A page on the website, www.vphase.co.uk, for a voltage optimisation device, was headed "What Savings Could I Make?". Text underneath stated "... In the UK our voltages have historically been higher and whilst actual levels will vary during the day they typically average at around 245V. The majority of appliances operate more efficiently at lower voltage (but still within the European statutory range). Voltage Optimisation is the control of voltage supplied to appliances to a set level (usually 220V)". The ad then listed the energy savings that could be made if the product was installed; including a 17% energy saving for an 'A' rated freezer.
The complainant challenged whether the claims were misleading, because he believed that appliances with motors and pumps would operate at a lower power, but for a longer period of time to achieve the control setting, and there would therefore not be any energy saving.
VPhase Smart Energy Ltd (VPhase) accepted that using the product with thermostatically controlled heating devices would not provide an energy saving for the reasons outlined by the complainant. However, they pointed out that both their website and the product's installation instructions explained that point and stated clearly that those devices should not be wired through the voltage optimiser, for that reason. They said that did not apply to many other motor and pump-driven devices, which operated in a very different fashion to heating devices. They explained that in order to be CE marked, appliances must be able to function correctly within the European harmonised supply voltage range of 207V to 253V and that, in practice, this meant any appliance would perform its stated function at 207V and that at voltages above 207V the appliance would continue to perform its stated function but with energy being lost in the form of heat. They said that, whilst that was not a problem in the case of heating devices, where the desired outcome was heat, excess heat would be particularly problematic for motor-driven cooling devices where the desired outcome was cooling. They submitted an independent test report which showed that energy savings had been made when such appliances were wired through the product, and that set temperatures within the appliances were maintained. They said that if the complainant was correct, the controls on the individual appliances would compensate for the reduced voltage and that no energy saving would have been observed.
The ASA accepted the product would not offer energy savings in respect of thermostatically controlled heating devices, where the aim of the device was to generate heat, but we noted that VPhase referred to 'the majority of appliances' operating more efficiently at a lower voltage and that they explicitly stated that the product should not be used with thermostatically-controlled heating devices. Because the independent test report submitted by VPhase showed an energy saving when the product was used with other motor and pump-driven appliances, we concluded that the ad was not misleading.
We investigated the ad under 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 11.1 11.1 The basis of environmental claims must be clear. Unqualified claims could mislead if they omit significant information. (Environmental claims) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.