With Polar Vortex II upon us, Consumers Energy is continuing to work to keep heating costs low for residents.

Mary Palkovich, Consumer Energy's vice president of energy delivery, says "mother nature isn't going easy on Michigan this winter, but the homeowners and business owners we serve should know we are looking out for them."

Consumers Energy offers the following suggestions to manage your monthly heating bill:

  • Take free and low-cost steps to reduce heating costs. Home owners should have their furnace inspected each year to make sure it's running efficiently and to replace the furnace filter often. Customers can also see savings of up to 20% by utilizing a programmable thermostat. For more information, click here.
  • Sign up for Consumers Energy Budget Plan, which spreads out annual energy costs into equal monthly payments. For more information click here.
  • Know that recent winter storms and cold weather is leading to an increase in estimated meter reads. Estimated reads are based on past energy usage and recent weather data. Statements based on estimated usage will be reconciled with the next actual meter reading.
  • Assistance is available to help people pay bills. The CARE program is available based on income. People can enroll in CARE through February by contacting one of three partner agencies: The Heat and Warmth Fund (877) 646-2818, The Salvation Army or TrueNorth Community Services (800) 379-0221.
  • Consumers also reminds to keep safety in mind by removing snow or ice on meters and clearing snow away from rooftop chimneys.

Palkovichs says Consumers Energy wants "the public to know that help is available for those who need it."