FTC Warns Sites About Energy Claims

The Federal Trade Commission said yesterday that it has sent warning letters to more than 50 companies making questionable gas-saving and energy-related advertising claims about products for sale on their Web sites.

“Our message to the industry is that false or inflated energy claims will not be tolerated,” said J. Howard Beales, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a statement.

Among the products that the FTC deemed questionable were aftermarket automotive devices such as “fuel line magnets, air bleed devices, and other retrofit gadgets” touted with claims such as “saves thousands of dollars on gas!”

The Environmental Protection Agency has tested more than 100 such devices and found none of them significantly improves gas mileage, the FTC said.

Also, some distributors are making questionable claims about the ability of so-called tankless water heaters and home water purification or softening systems to reduce hot-water costs.

Web site operators have also been making false claims about “transient voltage surge suppressors,” the FTC said.

“Although these products can protect equipment from power surges, in the past the Commission and the states have challenged claims that these products provide significant savings for consumers' energy bills,” the FTC said.

The FTC did not name any of the companies to which it sent the warnings.

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