PSI: Air conditioner seemingly shuts off on its own

By Jamie Boll - bio l email
Produced by Jeff Keene - email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Late afternoons, just as August temperatures would reach their sizzling pinnacle, Randy Cernohorsky's air conditioner would just shut off.

It didn't take long for his Victorian home in 4th Ward Center City Charlotte to steam up.

"It was miserable in here," said Cernohorsky whose home doubles as his office.

His thermostat only goes up to 84 degrees.  The needle was often pegged.

"I thought what's going on," said Cernohorsky.  "I thought the compressor must of died, or something."

His air conditioner was not on the blink and then he realized it was only shutting off in the afternoon.

"I started timing it," said Cernohorsky.  "It was on ten (minutes), off twenty, on ten off twenty."

It all goes back to a vacation Cernohorski took six weeks ago.  He came home and found a Duke Energy notice hanging from his front door.

The notice said the power company had put his house into one of it's energy saving programs. A program Cernohorsky never signed up for.

"They said it was a mistake, to ignore the door hanger," said Cernohorsky.

He was told he was not an active member of the program.

"I said it's not a mistake, there's actually a device attached to the side of my house," said Cernohorsky.

The device is a box located just above his air conditioning unit.  It's wired to a control room, where Duke Energy could cycle the air conditioning off during peak usage time.  Cernohorsky didn't worry much about it until the summer heat kicked in.

He started calling weeks ago to get it removed.  He was told he had two options, wait about a month, or hire someone on his own to remove it.

"If I wanted it disconnected sooner," said Cernohorsky.  "I could at my own expense."

WBTV contacted Duke Energy to find out what had happened.

"It was our error," said Duke Energy spokesperson Paige Layne.  "We do apologize to the customer."

Layne said a previous owner of Cernohorsky's house was part of an old energy saving program.

A program now being morphed into a new one called Power Manager which requires new equipment to be installed.

Letters went out to customers telling them of the changes, but Cernohorsky never got one because he wasn't an active member of the program.  Layne says somehow Cernohorsky's address got on a work order.

"We are still looking at how that account got transferred to the incorrect list," said Layne.  "But we are very pleased we were able to get that device off the customer's home."

It was gone, just six hours after WBTV first interviewed Cernohorsky.  His home was again comfortably cool.

"Just thrilled it's not attached anymore," said Cernohorsky.

The Power Manager Program works well for people who aren't home during the day.  It will cycle off your air conditioner off from time-to-time during peak energy times. Customers in the program get a $32 credit.

175,000 people in the Carolinas have signed up for Duke's Power Manager program.

Randy just wasn't one of them.

Copyright 2010 WBTV. All rights reserved.