We know that just because the seasons are changing and weather is warming up, doesn’t mean instant relief from winter energy bills. Whether you need assistance or know someone who does, please spread the word that help is available. Even if you did not qualify in the past, it is possible you will today – and you may even qualify for more than one program. Do not wait. Act now. Help is just a phone call or online visit away.  

Contact Michigan 2-1-1 first! 

Always start with the free, private help from Michigan 2-1-1 to guide you through finding and applying for assistance. They will connect you with organizations that can help with energy and other bills, food banks, shelter and more. Visit mi211.org for live online help or call 2-1-1 or 844-875-9211 from any phone. A live person takes calls 24 hours a day (every day – including holidays). Bilingual resource specialists and translation services are available in over 180 languages. 

Open to Most Everyone – not income dependent!  

While some of our programs are income dependent, there may be other ways for you to find savings on your energy bill or make a change that helps your monthly budgeting. Each program may have other requirements, but income is not one of them for the following and you may use more than one: 

  • Third-Party Release of Customer Information: With your written authorization, a trusted third party can discuss or make changes to your account and receive a copy of any shut-off notice. This may include a consenting friend, relative or agency. Your third-party contact is not responsible for payments, but may act as a liaison to help you make payment arrangements or account changes. 
  • Budget Plan: Enroll any time for a consistent year-round payment. Spreads your annual energy costs over 11 months and uses the 12th month to balance your account. If you used more or less energy than you paid for, your 12th-month bill will reflect the difference. Past due balances up to $75 can be rolled into your Budget Plan. 
  • Change Your Due Date: Choose a personalized due date that works best for your schedule. As you transition to your new due date, your first bill after this change may cover more or less time than usual. Be aware that it may take up to two bills for your new due date to take effect. 
  • Payment Arrangement Plan: With an initial down payment, the rest of your balance is split between even payments over time. Payments can be made weekly, bi-weekly and monthly. Contact us to learn more about eligibility and what your payment amounts would be. 
  • Home Energy Analysis (HEA): Schedule a free virtual or in-home HEA to have one of our experts show you the best ways to save energy and money. You could also get free upgrades such as LED bulbs, showerheads, faucet aerators, water pipe insulation and more. 

Helping those with the greatest need – Our Income Dependent Programs 

Eligibility varies by program. You may be eligible for more than one program at the same time. 

  • Consumers Affordable Resource for Energy (CARE): Customers who apply for and receive energy-related State Emergency Relief (SER) funds are eligible for the CARE program. On CARE, you receive a fixed-rate monthly bill and your past-due balance is gradually forgiven with on-time payments. Apply for SER at: NewMiBridges.gov.  If approved for SER, find an enrollment agency to apply for CARE: ConsumersEnergy.com/CARE 
  • Shut-Off Protection Plan (SPP): Available year-round to income-qualifying customers and anyone 65 or older, regardless of income. An initial down payment is required. Receive a fixed monthly bill and year-round protection from service shut-off. Using your historical annual energy use, your predicted annual energy costs are split into 12 equal payments, plus any past due balance. Your actual use is reviewed every 3 months and your monthly bill updated if different from the previous estimate.  
  • Winter Protection Plan (WPP): Available to income-qualifying customers and anyone 65 or older, regardless of income. Enroll anytime from November – March. An initial down payment is required. Enrollees receive lower energy bills and shut-off protection Nov. 1 – March 31. While enrolled, you pay 7% of your estimated annual bill along with a portion of any past due amount. In April, we update your bill based on actual energy used while enrolled. You pay 9% of your new estimated annual energy bill plus a portion of any new balance.
     
  • Helping Neighbors: Save on your energy bills and make your home more comfortable year-round – for FREE! Energy experts will assess your home’s energy use, install energy efficient upgrades and provide a custom report with other ways you can save. This visit can be done in-home or virtually. Schedule your appointment at ConsumersEnergy.com/HelpingNeighbors or call 877-448-9433. 
  • Military Active-Duty Shut-Off Protection: If the energy account holder for your home is serving full-time, active military service during a declared state of emergency or war deployment, you may apply for shut-off protection. To qualify, you must provide verification of your active-duty status. At the end of active-duty, you must notify us of your returned status – even if less than 90 days. Initial enrollment provides up to 90 days of coverage with the ability to extend every 3 months for the duration of your active-duty service. You are still responsible for your monthly payments for any energy used while enrolled. If a non-account holder will act on your behalf during this time, please also complete a Release of Customer Information (above). If you would like to disconnect your energy service while on active duty, contact us at 800-477-5050. 
  • Medical Shut-Off Protections: If you or a member of your household rely on home medical equipment that will not operate without electric service, you may be eligible for medical-related shut-off protections. The Medical Certification Form with a signature from a physician or Public Health Official is required. Forms have an expiration and must be re-submitted to extend or maintain participation in the program. For more information, including eligibility, protection details and an application, visit: ConsumersEnergy.com/LifeSupport 

State and Federal Programs 

Some program and service eligibility is based on federal poverty levels. To view the current guidelines, visit ASPE.HHS.gov/Topics/Poverty-Guidelines 

  • State Emergency Relief (SER): Available year-round to assist income-qualified households with high or past-due energy bills, shut-off notices or fuel deliveries. Contact your local Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) or apply online at: NewMiBridges.Michigan.gov  
  • Weatherization Assistance Programs: Eligible homeowners and renters receive free home energy conservation services. Items may include caulking, weather stripping, insulation, ventilation and smoke detectors. You automatically qualify if you participate in the Family Independence Program offered by Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) or if you receive Supplemental Security Income. For help getting started, find your local Community Action Agency at: MiCommunityAction.org • 517-321-7500 
  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): Federally funded assistance to reduce the costs associated with home energy bills, energy crises, weatherization and minor energy-related home repairs. Learn more by searching for the program name on Benefits.gov 
  • Michigan Veterans Trust Fund: Provides temporary assistance, including help with energy bills, to eligible veterans and their families during emergencies or hardships. MichiganVeterans.com • 800-642-4838 

Remember to apply for Tax Credits! 

  • Income-qualified workers can lower their taxes and even get a larger refund with the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). You must file your federal income taxes (1040 or 1040A with the EITC form) to be eligible, even if your income amount does not require you to. If you are married, you must file jointly to qualify. Contact the U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service at 800-829-3676 or visit: IRS.gov/EITC 
  • Eligible Michiganders can claim a Michigan earned income tax credit equal to a percentage of an eligible federal earned income tax credit with the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit and/or the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC). Submit forms or find additional information in the annual Michigan income tax booklet or visit: Michigan.gov/Treasury 
  • Income-qualifying households can apply for a Home Heating Credit (HHC) for the previous tax year to help pay winter heating bills. Even if your income does not require you to file taxes, you can still apply for this credit. You can find the Home Heating Credit Claim form (MI-1040CR-7) at Michigan.gov/Treasury or at one of our direct payment offices. The deadline to file each year is September 30 each year. 
  • Call 2-1-1 to be connected with a free tax preparation site. A live person takes calls 24 hours a day. 

DIY Energy Savings? Be safe! 

To reduce your energy use and save money, use our hot weather and cold weather tips.  

While we do recommend taking steps now to prepare for the next season’s temperature extremes, if you are into do-it-yourself (DIY) solutions, please be safe. Carbon monoxide poisoning could result from faulty fuel-burning systems or the incorrect setup, maintenance, and venting of these systems. 

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, tasteless and deadly gas. CO poisoning symptoms can easily be mistaken for the flu. Seek prompt medical attention if you think you may have been exposed and feel dizzy, light-headed, nauseous or have a headache. If you suspect CO poisoning, leave the area immediately and call 9-1-1. Knowledge is power – learn how to prevent and detect carbon monoxide poisoning.  

  • Install a carbon monoxide detector on every floor and check or change batteries regularly. If an alarm goes off, immediately leave the building and call 9-1-1. Do not go back inside until you’re told it is safe. 
  • Use generators safely. Never use a generator inside your home, basement, garage or near a window, door or vent. This can create CO poisoning or cause a fire. 
  • Always have permanent or whole-house generators installed by a qualified electrician. Improperly installed in-line generators can cause back-feed to our system, leading to potential for fires or electrocution. 

We’re always here to help.  

Energy reduction is just one way to assist with your energy bill. To learn about other options or enroll in any of our programs– call us: 800-477-5050 (Telecommunication Relay Services: 7-1-1) or visit: ConsumersEnergy.com/Assistance