Scammers continue to use exaggerated R-value claims to peddle inferior insulation products, in spite of the existence of strong consumer protection laws. Year after year, naÃ¯ve builders fall prey to Web-based marketing pitches for “miracle” products like “insulating” paint and 1-inch-thick R-10 foam.
In the late 1970s, exaggerated claims by insulation marketers were so common that the U.S. Congress passed a consumer-protection law specifically addressing R-value scams. Although false marketing claims were already illegal, Congress concluded that R-value scams were so rampant and damaging to consumers that the industry needed targeted regulation.
Since 1979, the Federal R-Value Rule (16 CFR Part 460, “Trade Regulation Rule Concerning the Labeling and Advertising of Home Insulation”) has regulated how insulation manufacturers, distributors, and installers test, label, and market residential insulation products. Under the law, all claims concerning the R-value of residential insulation must be based on certain listed ASTM test procedures.
Unfortunately, the law is poorly enforced and widely ignored. It takes only a few minutes for any Web surfer to find blatant violations of the R-Value Rule.
A few product categories — foil-faced bubble wrap and “insulating” paint, for example — seem to attract scam artists like moths to a flame. Another product favored by flim-flam artists is a foil-faced expanded polystyrene (EPS) product called P2000. This insulating board is manufactured by Polar Industries in Prospect, Connecticut, under a contract with a Canadian building-products manufacturer, RR&D Enterprises of Rivière-Beaudette, Quebec.
Distributors of P2000 often claim that their EPS foam has an impossibly high R-value. Such claims have led several consumer protection agencies to issue warnings to builders. For example, the Nebraska Energy Office issued an alert warning builders about P2000, “a foil-faced polystyrene insulation whose marketers are making claims of an R-Value of 27 or 28 per inch. … It was determined…