October 4 2021: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has told gas supplier Firmus Energy it must have evidence of claims it makes in any of its adverts.
The censure comes after the body representing the liquid fuel industry in the UK and Ireland lodged a complaint with the ASA over claims Firmus made in an advertisement that households who switch to natural gas from home heating oil emit 48% less Carbon Dioxide (CO2).
The advert also contained a graphic which stated: “48% less carbon emissions than oil”. OFTEC proved, using Government-approved data, that the difference is only 29.5% and not 48% as claimed by Firmus.
Upon investigation by the ASA, it became apparent that Firmus had not used a like-for-like comparison between oil and gas but had compared a modern gas boiler with an old, inefficient oil boiler.
The Advertising Standards Authority said this information should have been made clearer in the advert and has reminded Firmus of the need to ensure they hold evidence for any claims they make.
Firmus has now agreed to remove the claim and has undertaken to seek copy advice on future claims they make with the Committee of Advertising Practise (CAP). The sister organisation of the ASA is responsible for writing and maintaining the Advertising Codes.
As Firmus agreed to withdraw the inaccurate advertising, the matter did not require a formal investigation.
OFTEC Ireland Manager, David Blevings said: “We feel vindicated in taking this course of action and won’t hesitate to do so in the future if faced by erroneous claims in advertisements.
“Consumers are entitled to fair and accurate data when researching fuel types and should not be heavily influenced by misleading and factually inaccurate advertising.
“We believe it’s in the best interests of consumers and the industry that all energy companies behave responsibly and are brought to account when they do not.
“The liquid fuel industry is working hard to reduce emissions from the sector and as part of the new Energy Strategy for Northern Ireland we have proposed that Government endorses a wholesale switch from kerosene to hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO).
“This product, which is made from waste, reduces carbon emissions from a liquid fuel boiler by 88% with immediate effect, requires minimal adaptations to existing equipment and has less emissions than both natural gas and electricity.”
For confirmation that OFTEC’s complaint has been informally resolved (not requiring formal investigation) visit https://www.asa.org.uk/codes-and-rulings/rulings.html#informally-resolved
For more information on OFTEC, visit https://www.oftec.org/