November 14, 1999
Office of the Secretary
Re: 16 CFR Part 460 - Trade Regulation Rule: Labeling and Advertising of Home Insulation; Proposed Rule
The comments to this proposed rule focus on a need for an alternate to the steady-state R-value and revision to the information provided to the homeowner.
As stated in the Federal Register, "The purpose of this Rule is to provide consumers with information about thermal insulation products, based on uniform standards, that allows them to make meaningful, cost-based purchasing decisions among competing products." We believe the Commission has accomplished the task of creating a mechanism for utilization of a uniform standard for providing information of thermal insulation products, however needs to take the next step; "that allows them (consumers) to make meaningful, cost-based purchasing decisions among competing products".
To allow for a "meaningful" decision by the consumer, they will have to be informed of the variables that impact the type of insulation they are selecting. Impacts to the amount of functioning R-value (depending on the type of insulation) are various as pointed out in the Federal Register e.g. temperature difference, air leakage and the relative humidity in the air leakage. The Commission to meet the purpose of the rule has to provide information that goes beyond the static "R-value".® - registered trademark of International Paper
We also take great exception to the Discussion point:
Another method has to be found, and at this point we would support the CIMA proposal of a disclosure of the Rayleigh numbers for materials under specific conditions. A Rayleigh number that takes into account R-value, air permeability, and temperature difference to produce an expression of relative insulation performance is a correct direction in the evolution of this Rule.
We suggest that a working panel be established to make recommendations to Commission on how this expression of relative insulation performance be accomplished. Trying to arrive at such an accomplishment from various comments and make it meaningful is impossible. Perhaps PATH - "Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing", NIST or another appointed body could assist in creating this working panel.
Labeling can only be addressed upon completion of how home insulation performance is going to be referred. The existing practice is misleading. The Commission has unknowing placed a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval on the R-value. The use of the quote "Higher R-value means greater insulating power." is not a statement that assists the consumer in a cost-based purchasing decision. If anything it says more is better, but leaves out the function of cost component needed reference to diminish returns.
Only the identification of another "expression of relative insulation performance" is going to solve the misleading labeling problem.
We urge the formation of a panel or group to arrive at the expression of a relative insulation performance that takes into account the variables e.g. R-value, air permeability, temperature difference, etc.
Michael E. McKitrick
® - registered trademark of International Paper