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Energy Lamps Off Label Package Claims
Manufacturers regularly make offlabel performance and efficiency claims on their packaging to market their bulbs.
The NPRM expressed concern that these claims could undermine label disclosures regarding bulb life and operating cost.113 For example, a package could prominently claim a fiveyear bulb life, assuming two-hour per day use, contradicting the on-label life disclosure based upon a three-hour per day assumption.
To address this problem, the Commission proposed requiring manufacturers making off-label claims about life or energy cost to:
1) clearly and conspicuously disclose the assumptions underlying their claim;
2) feature the same life or energy information (i.e., claim) based on the electricity rate and usage assumptions required for the label in close proximity to, and with equal clarity and conspicuousness as, the off-label claim.
Thus, in the prior example, the manufacturer would have to clearly and conspicuously disclose that the fiveyear life claim is based on a two-hour per day use assumption and disclose the bulbs life based on the three-hour assumption used for the on-label disclosure.
Comments: No commenter specifically objected to these proposed requirements. However, some urged going beyond a triggered disclosure to ban or restrict certain off-label package claims, including bulb life and energycost claims based on assumptions that differ from those used for the Lighting Facts label.
Three commenters supported barring claims not based on assumptions prescribed by the Commission.
Specifically, GE joined NEMA in proposing that the final amendments bar all claims based on use and cost assumptions differing from those required for on-label disclosures.
In addition, NEMA recommended prescribing, to the extent not already proposed, certain assumptions for claims related to CRI, energy cost, and watt equivalence.
Similarly, the Energy Efficiency Advocates supported banning several types of claims that do not conform to prescribed assumptions or fail to report data in a prescribed manner.
They further recommended requiring manufacturers to base comparative claims (e.g., saves X dollars compared to other bulbs) on comparisons to a standard incandescent bulb, rather than the least efficient type of incandescent bulbs.
The Energy Efficiency Advocates and NEMA also suggested regulating the format of off-label claims so that they do not detract from or dilute the meaning of the label disclosures.
As an example, the Energy Efficiency Advocates suggested limiting the font size of power-use or watt-equivalence claims to the size of the front-panel disclosures.
In addition, while not offering specific recommendations, NEMA voiced support for specific formatting requirements to prevent consumer confusion.
Discussion: Despite comments urging a ban of off-label claims that are not based on Commission-prescribed assumptions, the final amendments neither prohibit claims based on alternate assumptions nor mandate a particular format.
While a lifetime claim based on an assumption of other than three-hour use per day (or a cost claim based on an electricity price other than 11 cents per kWh) could be misleading, banning such claims limits manufacturers ability to convey useful, non-deceptive information.
For example, a manufacturer may place a chart on its package with cost information based on several electricity price assumptions. Such a chart could help consumers in locations with higher electricity prices by providing the operating cost of the bulb in their region. Moreover, the Commission cannot conclude that manufacturers can make such claims non-deceptively in only one format.
Given the potential for confusion, however, the final amendments continue to require manufactures who make such off-label claims to clearly and conspicuously disclose the assumptions used to derive them (e.g., two-hour per day bulb use).
Moreover, consistent with the NPRM, these manufacturers must repeat the claim using the label assumptions with equal clarity and conspicuousness, and in close proximity to the off-label claim.
For example, manufacturers could comply by presenting consumers with a chart showing the cost of operating a bulb at several realistic electricity price points, as long as one is 11 cents per kWh (the assumption required for the label).
The Commission, however, cautions manufacturers that they must have substantiation for their claims and that unrealistic assumptions could render claims misleading.
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