Advertising for Logicor:
a. A website, www.logicor.co.uk, for a research and development company, seen on 21 April 2017, included a product page for the Clear Heater System which contained the claims “We expect you to save at least 50% on your heating energy bills and in some cases up to 85% or more, provided you run the CHS system at the same temperatures and for the same length of time as you previously ran your old heating system”.
b. A website, www.clear-heater.co.uk, for an infrared heating product, seen on 12 April 2017, included a page titled “Save Energy” which contained the claims “Our patented technology has been proven to save substantial energy compared to using typical electric or gas central systems. Provided you run the CHS system at the same temperatures and for the same length of time as you previously ran your old heating system, we expect you to save at least 50% on your heating energy bills and in some cases much more”. Further on the same page under the heading “Typical Energy Savings” there was an image of a property with the title “Energy savings monitored in a typical 4 Bedroom Detached (Edwardian) Room Type: Living Room Occupants: 2 Adults”. Underneath was two bars which contained the claims “92.13% vs Std Electric*” and “50.48% vs Std Gas*”. This was followed by text “As you can see, the most savings can be made against a conventional electric heating system in all household types, and substantial saving can be made too against conventional gas central heating systems. *Source: Logicor (Group) Ltd Market Research January 2013”.
Two complainants, who both had the system installed in their properties, challenged whether the savings claims compared with other heating systems were misleading and could be substantiated.
Logicor (CH) Ltd said that their patented technology had been proven to substantially save energy compared to typical electric or gas central heating systems. They stated that the Clean Heater System (CHS) was an all-electric phased infrared radiant heating system and that the heating panels were run from the mains electricity supply and that they used electricity to generate infrared. The panels had a user-variable surface temperature but were not convection heaters in the same way as central heating systems. Further, they explained that the control panel communicated with each Clear Heater in a household in order to maintain the selected temperature in the most effective manner. They stated that the Control Panel, which had received Energy Savings Trust approval, made the system more responsive and easier to control than other systems such as the wet system which pumped hot water in to radiators.
They also provided test data from two trials which compared the CHS with electric storage heaters and gas central heating.
The ASA considered that consumers would interpret the claims in ad (a) and ad (b) to mean that if they installed the CHS they would make savings on their heating energy bills of around 50–85% if they ran the system at the same temperature and for the same length of time as they had run their previous system. We considered that consumers would interpret the claim in ad (b) to also mean that in a four-bedroom detached (Edwardian) property housing two adults, 92.13% had been saved on energy bills compared to a standard electric heating system and 50.48% on energy bills compared to a standard gas heating system. We further considered consumers would understand that was an illustrative example, and they would be likely to understand that they would also achieve similar savings in other property types.
We considered the testing and methodology provided by Logicor.
Logicor provided two pieces of trial data from internally conducted tests, which had not been independently verified. The first report compared the CHS to a gas central heating system. The test data report showed that the calculations were made by taking the customer’s yearly spend on gas energy and made the assumption that the customer used the system for an average of eight hours a day. We noted that the CHS testing was based on the system providing a constant temperature for 24 hours a day, and therefore to compare the two, Logicor had to determine the hourly cost of running the gas system to calculate the cost for both systems over a 24-hour period. Both consumers provided Logicor with their actual energy spend which Logicor then used to calculate the annual energy spend per customer and to breakdown how much of this was attributable to space heating. They used this figure to calculate first a monthly breakdown, and then a daily and hourly cost of the consumer’s space heating.
The trial was undertaken in the month of December as one of the three ‘winter’ months, during which, the document claimed, households typically spent 81.56% of their annual energy spend (based on data from the Department of Energy and Climate Change). They multiplied the total spend for the one month of the trial by three to represent the full winter period, and on the assumption that this represented 81.56% of the household’s annual spend, they calculated the cost for the remainder of the year. They then compared the total yearly spends of both systems (based on the above assumptions and calculations); and then calculated that when compared to a gas central heating system, the CHS would save a consumer 93.10% on their annual energy spend.
The second piece of trial data compared the CHS with electric storage heaters. The trial report stated that the consumer reported that they used their heating for seven hours per day, with one hour of supplemental heating, totalling eight hours per day. The test was conducted over 83 days, nearly the full winter period and Logicor extrapolated that to the full 90-day winter period. Using the same calculations as above, the report concluded that the customer would make a 97.47% saving on their annual energy spend. They also incorporated the hourly cost of the consumer’s space heating.
We understood from the test reports that one consumer confirmed that they used their previous system for eight hours per day and that Logicor had assumed that the other had run their system for eight hours per day. However, Logicor also stated in subsequent correspondence that in both tests, the test participant had chosen to run the system for 24 hours and not for the same eight-hour period. We noted that the test did not contain any information about why the test participants chose to run the CHS for 24 hours.
We understood that Logicor believed they had to establish how much it would have cost the test participant to run their previous heating system, in order to compare the two systems to draw a meaningful comparison. They said they did this by calculating both consumers’ actual hourly spend on space heating and extrapolating that to the full 24-hour period. However, the report did not explain how a comparison of 24 hours’ use in both systems represented the actual or typical use of the previous system, particularly given that both reports stated an eight-hour daily usage.
We also noted that in both tests the consumers had rated their usage of their previous heating system as “adequate”. Although we understood from the additional information provided by Logicor that the 24-hour cost of running the previous system was calculated from the consumer’s actual space heating spend, we considered that this was not an accurate reflection of their actual usage. Further, we considered that both tests did not provide sufficient explanation or information about how the test was conducted, how the usages were sufficiently similar to provide a genuine cost comparison and the likely effect this would have had on the resultant savings claims.
Further, we acknowledged that the trials referred to higher savings in energy bills than the amount stated in ads (a) and (b) when the CHS was compared to both a gas central heating system and electric storage heaters. However, the two tests only looked at one customer each and we did not consider that this was a sufficiently large enough sample to represent wider consumer usage and experience, or that the data could therefore be extrapolated to the general savings claims in the ads. Therefore, we were not satisfied that the tests were sufficiently representative or that the basis of the comparisons was fair. We considered that the savings claims established were not genuine.
Logicor used the same two tests to substantiate the claims “Energy savings monitored in a typical 4 Bedroom Detached (Edwardian) Room Type: Living Room Occupants: 2 Adults … 92.13% vs Std Electric* 50.48% vs Std Gas*” in ad (b). We did not consider that the savings claim in relation to a gas central heating system could be substantiated, as the property featured in the test did not have four bedrooms. The test which looked at electric storage heaters was conducted on a property with four bedrooms. However, the test data did not specifically compare the energy used by the previous system and the CHS to heat the property’s living room. Logicor further explained that to heat the living room the CHS used 16.88% of the total kilowatts used by the system. They then calculated the savings claim for the test participant by comparing 16.88% of the predicted yearly spend on space heating with the electric storage heaters and when the CHS was used. They concluded that the saving available to the test participant was approximately 92.05%. As above, we considered that a test on a single four-bedroom property was not sufficient to represent the savings that would be available to the typical Edwardian detached four-bedroom property, and we were not satisfied that the methodology of the tests was robust, and therefore the evidence did not substantiate the savings claim made in ad (b).
Because we considered the testing methodology was unclear and because we did not consider that there was a sufficiently large enough sample to represent wider consumer usage and experience, we concluded that the savings claims in ads (a) and (b) were likely to mislead consumers about the type of savings they could make when compared to using gas heating systems and electric storage heaters.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation) and 3.33 3.33 Marketing communications that include a comparison with an identifiable competitor must not mislead, or be likely to mislead, the consumer about either the advertised product or the competing product. (Comparisons with identifiable competitors).
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Logicor (CH) Ltd to ensure they held sufficient evidence to support the savings claims made in their advertising.