With the high cost of pretty much everything these days, it’s a relief when you can find a way to cut down on costs. That is no different with energy bills – and while generally speaking, there isn’t a “coupon” you can apply to your energy bill or a “big sale” to take advantage of, there are small changes you can make that can equate to big savings, programs you can enroll in and assistance plans available to help when times are tough.

Managing Your Energy Use

There are many little changes you can make to realize big savings in your energy use and on your bill. But to know how to save, you need to know where you’re spending the most when it comes to energy usage.

According to EnergyStar.gov, the biggest energy users in a typical home are:

  • Heating/Cooling – 46%
  • Water Heating – 14%
  • Appliances – 13%
  • Lighting – 12%

Let’s start with the biggest user – and therefore biggest opportunity for savings – heating and cooling. And since it’s winter, we’ll stick with the heating side of things. You can reduce your heating costs by doing one (or all) of the following:

  • Have your heating system inspected by a service professional before the heating season.
  • Clean or replace your furnace filter every three months.
  • Close attic, basement, garage and exterior doors.
  • Use your ceiling fan. Turn your ceiling fan on low to push warm air away from the ceiling and move it around the room.
  • Install a programmable thermostat and lower your thermostat when you’ll be away.

Next up for energy use is your water heater.

  • Set your water heater temperature at 120 degrees. You will cut water heating bills without sacrificing comfort.
  • Install a low-flow aerator or flow restrictor on an existing showerhead.
  • Keep your hot water hot by making sure pipes in unheated areas are insulated.

Even after making changes to manage your energy use, we know the harsh winter weather can create a hardship when it comes to paying your bill. If you or someone you know could use a little support, review the information below and take advantage of the assistance available, both through Consumers Energy and other organizations – to make sure your needs are met this winter.

Consumers Energy Programs

CARE Program
The Consumers Affordable Resource for Energy (CARE) Program is an affordable payment plan that offers monthly payments at a fixed, affordable rate. Plus, if you make payments on time, your past due balance will be gradually forgiven. Learn more.

Helping Neighbors Program
The Helping Neighbors Program will provide a free expert energy assessment of your home. You may also be eligible for free energy upgrades like insulating pipes, installing free LED bulbs, showerheads and kitchen and bathroom faucet aerators. Learn more.

Shut-Off Protection Plan
The Shut-Off Protection Plan is available year-around. To be eligible you must meet income guidelines and be able to pay 10% of your total account balance to be enrolled. Call us at 800-477-5050 to register.

Winter Protection Plan
Winter Protection plan is available to senior citizens (65 years or older) Nov. 1 – March 31. To be eligible you must meet income guidelines and pay a down payment. Call us at 800-477-5050 to register.

Public Assistance Programs

In addition to connecting people with food banks and United Way, 2-1-1 offers a one-stop connection to thousands of local agencies and resources that can help with overdue bills, rent assistance, shelter for the night and more. If calling isn’t your thing, you can also visit their website and search their database of programs and services.

State Emergency Relief (SER)
Available year-round, to assist income qualified households with a heat or electric past due notice, shut-off notice, or need for deliverable fuel. Apply online here.

Home Heating Credit (HHC)
If your income is at or below 110% of the federal poverty level, you may apply for a Home Heating Credit from the State of Michigan to help pay winter heating bills (includes rented apartments and mobile homes). Learn more.

Other Programs
If you are a veteran or senior citizen, there may be other programs available to you. Visit our website and answer a couple questions to find out what is available based on your situation. https://www.consumersenergy.com/residential/programs-and-services/payment-assistance

Even in mild weather, we know paying bills can be a challenge and we are here to help. You can always call us at 800-477-5050 to discuss your situation and find the right solution for you.

Gifts of Energy

Oh, and I know we said we don’t have coupons for your bill – technically we do, and it could make a great gift this winter. Anyone can purchase an energy gift certificate available in amounts of $10, $20, $25 or $50. You don’t have to be a Consumers Energy customer, the certificates can be purchased anonymously if you prefer, and they don’t expire.

  1. By mail using the Gift of Energy Certificate form
  2. At your local Consumers Energy Bill Payment office (find a location near you)
  3. At select Credit Unions in East Michigan:
  • Burton – ELGA Credit Union, 2303 S. Center
  • Clawson – Diversified Members Credit Union, 625 N. Main St.
  • Davison – ELGA Credit Union, 8415 Davison
  • Flushing – ELGA Credit Union, G-6238 Pierson Rd.

Make sure your house is ready for the winter weather with these home solution tips.

For additional ways to save, check out this blog:

Ways to Save without Sacrificing Comfort this Winter

Finally, a few reminders to ensure your safety this winter: