‘That is not fair’: Homeowner blames new AC for $1,500 power bill

ORLANDO, Fla. — An Orange County woman contacted Action 9 after she got a $1,500 power bill she says was caused by her new air conditioner.

“I felt like I had been punched in the gut,” Maria Drake said.

Drake says she got the shock of her life when she opened her June power bill from Duke Energy for $1,500. She says her monthly bill usually averages $140. Then in July, she got a $900 bill.

“The stress that I have been under, how are we going to pay this?” Drake asked.

She called the power company to dispute the charges.

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“Based on the size of this home, a $1500 energy bill would be considered highly unusual,” said Ana Gibbs with Duke Energy.

She said they changed out Maria’s meter with a new one as a courtesy, but that wasn’t the issue.

“We had no reason to believe that there was anything wrong with the Duke Energy meter,” Gibbs said.

Action 9 spoke with AC experts who said 60% to 70% of power bill charges come from running the air conditioner, and that’s the first place to look for the cause of outrageous power charges.

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Drake paid America Fresh Air and Heat $8,000 for her unit last September and said that since then, the thermostat has been replaced three times and it’s been one problem after another. She blames the AC unit for her sky-high power bills.

“That would be the only explanation because it is going non-stop,” Drake said.

According to Drake, company owner Richard Cudjoe went to her home and repaired wires in the outside unit that were causing the excessive power consumption. She asked America Fresh Air to help pay for the excessive utility charges.

“Richard said no, that that was not his responsibility,” Drake said.

Todd Ulrich contacted America Fresh Air and Heat and the company owner said he couldn’t discuss the matter.

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Drake blames the unit for over $2,500 in power charges and has had to go on a payment plan to keep the lights on.

“That is not fair that this should be happening to us or to anybody,” Drake said.

If you notice a higher than usual power bill, try turning the suspected appliance off and check for any changes to the meter that could help you pinpoint the problem.

Duke Energy encourages consumers struggling to pay their utility bills, to dial 211 or visit 211.org online for assistance.

Todd Ulrich

Todd Ulrich, WFTV.com

I am WFTV's Action 9 Reporter.