April 2012

Volume 21, Number 4

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Green Topics

FTC Cracks Down on "Seriously" Exaggerated Window Claims

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By Erin Weaver

If you’ve ever wondered just what a product guaranteeing “up to 50% savings” will deliver, you have something in common with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). FTC has reached a settlement with five manufacturers of replacement windows, part of a larger effort to rein in deceptive claims in environmental marketing.

The companies named in the settlement (Serious Energy, Gorell Enterprises, Long Fence & Home, THV Holdings, and Winchester Industries) were found to have made unsubstantiated claims—for example, that their windows would “cut energy bills in half.” The settlement requires that statements about windows’ energy efficiency be supported by reliable evidence and prohibits “guarantees” that consumers will achieve a certain percentage of savings by replacing their existing windows. When the phrase “up to” is used, the agreement requires evidence that all or nearly all consumers will reach the target specified.

The FTC has also published a fact sheet called “Shopping for New Windows?” to highlight factors involved in replacing windows for energy savings. For more information, visit www.ftc.gov.

Comments (2)

1 Who Polices the FTC? posted by Nadav Malin on 04/02/2012 at 06:07 am

Unfortunately, I find FTC's new "shopping for windows" guide seriously lacking. It uncritically promotes vinyl windows, and ignores the benefits--in many situations-- of passive solar gain.

2 Restore don't Replace Old Win posted by catherine brooks on 09/19/2013 at 11:49 am

Recent scientific and field (not laboratory) studies prove that similar or better energy efficiency can be achieved by restoring, weatherizing and adding non-obstrusive storm windows. Old windows constructed 50-300 years ago were made of irreplaceable hardwood. This wood can be repaired; the glass panes reglazed; the chain or rope pulleys replaced; the full sashes tightly weatherized; and attractive storm windows installed on the interior or exterior. In addition to reducing the homeowner's heating bill, the aesthetic value of the old windows is maintained. Replacement and even newly-fabricated, look-alike wood windows will never preserve the authentic, historical and real estate value of original wood windows.

Third, we recently published the Window Preservation Standards  I mentioned in March.  These standards help remodeling contractors actually do this work. Last month you should have received a copy of the Window Preservation Standards  from Bob Yapp, one of the Founders of the non-profit Window Preservation Standards Collaborative (WPSC).

Over 140 window restoration specialists, architects, state and local historic preservation and planning offices, DIYers, and builders collaborated to author these Standards.  The Standards  provide the much-needed information on how to restore old wood windows. Materials required,  step-by-step instructions, and quality evaluation criteria are described in layperson language. Already 300 homeowners, local and state historic preservation offices, architects and now progressive remodelers are purchasing these standards to help set job and outcome requirements for contractors. I am the Chairperson of the WPSC Marketing Committee. Our goal is to propagate these standards across the world. The 300 copies sold through our website: http://www.windowstandards.org  in our first month with no press releases or advertising is a testimony to the demand for such clear and concise information.

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March 26, 2012