The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled “Energy Watchdog Ltd” – a Merseyside-based heating systems business must not “claim or imply” it is regulator or consumer champion for the energy industry.

A complaint was submitted to the ASA about Energy Watchdog’s website, seen on 3 August last year, which featured a logo including the text “Energy Watchdog” at the top of each web page.

The ASA investigated three issues raised by the complainant, which also challenged whether the ad “misleadingly implied” hot water would be free because there was a cost to purchase a “PV hot water system” and the savings claims made by the website.

Energy Watchdog did not respond to the enquiries and the ASA said it was “concerned” by the company’s lack of response and “apparent disregard” for the advertising code.

The ruling published today (20 February) by the ASA said: “We considered that in the context of the website, which described various types of renewable energy and energy saving technologies for households, consumers would understand the name ‘Energy Watchdog’ to mean that the company was either a form of regulator, or that it was a consumer champion working within the energy sector.

“Because Energy Watchdog was in fact a commercial business that sold heating systems, we concluded that the ad was misleading.”

The advertising regulator has warned that the “ad must not appear again in its current form”.

“We told Energy Watchdog Ltd not to claim or imply that they were a ‘watchdog’, including implying that they were a regulator or consumer champion for the energy industry,” the ASA said.

It added: “We also told them not to make claims that purchasing their products would result in free hot water, or to make savings claims that they could not substantiate. We referred the matter to the CAP Compliance team.”

The compliance team ensures the outcome of “upheld” ASA rulings are adhered to by all advertisers who may be affected.

Energy Watchdog Ltd was contacted for comment but no response had been received at the time of publication.