SEATTLE – An Ohio-based window manufacturer has settled allegations over erroneous energy-savings claims. In a settlement with the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, Great Lakes Window, Inc. agrees not to make false or unsubstantiated representations about the energy efficiency of their window products.
“Window manufacturers like Great Lakes and not just companies that sell windows directly to consumers must avoid deceptive marketing tactics like energy savings pledge programs that promote false or unsubstantiated energy savings claims,” said Assistant Attorney General Jack Zurlini. “Our settlement prohibits those marketing practices and puts a few dollars into the pockets of affected consumers.”
Great Lakes Window, Inc. sells replacement windows to retail window companies nationwide, including businesses in Washington state. One such company is Statewide, Inc., also known as Penguin Windows. The Attorney General’s Office reached a separate settlement with Penguin Windows in March.
From about 2004 through 2009, Great Lakes sponsored an energy savings pledge program used by Penguin Windows. The program promised that consumers who purchased new windows and doors throughout their homes would save at least 40 percent in energy costs the first year, or be paid the difference. In its complaint, the Attorney General’s Office says the claim was false – a violation of the state’s Consumer Protection Act.
The AG’s Office says the energy savings actually realized as a result of replacing old windows varies greatly due to many energy-consumption factors, including the type, size and location of the windows replaced; the home’s insulation; the climate at the home’s location and the type and condition of the home’s heating and cooling systems. As a result, consumers should not believe advertising claims that promise all homeowners will realize the same high percentage of energy savings. The only way to accurately estimate the actual energy savings a particular home will achieve by replacing windows is to have an extensive whole-home energy audit conducted by a reputable company that looks at all energy-consumption factors, not just the windows.
Under the settlement, Great Lakes does not admit to wrongdoing and specifically denies the allegations. However, it agrees not to engage in the prohibited marketing practices and will set aside $50,000 for refunds for qualifying homeowners. The window manufacturer will also review and respond to written customer complaints about energy efficiency claims and keep records of those complaints for four years.
The Attorney General’s Office agreed to suspend $25,000 in civil penalties provided Great Lakes abides with consumer protection laws in the future. The company will pay $10,000 in attorneys’ fees and legal costs.
Washington state homeowners who replaced all of their patio doors and windows with those manufactured by Great Lakes and sold and installed by Penguin Windows between from Nov. 1, 2004 to Nov. 1, 2009 will receive letters about reimbursements.
Janelle Guthrie, Director of Communications, (360) 586-0725