Replacement window makers have been warned by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about energy claims. The warning, issued to 14 window manufacturers and one window glass manufacturer, states that they must review their marketing materials, their energy savings claims must be backed by scientific evidence, and they may be making unsupported energy savings claims. The warning letters are part of the Commission’s effort to ensure that environmental marketing is both truthful and based on solid scientific evidence.
The letters state that the FTC reviewed the company’s web sites and found claims similar to those challenged in administrative complaints filed earlier this year by the Commission against five companies, it said. Those five companies agreed to orders that banned them against releasing exaggerated and unsupported claims about their windows’ energy efficiency and the amount of money customers could save on their energy or heating and cooling bills by installation of their windows.
According to the Commission’s press release: “Earlier this year, the FTC settled five law enforcement actions against companies making allegedly deceptive energy savings claims for their replacement windows. Now the FTC has sent letters to 14 window manufacturers and one window glass manufacturer, warning that they may be making unsupported energy savings representations for their products. According to the letters, FTC staff saw some statement on the companies’ websites that looked a lot like the ones challenged in the earlier cases. No, there hasn’t been a decision about whether the companies have violated the law, but the letters urge them to take another look at their claims with some basic principles in mind.” The Commission vote to publicly disclose the warning letters received a unanimous 5-0 vote. The letters can be accessed on the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov/os/actions.shtm.
Claims highlighted in the warning letters involve promises that consumers would save in excess of 30 percent on their energy or heating and cooling bills after installing the firms’ replacement windows. The FTC urged the window makers to ensure energy-saving claims are backed by scientific evidence, that expected savings be specific, that deception is avoided when making “up-to” claims and when selecting home characteristics for modeling, that assumptions be clearly and prominently disclosed, and that care be exercised when utilizing testimonials and case studies. The FTC pointed out that manufacturers might be liable for misleading or unsubstantiated claims to dealers, retailers, and consumers. The letters were sent to:
- Cardinal Glass Industries
- Acadia Windows & Doors Inc.
- Nationwide Window & Siding Corp.
- Pace Window & Door Corp.
- Pal Windows
- Ringer Windows
- Sierra Pacific Windows
- SureGuard Windows
- SwissShade & Security, Inc.
- Thompson Creek Window Company
- Value Windows & Doors
- Vytex Windows
- Weather Shield (and its glassmaking component)
- West Window Corp.
Under the Federal Trade Commission Act, truth-in-advertising rules that apply to advertisers state that advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive, advertisers must have evidence to back up their claims, and advertisements cannot be unfair.