9 Tips to Manage Bills, Stay Safe This Winter

ProgrammableTstatWith the recent record cold temperatures in Michigan, here are 9 tips to help Consumers Energy customers manage bills and stay safe this winter heating season. 

  1. Take free and low-cost steps to reduce heating costs. Homeowners should have their furnace inspected each year to make sure it’s running efficiently and to replace the furnace filter often. Customers can also see savings of up to 20 percent when using a programmable thermostat. Learn more at www.ConsumersEnergy.com/save.
  2. Sign up for Consumers Energy’s Budget Plan, which spreads out annual energy costs into equal monthly payments. For more information, go to www.ConsumersEnergy.com/budgetplan.
  3. Assistance is available to help people pay bills. The CARE program is available based on income, from $17,235 for an individual up to $59,445 for a household of eight. People can enroll in CARE through February by contacting one of three partner agencies: The Heat and Warmth Fund (877) 646-2818, The Salvation Army at sawmni.org/cecare or TrueNorth Community Services (800) 379-0221. CARE territory map
  4. Winter storms and cold weather have led to an increase in estimated meter reads. Estimates are based on past energy usage and recent weather data. If you receive a statement based on an estimated reading, your actual usage will be reconciled with the next actual meter reading. If you have questions, call 1-800-477-5050.
  5. In the event of a service interruption, never use a cooking stove, oven or gas-fired space heater to heat a home because they can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
  6. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas that is colorless, odorless, tasteless and can be produced when appliances aren’t operating or vented properly. The best defense against CO poisoning is to install an alarm.
  7. Keep supplemental heaters away from curtains, bedspreads or anything flammable. Unplug heaters before going to bed or leaving home.
  8. Keep natural gas appliance and high efficiency furnace air intake valves and exhaust pipes free of snow and ice by carefully removing it by hand.
  9. Keep meters free of ice, snow and icicle buildup to prevent service interruptions. Mobile home customers are advised to safely clear snow away from rooftop chimneys, preferably by using a snow rake so that furnaces can continue to operate properly.