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Are Window Effi ciency Claims “Up To” Any Good? Are AllFiresthe Same?


Federal study fi nds window effi ciency claims leave consumers unsure


Replacing old windows boosts a home’s energy effi ciency, but by how much? A new study from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) cautions consumers not to expect all claims to live up to perceived expectations.


Energy-effi cient windows offer lower heating, cooling,


and lighting costs; in fact, replacing old windows with qualifi ed models can cut a home’s energy bill 7 percent to 15 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s ENERGY STAR program. But true energy savings depends on proper installation and type of windows installed—facts that we often miss when reading window advertisements. “Energy effi ciency and cost savings are major factors for


many consumers buying replacement windows,” explains David Vladeck, director of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The FTC is committed to making sure that the information consumers get is accurate and that marketers can back up the claims they make.” To understand how consumers perceive advertised


savings, a 2012 FTC study evaluated how 360 consumers in fi ve states interpreted the potential energy savings of advertised windows. One ad evaluated displayed the following text: “PROVEN


TO SAVE UP TO 47 PERCENT ON YOUR HEATING AND COOLING BILLS!” Another version removed the words, “up to,” while a third version added this disclosure statement: “The average owner saves about 25 percent on heating and cooling bills.” More than one-third of consumers who saw the “Up


To” version reported the advertised windows would save most homeowners 47 percent on their energy bills-a far cry from the true average energy savings. However, including a disclosure statement did not weaken the ad’s impact. “The FTC believes this report will help guide advertisers to


avoid the use of misleading “up to” claims,” Vladeck notes. Earlier FTC studies stopped misleading advertisements from fi ve replacement windows manufacturers. A window shopping guide is available at:


www.ftc.gov/bcp/consumer.shtm >Energy > Shopping for New Windows. Sources: Federal Trade Commission, ENERGY STAR


Where there’s smoke, there’s fi re. And while all


blazes may look the same, fi res should not be treated equally. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, more than 26,000 electrical home fi res result in property damage, injuries, and even death every year. Remember this acronym F.I.R.E for electrical safety:


Find the source before it starts: Old or faulty wiring often emerges as the main culprit in electrical fi res. Heat from wiring or an overloaded system can provide the strike that leads to a fi re.


Investigate the signs: If you notice fl ickering lights, recurring trips in a circuit breaker, or a tell-tale sizzling sound around wiring and hot light switches, call a qualifi ed electrician. These may indicate an imminent fi re hazard.


Remedy the problem: If you have any signs of a pending fi re or have worries about old wiring, contact a professional electrician. Other precautions include: • Use correct wattage bulbs to prevent overheating fi xtures. • Avoid using damaged cords or running cords under rugs. • Do not overload outlets or extension cords. • Do not use appliances in wet areas.


• Routinely check appliances for signs of wear and tear or overheating.


Exit the Building - Extinguish Properly: If faced with an electrical fi re, call 911 immediately and have everyone exit the building. Know the proper way to approach it. • Never use water on an electrical fi re. Water conducts electricity, so it will not smother the fi re and may lead to electrocution.


• If the circuit breaker does not trip in the area on fi re, shut off the main breaker to the house. Approach the breaker only if the fi re is not nearby and if your hands are dry.


• Never use a Class A extinguisher on an electrical fi re. Use a Class C or a multi-purpose ABC model. If no extinguisher is available or class of extinguisher is not known, baking soda may help smother the fl ames.


• Again, if the fi re is not quickly extinguished, exit the building.


Even though the source and treatment of fi res may differ,


they produce the same results. You are no match for the force of a house fi re—learn F.I.R.E. and protect yourself.


Electrical Fire Culprits


About 26,000 household electrical fires occur in the U.S. every year. Following are the top five pieces of equipment that ignite residential electrical fires.


Electrical Wiring le Cord, Plugrd lu


Other Heatingin


0


Lamp, Lightingigh in 11.3%


9.9%


8.5% 10%


20% 30% 40% 50%


Source: U.S. Fire Administration National Fire Incident Reporting System; Residential Building Electrical Fires Volume 8, Issue 2; 2010 USFA Fire Estimate Summary


23.5% ic


46.8% irin


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