.”

The FTC settlements contain two parts, one of which prohibits each marketer from making unsubstantiated claims about its windows that include a specified amount or percentage of energy savings or reduction in consumers’ heating or cooling costs, or a guarantee or pledge that consumers who replace their windows will achieve such energy savings, according to Venable LLP, a firm specializing in corporate, business and advertising law. Part two of the settlement prohibits each company from making unsubstantiated claims that a specific number or percentage of consumers who replace their windows will achieve energy savings or reduced heating or cooling costs; or claims about energy consumption, energy costs, heating and cooling costs, or other insulating properties or energy-related efficacy.

“Under the settlement, the marketers may make such claims only if they have ‘competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate that all or almost all consumers are likely to achieve the maximum savings claimed,’” Venable noted. “In addition, if the company claims or guarantees that consumers will achieve specific energy savings or reduced heating or cooling costs under certain circumstances, those circumstances must be prominently disclosed near where the claim or guarantee is made.”

In a related story, the FTC also issued a new consumer publication called “Shopping for New Windows,” which provides information on factors that affect the energy savings replacement windows are likely to provide; things to consider when shopping for new windows, such as cost, material, style and installation; and how an energy performance rating label can help consumers choose the windows that are best for their specific needs, according to the FTC.

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