Family shocked by high energy bill; Duke Energy says cold weather could be to blame

ASHEBORO, N.C. -- Living alone, 80-year-old Shirley Suggs says she does what she can to save on energy at her Asheboro home.

“I don’t cook much, I heat something up in the microwave if my children bring me food. I don’t wash clothes very much,” Suggs said.

She noticed her bill climbing in the past few months from her normal $100 charge, but said January's bill skyrocketed.

“It’s $475. That’s outrageous,” her son Mickey said.

Suggs had received a similarly high bill in February 2018. Since that time, her family explained they'd spent hundreds of dollars to make the home more efficient.

Mickey said they replaced the heating and air system and had the ducts cleaned out. He said they also replaced Suggs' water heater and appliances.

“She decided she would get a new washer or dryer, energy efficient. Stove, microwave, all that kind of stuff, changed the light bulbs in the house,” he said. “I don’t know what else you could do to a home to make it more energy efficient.”

Duke Energy spokesperson Jeff Brooks said Tuesday that the company is sending someone to test Suggs' meter, but says they believe the reading is accurate.

“It’s unfortunate that the bill is high this month, but it does appear to be accurate and it’s reflective of a very cold last few weeks with record cold that we had many days. It just looks like a high seasonal bill in this instance,” he said.

Suggs said she planned to pay the bill, but that it would set her back for her other expenses due to her fixed income.

“I’m going to pay it, but I’m not going to have money for food or medicine,” she said.

Brooks suggested homeowners do an energy audit to find out why their usage spikes or switching to an equal payment plan.

He said customers should compare year to year, rather than looking at changes month to month.

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