Crews offered the following:
- Install an audible carbon monoxide alarm in homes that will sound if dangerous levels of this toxic gas are created, often by improperly operating appliances.
- Never leave a vehicle running in a garage, even with the door open. Also, be aware of the potential dangers of leaving a vehicle running outside in snowy conditions. If snow is deep enough it could block the car's tailpipe. These situations can cause carbon monoxide to develop. Carbon monoxide is also known as the "silent killer," because it is tasteless, odorless and colorless.
- Be aware of the signs of a possible gas leak, which can include a distinctive "rotten egg" smell, a blowing or hissing sound or flames if the leak has ignited. If you suspect a natural gas leak, leave the area immediately and call Consumers Energy at 800-477-5050 from a safe location.
- Have your heating system tuned and inspected annually by a service professional. Heat losses from a poorly maintained system can add up over time.
- Change or clean furnace filters once every month during the heating season, more if you own pets.
- Set your thermostat to a lower temperature at night or when you are away from home. You can save 1 to 3 percent on your heating costs for every degree you dial down.
- If you have a fireplace, close the damper when the fireplace is not being used. About 14 percent of air can escape through the fireplace chimney.
- Check for air leaks in doors, windows and exterior plumbing. A one-quarter inch gap around a door is equal to a softball-sized hole in the middle of it. Seal leaks or gaps with expandable foam, insulation strips, caulking or weather stripping.
- Check insulation in the attic, ceiling, walls and floor. Insulation is judged by its R-value. The higher the R-value, the better the material keeps heat in during cold weather and cool air in during hot weather. Required R-values vary across Michigan, so check with a store that sells insulation or a contractor for requirements.
Help is Available
"We understand the hardships some face in paying energy bills during the winter, and are committed to helping them find resources," Crews said.
- Don't wait to fall behind with your energy bill before asking for help. Consumers Energy offers access to resources that can help. Go to www.ConsumersEnergy.com/assistance
- Call 2-1-1 for a referral to the nearest helping agency, or contact nonprofit organizations that may have helped previously.
Consumers Energy, Michigan's largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.7 million of the state's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
For more information about Consumers Energy, go to www.ConsumersEnergy.com.
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To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/as-cold-winter-weather-continues-consumers-energy-offers-tips-to-stay-safe-reduce-energy-costs-300389611.html
SOURCE Consumers Energy