• Action 9 investigates new home builder promising no power bills

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    POINCIANA, Fla. - They were promised a new home without power bills, but after buying the energy efficient house, a local family claims they're now facing thousands of dollars in electric bills.

    Action 9's Todd Ulrich found they're not the only ones asking about the builder's claims.

    Richard Branch bought a house in Poinciana that was sold as a home of the future. The builder said the home is so energy efficient, Branch would be able to say goodbye to power bills.

    “It was a selling point for me that there would be no light bill and money in my pocket,” Branch said.

    He signed a contract with Eco Home Company, but eight months after moving in, Branch said he felt deceived. 

    “I'm really upset because I feel I've been lied to,” he said. 

    His summer power bills totaled more than $250 each month, despite the home's solar panels and energy efficient appliances and lighting.

    “Yes, sir, all of these are supposed to be energy efficient,” said Branch as he pointed out his lighting fixtures.

    His solar system does sell back some energy to the power company, but he said it’s not enough.

    “Is that going to begin to cover your power bills?” Ulrich asked.  

    “No, sir,” Branch replied. 

    The Better Business Bureau gives Eco Home an F rating. The company has multiple complaints and the BBB posted a red flag about its no-electric-cost claim.

    “The company did not substantiate those claims or participate in the process. They failed to comply. They should be ready and willing and able to back up those claims,” said BBB President Holly Salmons.

    Ulrich went to the company's address in Orange County. He found Eco Home had moved out and Smart Build Capital had taken over some Eco homes and its warranty claims.

    “I've seen his power bills,” Ulrich said.  

    “I have, too,” the manager replied.  

    “How can you make that claim?” Ulrich asked. 

    “Someone will be glad to respond to you,” he replied.

    Later, Smart Build Capital managers blamed Eco Home for misrepresenting its no electric cost claims. And they said sale contracts disclosed that net zero energy homes greatly reduce usage but there are no guarantees.
                 
    “Yes sir, I definitely feel like I've been blind-sided,” Branch said.

    Ulrich contacted Eco Home several times, but the builder has not responded.
              
    Smart Build Capital managers said they can modify the solar power meter at the Branch's home and reduce his monthly power bills.

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