JACKSON, Mich., Nov. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- With at least one longtime farming periodical predicting cold, harsh winter weather for Michigan, Consumers Energy is offering important tips to help keep residents safe and warm throughout the heating season.
"If Mother Nature delivers the kind of weather being predicted, it's going to be cold and snowy this winter. Because safety is always our top priority, we are sharing information designed to help keep our customers safe and warm as we provide them with reliable natural gas service," said Charles Crews, vice president of gas operations for Consumers Energy.
The most important tip Crews shared is how to identify a possible natural gas leak. Signs can include a distinctive "rotten egg" smell, a blowing or hissing sound, bubbling in wet areas, dead or discolored vegetation in an otherwise green area, or flames if a leak has ignited.
If you suspect a natural gas leak:
- Leave the area immediately, go to a safe location and call Consumers Energy at 800-477-5050 and dial 9-1-1. Consumers Energy will respond at no charge, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Do not try to locate the source of the leak. Do not use anything that could cause a spark including electrical devices, light switches, cell phones or garage door openers.
- Do not use an open flame, matches or lighters. Do not start vehicles parked near the area.
- Do not re-enter the building until a Consumers Energy employee says it is safe.
About 42 percent of a typical home's annual energy use is attributed to space heating, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Crews also offered these tips to enhance home comfort:
- If your heating system is 10 years old or older, consider upgrading to an ENERGY STAR qualified model. If installed correctly these high-efficiency units can reduce heating costs by up to 20 percent. Consumers Energy offers rebates from $200 to $1,000 on a natural gas furnace or boiler.
- Change furnace air filters once every month during the heating season. A dirty filter restricts airflow and wastes energy.
- Check for air leaks in doors, windows, exterior plumbing and electrical accesses as well as attic joists. Seal with expandable foam, insulation strips, caulking or weather stripping.
- Set your thermostat to a lower temperature at night or when you are away from home. Install a programmable thermostat to add convenience and increase savings. You'll typically save 1 to 3 percent on your heating costs for every degree you dial down. Consumers Energy offers rebates from $10 to $50 on programmable thermostats and Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats.
- Hire a qualified professional to perform a home energy audit. An auditor will help you target the most effective opportunities to make your home more energy efficient.
Consumers Energy has been recognized as an ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year for Sustained Excellence for efforts to reduce Michigan residents' energy use.
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.
LEARN MORE: Learn about natural gas and electric safety: www.ConsumersEnergy.com/safety
LEARN MORE: Find out about available energy efficiency rebates: www.ConsumersEnergy.com/save
For more information about Consumers Energy, go to www.ConsumersEnergy.com.
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SOURCE Consumers Energy