On July 28, 2020, the FTC filed four complaints in federal courts across the country against companies who sell paint products used to coat homes and other buildings. At issue in the complaints are paint products that claimed to help insulate homes or buildings, saving the owner money on utility bills. The cases serve as a reminder that the FTC remains on the lookout for deceptive “green” claims, and that claims of “green” benefits must be substantiated.

According to the FTC, these companies falsely advertise that their products have a greater R-value than they actually do. An R-value measures resistance to heat flow, so the higher the R-value the more insulating power the product has. According to the FTC a misleading R-value could prompt customers to purchase a product which will not perform the way it was advertised. In the complaints, the FTC alleged that the four companies made false or unsubstantiated performance claims where the R-values advertised by the companies were vastly different from the actual R-values that could be substantiated. The companies claimed that the products had R-values of 19 to 30, when in reality the R-values were less than one.

The complaints did not come with accompanying settlements. This suggests that the FTC was seeking significant monetary relief, which the defendants were not prepared to pay. It will be curious to see how these cases progress. In the interim, if you are making claims about energy savings or other green product attributes, make sure you can substantiate them.