Originally Published by Consumers Energy.
With winter making an early arrival this year, Consumers Energy is reaching out to families and small businesses to help them take charge of their heating bills.
Consumers Energy is sharing information with customers this month about how to reduce energy use and find available assistance in their communities to help with bills. Cold weather often leads to higher heating costs as furnaces work to warm homes and businesses. Electric use can increase in winter, too, as electricity powers furnaces or is used to heat many homes.
“We want to help the people we serve to stay in control of their energy costs. Households and businesses can take steps to keep bills down while staying safe and warm during a Michigan winter,” said Brian Rich, Consumers Energy’s senior vice president of customer experience.
Consumers Energy is sending emails to hundreds of thousands of customers this week with tips to reduce energy use safely during cold weather. The energy provider and nonprofit agencies each winter also make proactive phone calls to households who are past due on payments, letting people know help is available now.
Last month, Consumers Energy contributed $2 million to help up to 2,500 Michigan households participate in its CARE program. CARE puts people in need on a path to self sufficiency, offering bill credits, forgiveness of past-due balances and access to energy-saving tools that can lower bills.
Consumers Energy encourages people to dial 2-1-1, a free statewide service that connects people with resources in their community. The 2-1-1 helpline and website refer people to resources in their community, including energy bill assistance.
“Our natural gas costs remain 60 percent lower than a decade ago, but we know that many people still face challenges to pay their heating bills,” Rich said. “Consumers Energy wants to help. We strongly encourage people to take action today if they want to reduce their energy costs or need help to stay warm.”
Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest energy provider, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and/or electricity to 6.7 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
Cold weather tips
LOOK AT THERMOSTAT SETTINGS: Save energy while staying warm by setting your heat to a lower temperature. Use your programmable thermostat to set your heat at 68 degrees when you are home and 65 degrees when you are away for less than 5 hours. If you’re going to be away for more than five hours set the thermostat to 58 degrees.
MAINTAIN YOUR FURNACE: Have a professional inspect your furnace every year to be certain it is running as efficiently as possible. Also, change your furnace filter regularly.
SEAL WINDOWS AND DOORS: Check for leaks in your windows and doors by feeling around for cool air. Caulk, fill, or weather strip if necessary. Repair or replace any broken windows or doors.