A few weeks back, I posted this entry about window companies and the energy savings claims they make. If you remember, the post concerned rumblings that the FTC has been looking into numerous window companies nation-wide, specifically in relation to the way they claim energy savings in their advertising.
As it turns out, the FTC just announced that they’ve sent a series of warning letters to numerous window installation businesses. A significant part of that announcement was that they actually released all of the warning letters, along with the names of the businesses, to the public.
While none of the businesses hail from the Cincinnati BBB’s service area, the letters actually contain some pretty good advice for home improvement-related businesses who might consider making energy savings claims in their ads. Here’s a quick summary:
- Energy-savings claims must be backed by scientific evidence.
- Be specific about the types of savings all (or most) consumers can expect.
- Avoid deception when making “Up-to” claims by making the “Up to” a number that all (or most) consumers can expect to save. (Yes, it bears repeating.)
- Avoid deception when selecting home characteristics for modeling.
- Clearly disclose any information that might affect the offer.
- Usually, testimonials and “Case studies” won’t cut the mustard. Pay special attention to the FTC’s guides on endorsements when using these in ads.
- If you’re a manufacturer, you might be responsible for the claims you make to dealers and retailers.
All told, this summary should provide a more-or-less complete primer on just how to approach energy savings claims. In addition to this, if you’re in the market for energy-efficient home products, keep these tips in mind. Should you come across an advertising claim that you think might sound a little too good to be true, ask the company about it. Try to verify any energy savings claims that seem high. Finally, ask your local BBB about it—the chances are pretty good they’ve been in contact with the business already. If not, we’d at least be able to provide some advice on where to go to ensure you’ll choose the business that best fits your needs.