Cost-Saving Claims Allegedly Are Unsubstantiated
The Federal Trade Commission has charged a Pittsburgh-based manufacturer, Innovative Designs, Inc., with making false and unsubstantiated claims that its Insultex House Wrap would save consumers money by providing significant insulation without using much space.
According to the FTC, Innovative Designs claims its thinner, less-expensive, house wrap has an insulation value of R-3 and its thicker, more expensive product has an R-6 value, and that its advertised R-values are based on valid scientific testing. In fact, the FTC’s complaint alleges that the R-value of both products is substantially less than one, and the test results and a certificate touted by the company are flawed and invalid.
R-value is a measure of resistance to heat flow – higher overall R-value provides greater insulating power and can reduce heating and cooling costs. Building codes throughout the country require that certain areas within new homes contain enough insulation to meet or exceed specified R-values.
Like all house wrap, Insultex House Wrap is designed to keep rain outside exterior walls but allow water vapor from inside the house to escape. Innovative Designs, however, distinguishes itself from its competitors with its R-value claims. It calls its product “THE ONLY HOUSE WRAP WITH AN R-VALUE” and claims that it saves people money on their home energy and building costs when compared with other house wraps. The FTC charges Innovative Designs with failing to substantiate its claims that the purported insulation value of Insultex House Wrap saves consumers money.
The FTC also alleges that Innovative Designs provides brochures and other promotional materials to builders, dealers, installers, and building supply stores, with the same deceptive claim, which they pass on to consumers. The company’s products cost from $0.45 to $0.56 per square foot at retail. Other widely available house wraps that do not claim an R-value cost from $0.06 to $0.24 per square foot.
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint was 3-0. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The case will be decided by the court.