Terms like “save up to,” “save over,” “more than,” “at least,” and the like may be deceptive when used in conjunction with energy savings. Energy savings claims are often quite vague and may not necessarily apply to all consumers, increasing the potential for deception. BBB recommends that advertisers use a range to describe product savings potentials and be able to substantiate the claims if asked.
The Code of Advertising, the BBB’s long-held advertising standards for all businesses, states that claims regarding energy savings should be based on recent and competent scientific, engineering, or other objective data. Businesses should have proof that energy savings claims are true before they advertise them.
Governmental regulatory agencies are paying close attention to these types of claims, too. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fined Thermalkool, a home insulation manufacturer, for their deceptive energy efficiency and cost savings claims. The business claimed their products “Saves 40 to 60% on your energy bills.” Unable to substantiate their savings claims, the business paid a penalty of $350,000 for their deceptive advertising claims!
If you see a claim such as “save up to 90% on your electricity bill,” contact your local BBB. BBB can reach out to the business to ask that it substantiate the advertised claims.
Most businesses answer BBB and adhere to the Code of Advertising. But if the claims aren’t substantiated and the business won’t change or stop the challenged claims, that information will be added to the BBB Business Review.
Be skeptical and use these tips to evaluate energy savings claims:
- Look for certification – See if the business is certified or accredited with groups or environmental agencies that specialize in energy savings. Always check with the organization that certified or accredited the business to verify it is in good standing. Find out what the business must do to earn the certification or accreditation.
- Be leery of guaranteed savings – Be extremely cautious if a business guarantees to cut your bills or energy usage by a specific amount. Ask to see the guarantee in writing and look it over carefully to determine any restrictions, requirements or limitations, and how the guarantee would be honored.
- Use good judgment – As always, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Check with BBB – Search bbb.org to find thousands of local businesses that are committed to advertising with integrity and ensuring their consumers are satisfied.
If you have observed or fallen victim to deceptive advertising, contact BBB Dallas’s Ad Review Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.