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AC does it: Cooling bill raises heat

DUBAI: Air conditioning bills are usually directly proportional to the weather. As the mercury comes down, one would expect the cooling bills to come down too. But in The Gardens the opposite happened.

From Dh662 in November 2011, Briton Nahraan Suzy Dillon's bills jumped to Dh1,449 in nippy December when temperatures in Dubai were hovering around 16 degrees Celsius.

Horrified by the 118 per cent increase, Dillon has joined a chorus of Dubai residents fuming over the ‘obscure calculation' of the cooling charges.

Dillon, who lives in a three-bedroom apartment in The Gardens, also owns a one-bedroom unit in Discovery Gardens.

Here too the cooling charges spiked sharply. She was billed a total of Dh3,771.68 for nine months from January 1, 2010 to September 30, 2010 - an average of Dh419 per month. But for the same period the following year, she was billed Dh6,379 - or about Dh530 per month.

"The pro-rata hike in charges is around 70 per cent. These bills are for the winter months when practically there has been no use of air-conditioners. I live alone and have a full-time job, there is absolutely no reason for such high increase in bills," she said.

Residents in other communities are also losing their cool over steep district cooling rates.

Mohammad Metwally, Chairman, Interim Owners Association (IOA) at Al Seef Tower 2 in Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT), said: "For our building, we have seen a 50 per cent increase in cooling charges in 2011 compared to 2010. We are still finalising the audit for last year, but I can say that we have incurred an operating loss due to this massive hike."

He said additional capacity charges have increased the burden for district cooling consumers.

He called for the government to regulate the industry to protect consumers. "We need a regulatory body to monitor rates [charged] on customers. The body must review and approve contracts to ensure a balance between utility companies and consumers' interests."

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