As Energy Prices Rise, FTC Prevails in Deceptive Energy-Efficiency Case

In response to legal action by the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida ordered SPM Thermo-Shield, Inc. to permanently halt deceptive energy-efficiency claims it has been making about wall coating products that it sells for houses and other buildings. The court issued a permanent injunction prohibiting SPM Thermo-Shield and its officers from misrepresenting the coatings’ insulating or energy-saving capabilities.

“We know consumers are concerned about rising energy costs,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “In this environment, it’s more critical than ever that sellers be honest about energy efficiency claims—and we are poised to hold them accountable when they are not.”

In July 2020, the FTC sued four companies, including Florida-based SPM Thermo-Shield, that sell paint products used to coat buildings and homes, alleging they deceived consumers about their products’ insulation and energy-savings capabilities. The FTC charged the companies with falsely overstating the R-value ratings of the coatings, and making deceptive statements about heat flow and insulating power.

A product’s R-value is a measure of its resistance to heat flow: the higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power. Using R-value and other product information, consumers can make purchasing decisions that improve the energy efficiency of their homes. The R-value depends on the type of insulation, its thickness, and its density. The R-value of most insulations also depends on temperature, aging, and moisture accumulation.

The complaint against SPM Thermo-Shield and its officers, Peter and George Spiska, alleged they falsely claimed their Thermo-Shield Roof Coat, Thermo-Shield Exterior Wall Coat, and Thermo-Shield Interior Wall Coat have R-values of R-22 or R-21 and provide significant energy savings for consumers.

Enforcement Action

In issuing the opinion and order the court found that although SPM Thermo-Shield and its officers admitted that the R-value claims the FTC challenged were false, and stated that they had removed them from their marketing materials, the claims did, in fact, reappear after the lawsuit was filed. It permanently prohibits the defendants from:

  • Misrepresenting the R-value of any architectural coating product;
  • Making unsubstantiated claims that any architectural coating product is equivalent to, or substantially similar to, the R-value of any other product or system or provide the equivalent of adding insulation with a specific R-value; and
  • Claiming that any architectural coating product will provide energy savings without disclosing that such savings vary according to several factors, such as location, climate, building type, and level of construction.

The order also prohibits them from providing the “means and instrumentalities” that would allow anyone else to make such misleading R-value or energy-savings claims.

The opinion and order and permanent injunction were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Fort Myers Division. They have now been signed and entered by the Court.

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