JACKSON, Mich., Jan. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- With colder weather blanketing Michigan this week, Consumers Energy is reminding people that help is available if they have any concerns managing heating bills.
"It's important that we spread the word that resources can help people reduce their bills or assist if they are in difficult situation," said Garrick Rochow, Consumers Energy's vice president and chief customer officer.
"Those resources can start with a single phone call to 2-1-1. While funding remains and agencies stand ready to help, people shouldn't wait to see what's available if they find themselves falling behind. Getting help early is the best way to stay safe and in control."
Here are some ways that Consumers Energy and others are helping people with energy bills this winter:
- 2-1-1 -- The free hotline for social services needs is available in almost every Lower Peninsula county and can provide information about services that can help people who are eligible with energy bills or other household needs. Call anytime.
- Payment options from Consumers Energy – The energy provider offers payment plans and other assistance arrangements to help people manage bills. Seniors age 65 and older who hold a Consumers Energy account are protected from disconnection during the winter months. Other programs are available based income eligibility. Learn more at www.ConsumersEnergy.com/assistance.
- Energy efficiency – Households can lower heating bills by taking steps to make their homes more energy efficient. Consumers Energy's Helping Neighbors offers a free home analysis and energy-saving products to households that qualify based on income. Call 877-448-9433 or visit www.consumershelpingneighbors.com
- Home Heating Credit -- Qualified homeowners or renters who pay heating expenses are encouraged to apply for a Michigan Home Heating Credit. Refunds are issued in the form of credits applied toward energy bills. People do not need to file a state income tax return to receive this credit. You can find Form 1040CR-7 where tax forms are commonly available. The federal Earned Income Credit also is available to qualifying low-income taxpayers and must be filed during tax season. For income guidelines, contact your employer, call the Internal Revenue Service at 800-829-3676, or visit www.irs.gov.
- Discounts for homeless shelters – Consumers Energy provides a discount to Michigan homeless shelters that it services during the winter months. The discounts lower shelters' bills as they keep people warm.
"During winter, we want to make sure residents in the communities we serve stay warm," Rochow said. "We encourage everyone to be ambassadors for their loved ones and neighbors, and let them know help is available."
Consumers Energy, Michigan's largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.6 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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PAYMENT OPTIONS: Learn about options from Consumers Energy: www.ConsumersEnergy.com/assistance.
STATE EMERGENCY RELIEF: The Michigan Department of Human Services' program for emergency help. Apply online: www.mibridges.michigan.gov
VIDEO: Learn more about energy assistance: www.youtube.com/watch?v=EycT9KUaR9Y&feature=youtu.be
SOURCE Consumers Energy