Residents at Discovery Gardens say their airconditioning bills have gone up significantly in the summer months this year. Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

Dubai: Residents of Discovery Gardens say their AC bills have risen significantly in the last few months despite their best efforts to minimise usage.

Some claimed they were being over-charged, with their Empower bills almost doubling from their previous monthly bills.

Empower bills are separate to electricity and water bills that are issued monthly by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa).

Jinal Sudeep, from India, who lives in a studio apartment with her husband, said her Empower bill for September was Dh600, despite them using the AC only at night.

“Our usual bill for the studio is between Dh300-350. In August, it went up to Dh450 and in September it reached Dh600, despite both me and my husband being at work all day with our AC switched off,” she said.

Sudeep pointed out they switch on their AC from around 10:30pm to 8am daily, and have been consciously trying to curb usage by keep the AC off in the daytime.

“With the Empower system, even if you don’t use the AC you have to pay a monthly bill. We don’t get the option of not using our AC at all because we still get charged. Our usage charges are usually around Dh100 and the rest includes service charges and meter readings,” she explained.

After receiving her bill in September, Sudeep said she requested Empower to recheck her meter for errors. She was charged Dh150 for the meter-reading visit.

A comment from Empower was not available despite several requests sent over several days.

Aileen Lee from the Philippines who moved to Discovery Gardens four years ago, said her AC bills have increased significantly this year “The AC bills have always been high, however these few months it has been unacceptable. For a one-bedroom apartment we are usually charged Dh600. Last month [September] we were charged Dh1,989 and in August, we were charged around Dh1,200,” she said.

Just like her neighbours, Lee said her family has been careful about their AC usage and only keep the chiller on during the night.

“I have even given my nanny strict instructions all summer about switching the AC on only when it’s necessary. We were definitely shocked when we received the bill,” said Lee.

Filipina expat Ethel Arcega said she has never received an AC bill as high as last month since she moved to Discovery Gardens around four years ago. “I usually pay between Dh600-700 a month for AC and I live in a one-bedroom unit. This August, the bill went up to Dh800 and then to over Dh1,000 in September,” she said.

Arcega, who lives with her cousin, said many of her neighbours in the community had complained about a significant increase in chiller bills on social media in the past few months.

“When I saw so many complaints on Facebook, I realised this wasn’t an issue with my meter, so I didn’t have someone come down for a meter reading,” said Arcega.

Emirates Central Cooling Systems Corporation (Empower) was established in 2003 with an objective to enable the real estate sector to efficiently utilise energy resources through district cooling services (DCS).