Insulate Industries, Inc., of Auburn, Washington, and company vice-president and co-owner Garry E. Wamsley, have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges they misrepresented the thermal performance, or energy efficiency ratings, of windows Insulate Industries manufactured and sold in the Pacific Northwest. The thermal performance of a structure's windows can affect the amount, and consequently the cost, of energy needed to heat and cool the structure. (The thermal performance of a window is represented by its U-value: the lower the U-value, the greater the window's energy efficiency.) The FTC alleged that sample windows they submitted to a laboratory for thermal performance testing were modified to improve the test results. The test results then were used to sell unmodified production windows, according to the FTC.
The proposed settlement to the charges would prohibit the defendants from misrepresenting the thermal performance of production windows, and would require the company to provide 1,000 code-compliant, current production windows that can be used in government -funded projects and structures that qualify for energy conservation incentives in Oregon and Washington.
According to the FTC's April 1995 complaint detailing the charges, Insulate Industries submitted sample windows to laboratories for U-value testing. Since at least 1986, the defendants had, in some instances, submitted for testing samples that were constructed differently from corresponding production units, the complaint alleged. These modifications allegedly made the samples' U-values better than the U-values of corresponding production windows. The test results allegedly were reported to federal, state, and local government agencies and utility companies operating energy conservation programs and paying incentives for high performance windows, to show that production windows complied with the programs' U-value requirements and qualified for incentives. (Compliance with these requirements is essential to those who buy or sell windows and other fenestration products because windows that do not comply may not be sold in certain markets, or may be competitively disadvantaged, the complaint states.) In addition, the defendants had repeatedly used the test results of modified samples to show distributors, builders, contractors, and consumers that corresponding production windows complied with Pacific Northwest energy-conservation program requirements, the complaint charged.
The proposed settlement to these charges, which requires approval by the judge, would prohibit the defendants from making any representations about the thermal performance or energy efficiency of production windows or fenestration products unless they possess and rely upon competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate the representations. Test samples would be required to be representative of production windows.
In addition, the proposed settlement would require the defendants, within six months after the settlement is approved by the court, to provide, without charge, 1,000 windows to building code and/or energy conservation agencies in Oregon and Washington.
The proposed settlement contains a number of record keeping and reporting requirements designed to assist the FTC in monitoring the defendant's compliance with the settlement.
The FTC filed the proposed settlement in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, in Seattle, on October 11, 1996. The Commission vote to file the proposed settlement was 5-0.
NOTE: This stipulated final judgment is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. The judgment has the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the stipulated final judgment, as well as other documents associated with this case, are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, Th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TRY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC News phone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov
James Reilly Dolan
Bureau of Consumer Protection
(Civil Action No. C-95-624)
(FTC File No.X95 0038)