A recent article in the Washington Post reported that five companies had been under investigation by the FTC for “exaggerated and unsupported” marketing claims about the energy efficiency of their products, particularly replacement windows.
I am glad to see news like this in the national press. The Washington Post reports that the FTC is coming down on home improvement companies that make exaggerated claims. The companies sited claim you will see a 50% savings on your energy bills this year — some even “guaranteed” the savings.
This kind of advertising hurts the industry and insults the American consumer. Why?
Well, first of all, claims that you will save, say, 50% on your energy bills this year over last year cannot be proven—there is no way that you can demonstrate that replacement windows can actually save you a specific percentage in your energy bills. There are just too many variables.
If you look at the fine print, you will see that the burden of proof rests on you, the homeowner, because you would have to supply bills as well as usage stats. Frankly, that’s hard for the homeowner to do because there are so many factors to consider.
Each home is going to be different— its location, its size, the number of residents at any given time, the insulation package, any existing windows—these are just some of the variables that will ultimately determine the savings a homeowner can truly realize.
And then there’s the temperature differentials! Just think about it — last winter, 2011, compared to this winter. Last year was unseasonably cold and in 2012 we’re experiencing one of the warmest winters on the continent in a decade. How can a homeowner start to account for the energy savings? Is it because of the windows? Or the mild weather?
That’s why Andersen replacement windows, Renewal by Andersen, and Mr. Rogers Windows have subscribed to a policy of integrity in advertising and integrity in pricing. The windows we carry are tested by Energy Star and certified by Energy Star – that means they have been proven to save you a minimum of 15% on your heating and cooling bills.
Andersen’s advanced technology and long standing research and development (since 1903) have allowed them to claim a 25% savings on heating and cooling costs. This is neither unrealistic or exaggerated, given the rigorous standards to which they adhere and the advancements they have achieved in the window industry.
So it comes down to a quality product plus substantiated and well-documented testing by an independent source, like the government’s Energy Star program and the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC). In fact, the FTC’s suggestion that consumers look for the NFRC label when shopping for windows is a good one, or check their website, because the NFRC oversees the Energy Star program, and their ratings are the one to trust.
The numbers you find on the NFRC label will tell you what you need to know as a consumer, and the Energy Star label is your guarantee that the window has been tested and certified! Remember also that your new replacement windows should be sold, installed, supported and serviced by a company that subscribes to integrity in installation practices, pricing and advertising.