Inaccurate Energy Savings Claims

Posted on: March 16, 2012

This week the FTC announced law suits against 5 well known vinyl window companies for overstating and exaggerating the energy savings resulting from replacement windows. As part of a sales approach, claims of annual energy savings of 30 to 40 percent were consistently made to homeowners. Simply stated, the FTC states that these claims cannot be proven, accurately documented, or the research not scientific and vague.
Makes sense that consumers learn to distrust sales tactics like this.

More accurate and truthful, the actual energy savings in a typical home cannot be forecast like mentioned above. Too many variables exist; occupant behavior, climate, number of windows, location of windows, other issues with the building envelope, insulation in attic and crawl space, HVAC efficiency, and even number of people in the household…all contribute to making predictions unreliable.

Good energy models exist…and are getting better, based on sound building science data, but most sales people are reluctant to dive into engineering on this scale.

Medicine uses years and years of clinical trials to protect the public health. A home is a living organism, relying on many systems working in concert with each other. Therefore, this “holistic” approach to home energy performance means that one trade does not have all the answers to the comfort and health of people in their homes.

Finally, perhaps the best approach is to show people how to connect to all the emerging “data logging” and “dashboard” technologies to measure home energy performance. Then, after a year or two of history, homeowners report back to window companies, state and federal agencies, non-profits, etc., as to the details of what they are really saving….versus the cost of the energy improvement.

So, for window companies, let the sales techniques not dwell on something difficult to prove. Why set themselves up for embarrassment? Simpler needs exist. Replace your windows because your old ones are ugly…and ruin the appeal of your home. The homeowner gets added benefits; improved comfort in their home, perhaps the utility bills go down?

But promises should never be made that cannot be proven, or tested. So, the window industry got a soulful wakeup call this week. Let’s see if the ship steers back on course and corrects it’s navigation.

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