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FTC ends exaggerated energy claims by window makers

Consumer Reports News: February 22, 2012 03:55 PM

Replacement window manufacturers have long made energy savings part of their pitch to consumers, implying that the new units will pay for themselves in no time. But the science hasn't supported their claims. In fact, Consumer Reports has found that it could take consumers as long as 20 years to recoup the investment. Today, the Federal Trade Commission wielded its own stick by ordering five companies that sell replacement windows to stop making exaggerated and unsupported promises about their products.

"Energy efficiency and cost savings are major factors for many consumers buying replacement windows," said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, in the news release. "The FTC is committed to making sure that the information consumers get is accurate and that marketers can back up the claims they make."

The companies named in the settlements are: Gorell Enterprises, Inc.; Long Fence & Home, LLLP; Serious Energy, Inc.; THV Holdings LLC; and Winchester Industries. They claimed that consumers could cut their energy bills by 40 to 50 percent by using replacement windows alone. In order to continue making such claims, the companies will need to substantiate them with competent and reliable scientific evidence. Given that the Energy Star program notes that replacement windows can only lower household energy by 7 to 15 percent, it's doubtful that the companies will push back on the FTC order.

While windows are not a magic bullet for energy efficiency, replacing the units in your home is smart if they're badly deteriorated. Not only will you reap some energy savings, you will also benefit from the improved comfort, quiet, and aesthetics. Consumer Reports' Ratings of clad-wood, vinyl, and fiberglass windows assesses them by wind and rain resistance, overall durability, and convenience. We also have extensive buying information on features that can enhance energy efficiency a bit further, such as double glazing and low-emissivity coatings.

Daniel DiClerico

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