Lifesaving Tips to Protect Against Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Posted on October 20, 2014. Filed under: Community, Company Operations, Consumers, Education, electric, Electric Safety, Electricity, energy, How to, month, Natural Gas Safety, reliability, Safety, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Keeping furnace vents clear of debris will help to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Keeping furnace vents clear of debris will help to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

The crisp, cool air and the brightly-colored leaves are among the first signs that fall is coming. They’re also one of the first signals as families start up their furnaces across Michigan. While the heat is necessary to keep your homes cozy during the cold months, it’s an especially important time to protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Governor Rick Snyder has declared this week Carbon Monoxide Safety and Awareness Week in Michigan. This declaration serves as a reminder for residents to take preventative measures and learn to recognize the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The Silent Killer

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas that’s odorless, colorless and tasteless and is produced when common household appliances aren’t properly ventilated. Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur from appliances like:

  • Furnaces
  • Fireplaces
  • Wood Stoves
  • Charcoal grills
  • Kerosene heaters
  • Gasoline-powered generators
  • Vehicles


Know the Signs

Infants, the elderly, people with respiratory problems and pets are especially at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. When the deadly gas is breathed into the body, it is combined with the blood, preventing it from absorbing oxygen. Warning signs of a CO leak include:

  • Stale/stuffy air
  • Excessive moisture on windows and walls
  • Soot buildup around appliance vents

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning often mimic the flu and include headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath and burning of the eyes. Prolonged exposure can cause disorientation, convulsions, unconsciousness and eventually death.


9 Tips to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

There are many different ways CO can cause poisoning, even uncommonly through blocked vehicle tailpipes and unventilated trailers. You can protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning with these tips:

  1. Install an Underwriters Laboratory (UL) approved CO detector with a powerful audible alarm. The best models plug into a standard electrical outlet and have important features like a rechargeable battery backup in case of a power outage.
  2. Make sure fuel-burning appliances are properly installed and have them maintained regularly.
  3. Visually inspect flues and chimneys on an annual basis to keep them clean of debris.
  4. Repair rusted or pitted flue pipes leading from your furnace and water heater to the chimney.
  5. Keep the furnace air intake clear and unobstructed.
  6. Never use a gas range or unvented space heaters (propane, gas, oil or kerosene) to heat a home or building.
  7. Never run a vehicle in the garage, even with the garage door open.
  8. Start lawn mowers and snow blowers outside, not inside the garage.
  9. Never use a portable generator or barbecue grill inside your home or on an enclosed porch or garage.

If you suspect CO poisoning in your home:

  • Get everyone (pets included) out of the house and into fresh air
  • Call 911 for immediate medical help
  • Do not re-enter the house under any circumstance until help has arrived, your house has been investigated and the problem is corrected
  • Call a qualified contractor or your gas utility to have your appliances checked
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Behind-the-Scenes of a Consumers Energy Employee; Careers in Energy Week

Posted on October 16, 2014. Filed under: Company Operations, Consumers, Economic Development, Economy, Education, electric, Electric Generation, Electric Safety, Electricity, employee, energy, Energy Efficiency, Environment, Events, Natural Gas Safety, reliability, Renewable Energy, Safety, sustainability | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Although we’re rounding out the end of Careers in Energy Week, Consumers Energy wants to keep public awareness about energy-related jobs alive well after the statewide celebration. We plan to continue recruiting top Michigan talent for rewarding careers in energy.

Consumers Energy is pleased to work with DTE Energy and the Michigan Energy Workforce Development Consortium during this celebration to raise awareness for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.

To hear about job openings, follow Consumers Energy on LinkedIn!

A Day in the Life of a Consumers Energy Employee

From lineworkers to power plant operators, customer service representatives to accountants and technicians to engineers, there are a variety of careers Consumers Energy offers throughout the state of Michigan. Check out a few behind-the-scenes videos from Consumers Energy employees:

1. System Controller


2. Senior Project Manager


3. Lineworker Trainer


4. Electric Field Leader


5. Dispatcher


Check out current job openings at Consumers Energy!

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9 Tips to Winter Weatherproof Your Michigan Home

Posted on October 1, 2014. Filed under: bill, Community, Consumers, Education, electric, Electric Safety, Electricity, energy, Energy Efficiency, How to, month, Natural Gas Safety, Safety, storm, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

It’s easy to be swept away with the fun of October. Pumpkin patches, apple cider, hayrides and who could forget trick-or-treating! But one of the most important events every homeowner should focus on during the month of October is winter weatherization.

Try our free Home Energy Analyzer to find ways to stay warmer and spend less money on heating this winter.

Michigan Winter Checklist for Your Home

Consumers Energy is preparing for the upcoming cold months, and you should too! Check these winter weatherization tips off your list before the first snowfall:

  1. Replace Furnace Filter

A dirty furnace filter restricts airflow, making your fan motor work harder and your energy bill rise rapidly. Dirty furnace filters also reduce the air quality in your home, aggravating allergies and asthma for your family. Choose a furnace filter that provides a balance of particle capture and airflow to prevent stress on the system. This will reduce the amount of energy needed to reach desired temperatures during the winter.

  1. Test Run Your Heater

Testing your heater before the winter months can help save you both money and unnecessary shivers. Set your heater for 80 degrees and check all the vents in your home. This is also a great opportunity to move any obstacles blocking your heating vents. Make sure to turn off the heat directly after the test run. If your heater isn’t running properly, contact a qualified service technician before temperatures begin to drop. Consumers Energy offers rebates up to $900 for natural gas furnaces.

  1. Install a Programmable Thermostat

A programmable thermostat lets you automatically turn your heat up before you get out of bed, down when you leave for work, up before you return from work and then down again before bedtime. Installing one before the heating season could also save you as much as 20 percent on your heating costs. Consumers Energy offers $10-$50 rebates for programmable thermostats.

Consumers Energy also offers a variety of Home Energy Saving Programs and Rebates.

  1. Reset Your Ceiling Fan

Set your ceiling fan to spin on the low setting in reverse (clockwise). This will re-circulate warmer air that may be trapped near the ceiling down to floor level.

  1. Clean Out Your Chimney

Who can resist a warm fireplace during the winter? Before use, make sure it’s clear of bird or animal nests and soot. Have it swept and checked for damage or cracks. Unknown damage could be a huge fire hazard for your home.

  1. Check for Carbon Monoxide Leaks

Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that is colorless, odorless and tasteless and can be produced when appliances aren’t operating or venting properly. It’s important to protect your family from the silent killer, especially during the winter months. Easily check for leaks by installing a carbon monoxide alarm that can be plugged in year-round. If you already have one and it’s past the warranty, replace it!

  1. Prep Your Windows

Check for leaks in your windows by feeling around for cool air during a chilly, fall day. Caulk or fill if necessary. If your home’s windows simply need an upgrade, there’s no better time to switch to high performance windows. Double-pane or triple-pane works the best. You can also use clear plastic or vinyl sheeting on the inside of your windows to make a temporary double-pane window. Consumers Energy offers rebates on windows and insulation.

  1. Check Your Doors

Just like windows, your doors can let in cold air if there are leaks. Check for weather-stripping on the side and bottoms and replace it if you feel cold air slipping through.

  1. Pack Emergency Supplies

Dangerous winter weather may happen without much notice—but that doesn’t mean your family can’t be prepared. Watch Consumers Energy’s video below to see what your family should be packing:

Click here for 100 Ways to Save on Your Energy Bill

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Consumers Energy Encourages Families to Celebrate National Preparedness Month

Posted on September 29, 2014. Filed under: bill, Business, Community, Consumers, Corporate Giving, Education, energy, payment, Payment Assistance, Safety, storm, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

When life happens, it’s good to have an action plan. September is National Preparedness Month, a time to reflect on the “what ifs” and anything that may come your way in the future. Consumers Energy supports many assistance programs and resources to help Michigan residents during times of need.

Check out Consumers Energy Payment Assistance Programs

Expect the Unexpected

National Preparedness Month is the perfect opportunity to prepare your family for the unexpected. Check out a few resources below to get started:

This free, confidential service is available 24/7 to 8.1 million Michigan residents. The service connects you with local organizations that offer a variety of different sources of help for food, housing, employment, healthcare, counseling, transportation and more.

How It Works: Call 2-1-1 to automatically reach a professional, certified specialist to answer your questions.

The Ready Campaign is used to educate and empower Americans to prepare for natural or man-made emergencies. Supported by FEMA, it specifically focuses on preparedness for homes, communities and businesses and encourages the importance of having a communications plan:

Communications Plan for Children

Communications Plan for Parents

  • Safety Apps

Consumers Energy employees researched the top safety apps to download on Android and Apple devices. Keep your family prepared with:

Download these free safety apps to keep your family and home prepared for any emergency.

Click to enlarge

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How Consumers Energy Distributes Electricity to Your Home, Business

Posted on September 17, 2014. Filed under: Community, Company Operations, Consumers, Education, electric, Electric Safety, Electricity, energy, reliability, Safety, storm | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

You’re driving down the road. You see passing cars, businesses, a few houses and maybe even a farm field. But did you notice the utility poles and power lines? Although we’re so used to seeing them that they often blend in, utility poles and power lines are significant to the final stage in the delivery of electric power. Think of them as the strong, silent type.

From the ways Consumers Energy generates electricity to the basics of electric transmission to its final distribution process, each phase plays a key role in reliable service for our customers.

How Does Electric Distribution Work?

Electric transmission converts to distribution in the power substation that serves your home or small business. Electricity is:

  1. Removed from the transmission system
  2. Passed through step-down transformers which lower voltage near the final destination
  3. Transferred onto smaller cables which lead to the customer

If the electricity is for a residential customer, voltage is then lowered by smaller transformers on poles or underground before connecting to your home.

Whether a wire is sagging or downed, stay at least 25 feet away.

Whether a wire is sagging or downed, stay at least 25 feet away.

Stay Away Stay Alive

If you see a downed power line, remember the rule—Stay Away and Stay Alive. Even though a broken wire on the ground isn’t sparking, it can still be “live” with a deadly amount of electricity. Take these safety precautions if you spot a downed power line:

  • Keep people and pets 25 feet away
  • Be careful not to come in contact with anything the wire is touching, especially standing water, metal objects and even tree limbs
  • Do not try to move a wire if it’s crossing a road or driveway
  • Contact Consumers Energy toll-free at 1-800-477-5050 or your local law enforcement agency to report the downed power line immediately

Click here for more safety tips

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Consumers Energy Prepares for Severe Weather in Michigan, Includes Storm Prep Tips

Posted on September 9, 2014. Filed under: Community, Company Operations, Consumers, electric, Electric Safety, employee, energy, reliability, Safety, storm, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

When multiple storms hit Michigan, our employees come together to ensure a timely restoration process for our customers. This includes taking all appropriate safety steps to turn your power back on safely. Consumers Energy employees are equipping for Wednesday’s storm so we can respond quickly and efficiently.

10 Tips to Prepare for Severe Weather

You can get ready for the next severe storm right from your own home. Prep your family for upcoming storms with these 10 tips:

  1. Have a three-day supply of water, non-perishable food and medication available for all members of your household including pets.
  2. Keep flashlights, a portable radio and extra batteries handy.
  3. Have first aid kits for your home and car.
  4. Develop a plan so you can stay in touch with your family in a disaster. Be sure each family member has a copy of your communication plan.
  5. Have your home’s furnace checked by a professional to make sure it is in safe working order.
  6. Install a carbon monoxide alarm on each level of your home. If you already have a carbon monoxide alarm, change or test the batteries regularly.
  7. When installing a generator, make sure it’s connected by a licensed electrician for the safety of utility crews and first responders.
  8. If the power does go out, avoid traveling through hazardous areas and always stay at least 25 feet away from downed power lines and anything a downed wire might be touching.
  9. You can report all downed power lines and safety hazards to Consumers Energy and your local 911 center.
  10. Check out the Consumers Energy outage map to report an outage and check for restoration updates at

How do we restore power?

After a storm, Consumers Energy crews work swiftly to protect the public and restore service to our customers. We decide who to restore first based on:

  • Public safety

Our crews are first sent to areas of safety concerns such as downed wires and also to restoring service to emergency response departments and hospitals.

  • Consumers Energy substations and circuits

Our crews repair substations and circuits, which impact large areas and will restore service to the largest number of customers

  • Individual Neighborhoods

Our crews are sent to individual neighborhoods to complete repairs for smaller numbers of customers

 If anyone in your family depends on electric powered life-support equipment, prescribed by a doctor,

please visit the American Red Cross Identification Program for additional help.

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Consumers Energy Connects Michigan Students with New EmPOWERed Kids Smartphone App

Posted on September 5, 2014. Filed under: Community, Company Operations, Consumers, Education, electric, Electric Generation, Electric Safety, energy, Environment, Natural Gas, Natural Gas Safety, Renewable Energy, Safety, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

The EmPOWERed Kids program features safety presentations for Michigan classrooms.

The EmPOWERed Kids program features safety presentations for Michigan classrooms.




Tis the season for freshly sharpened pencils and brand new folders. That’s right—September is back-to-school month in Michigan. As parents are preparing lunches and students are filling school buses, Consumers Energy launches its new smartphone app and classroom program called EmPOWERed Kids. The new technology provides Michigan students, teachers and parents with an engaging way to learn about energy.

Students enjoy the fun learning experience created by the EmPOWERed Kids program

Students enjoy the fun learning experience created by the EmPOWERed Kids program




EmPOWERed Kids Across Michigan

Every year, Consumers Energy teams up with Michigan schools to deliver important lessons about electricity and natural gas, renewable energy and safety. Not only are we committed to energy lessons in the classroom with the EmPOWERed Kids program, but parents may also download the free app at home for continued learning.

The EmPOWERed Kids app is available for most smartphone devices and tablets including iPads. Search “EmPOWERed Kids” in the App or Play Store to download now. Our engaging app teaches kids about:

  • How electricity is made from coal, wind, water and even cow manure
  • How to recognize danger signs involving electricity and natural gas
  • What natural gas smells like and what to do to stay safe

For more information, teachers and parents can read

Consumers Energy’s education newsletter!

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Consumers Energy offers 6 Safety Tips to Protect Your Children

Posted on September 2, 2014. Filed under: Consumers, Education, electric, Electric Safety, Electricity, energy, Natural Gas, Safety, storm, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Being a parent is one of the most rewarding jobs you can have. From the belly to the beginning of college, we understand the importance of teaching safe lifestyles to shape your children’s futures. Consumers Energy wants to celebrate National Baby Safety Month with helpful safety tips to protect your child at home.

Consumers Energy Knows Family

Our company is a huge proponent of family, especially when it comes to safety. From our family to yours, check out six safety tips to protect your children:

  1. Keep Climbable Furniture Away from Windows

As the September air becomes crisp, your family can save money on your energy bill by opening windows at night to cool your home. However, window screens will not prevent a fall from happening. Be sure to block any open windows so children cannot access them. You may also look into hiring a professional to properly install window guards.

  1. Install Outlet Covers and Cord Shorteners

Prevent small children from touching electrical outlets by installing outlet covers in your home. Cord shorteners will also eliminate the possibility of your children pulling on electrical cords. If any cords look damaged or are frayed, be sure to stop using them immediately.

  1. Unplug and Store Electric Appliances

When finished with appliances like curling irons, hair dryers, flat irons and electric razors make sure to unplug them and store them in an area children cannot access. This will prevent burns or other injuries from occurring.

  1. Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector

If your home uses gas heat, it is especially important to install a carbon monoxide detector to protect your entire family from poisoning. Learn more on how to prevent carbon monoxide.

  1. Have a Chemical Fire Extinguisher

In the case of an electrical fire, it’s important not to use water to extinguish it. Since water conducts electricity, using it will cause a fire to become larger. Have a chemical fire extinguisher handy to get rid of an electrical fire properly. If the fire is becoming too dangerous to put out, leave your home immediately and call the fire department.

  1. Prep Before a Storm

Below is a helpful guide for your entire family before a storm. Be sure to add baby food, a diaper bag and any medications your children may need. Check out additional information on the American Red Cross Identification Program for anyone in your family that depends on electric powered life-support equipment, prescribed by a doctor.

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Always On: A Day in the Life of a Consumers Energy Electric Construction Field Leader

Posted on August 27, 2014. Filed under: Company Operations, Consumers, electric, Electric Generation, Electric Safety, Electricity, employee, energy, In Your Community Q&A, reliability, Safety, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Darrell Browning, a Consumers Energy Electric Construction Field Leader, doesn’t go to work for the money and status. It’s his commitment to serving others, problem solving and helping people reach their full potential that drives Browning to work hard every day.

Browning’s Background

Darrell Browning’s life purpose wasn’t always this clear. Growing up just outside of Detroit in the inner city of Mount Clemens, Mich., he was the youngest in a household of eight with one income. Although financially times were tough, his parents always made sure their family had what they needed to get by.

Browning also struggled with insecurities that prevented him from fitting in with other kids in school. Because his family couldn’t afford braces, Browning grew up with a negative self-image, resisting speaking up or even smiling. He also battled attention deficit disorder (ADD), which at the time wasn’t recognized as a disorder. His lack of attention span led to poor academics and increased discipline from those around him.

It wasn’t until adulthood that Browning’s mindset changed. He learned he had no control over the life he’d been given and if he didn’t become confident and accept who he was, he’d never reach his full potential and discover his purpose in life.

Check out a behind-the-scenes look at a Consumers Energy Lineworker Trainer!

Advice from Darrell Browning

Browning wants to encourage others to let go of their past and know everything they’ve gone through was meant to shape them into the people they are today. His tips include:

  • Understand it’s okay to be different—we’re all different
  • Stop comparing yourself to others
  • Surround yourself with people who help you grow
  • Accept challenges
  • Focus on developing yourself at your own pace and learning style
  • Seek out your strengths and build on them

Working for Consumers Energy, Browning has been able to exercise his personal values by treating people with the utmost respect. He demonstrates commitment, honesty and integrity to defuse any conflict for effective communication. Browning’s leadership increases the reliability of a job well done at Consumers Energy and we’re proud he shared his experiences.

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Always On: Day in the Life of a Consumers Energy Lineworker Trainer in Michigan

Posted on August 12, 2014. Filed under: Company Operations, Education, electric, Electric Safety, Electricity, employee, reliability, Renewable Energy, Safety | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

José Rivera Fuertes Jr. is a Consumers Energy Electric Employee Development Consultant who trains entry-level apprentices, journeymen lineworkers and lineworkers-in-charge at the Marshall Training Center. Fuertes teaches the necessary skills needed to perform efficient electrical work like splicing cables and fixing transformers in the safest possible way.

Marshall Training Center: The Stats

Consumers Energy’s Marshall Training Center was rebuilt in 2008 and includes:

  • 5 acres of land which contains poles, electric lines and transmission systems for training
  • A main building with six large classrooms and three labs
  • An indoor training area with 23 training poles and an underground substation vault
  • A renewable energy center
  • Two wind turbines and a fixed-panel solar array which power the Marshall buildings and are used to teach renewable energy to trainees

LEED Certified to Lead the Way

The Marshall Training Center is also built with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, part of our environmental commitment. This means the buildings use materials, energy and other resources more efficiently like:

  • Carefully positioned skylights
  • Sensors that trigger lights on and off when people use training classrooms
  • An advanced insulated design that includes renewable and recyclable materials

Check out more information on Consumers Energy’s environmental commitment.

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