FTC Survey to Assess Retailers' Compliance with Appliance Labeling Rule

For Your Information

This summer the Federal Trade Commission will conduct a survey to assess appliance retailers' compliance with the Appliance Labeling Rule. FTC investigators will visit the showrooms of appliance dealers throughout the country to check whether the yellow-and-black "EnergyGuide" labels are properly displayed on appliances that are for sale. Investigators will also review catalogs and Web sites that sell appliances to assess whether they are providing the disclosures required by the Rule. Dealers not in compliance with the Rule may be subject to penalties of up to $110 per unit for appliances from which retailers have removed labels and $110 a day for catalog and online violations.

The Rule imposes obligations on both manufacturers and retailers of certain appliances. Manufacturers are required to attach "EnergyGuide" labels to their appliances. These labels provide consumers with important information about the energy use or efficiency of those appliances, and help them to choose appliances that use less gas or electricity and therefore cost less to operate.

The Rule's energy-usage disclosure requirements apply to appliances including:

  • refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, clothes washers, and room air conditioners;
  • water heaters, furnaces, and boilers;
  • central air conditioners and heat pumps; and
  • pool heaters.

Dealers who sell any of these appliances in a walk-in showroom are required to display the "EnergyGuide" labels on them. A dealer must not: 1) remove the label; or 2) cover it up with any other material or otherwise make it illegible.

The Rule places different requirements on dealers who sell appliances through a catalog or a Web site. A printed catalog must include certain information about each appliance on the page where the appliance is described. The required information includes:

  • the capacity of the particular model;
  • for refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, clothes washers, and water heaters, theestimated annual energy consumption of the model;
  • for air conditioners, heat pumps, furnaces, boilers, and pool heaters, the energy efficiency rating; and
  • the applicable range of estimated annual energy consumption, or energy efficiency ratings of appliances comparable to the one offered.

A dealer selling appliances through a Web site must include the same information that is required for printed catalogs. The FTC will soon make available guidance on complying with the Rule that will be especially useful for online sellers.

The complete results of the survey are scheduled to be released in early fall.

This press release is also available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.

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