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Consumers Energy Offers Information to Manage Bills, Stay Safe This Winter Heating Season

  Consumers Energy Offers Information to Manage Bills, Stay Safe This Winter
                                Heating Season

PR Newswire

JACKSON, Mich., Jan. 16, 2014

JACKSON, Mich., Jan. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --With Michigan feeling the impact
of this cold winter, Consumers Energy is continuing to work to keep heating
costs low. It also is offering information and assistance to help the public
this heating season.

"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," said
Mary Palkovich, Consumers Energy's vice president of energy delivery. "Even
with increased energy usage, people still should be receiving smaller natural
gas bills this winter than five years ago."

Consumers Energy continues to offer the lowest price of any major natural gas
provider in Michigan, which is largely made possible by the third-largest
natural gas storage system in the U.S. The company stores gas in 15
underground fields that cover about 99,000 acres throughout the state.

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

  oTake free and low-cost steps to reduce heating costs. Homeowners 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 percent by utilizing a programmable thermostat.
    Learn more at www.ConsumersEnergy.com/save.
  oSign up for Consumers Energy's Budget Plan, which spreads out annual
    energy costs into equal monthly payments. For more information, go to
    www.ConsumersEnergy.com/budgetplan.
  oKnow that recent winter storms and cold weather is leading to an increase
    in estimated meter reads. Estimates are based on past energy usage and
    recent weather data. If you receive a statement based on an estimated
    reading, your actual usage will be reconciled with the next actual meter
    reading. If you have questions, call 1-800-477-5050.
  oAssistance is available to help people pay bills. The CARE program is
    available based on income, from $17,235 for an individual up to $59,445
    for a household of eight. 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 (sawmni.org/cecare) or TrueNorth
    Community Services (800-379-0221).

"We appreciate that this cold winter can lead to increased energy usage to
keep homes and businesses warm. We also want the public to know that help is
available for those who need it," Palkovich said.

Last, the public should keep safety in mind. People are asked to inspect gas
or electric meters to determine if icicles or snow have formed above or around
meters, and undertake careful removal by hand.

Keeping meters free of ice, snow and icicle buildup can help prevent service
interruptions. Mobile home customers are advised to safely clear snow away
from rooftop chimneys, preferably by using a snow rake so that furnaces can
continue to operate properly.

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.

Safety tips
Consumers Energy also offers safety tips:

  oIn the event of a service interruption, never use a cooking stove, oven or
    gas-fired space heater to heat a home because they can cause carbon
    monoxide poisoning.
  oCarbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas that is colorless, odorless, tasteless
    and can be produced when appliances aren't operating or vented properly.
    The best defense against CO poisoning is to install an alarm.
  oKeep supplemental heaters away from curtains, bedspreads or anything
    flammable. Unplug heaters before going to bed or leaving home.
  oKeep natural gas appliance and high efficiency furnace air intake valves
    and exhaust pipes free of snow and ice by carefully removing it by hand.

For more information about Consumers Energy, visit us at
www.ConsumersEnergy.com or join us on Facebook at
www.facebook.com/consumersenergymichigan.

SOURCE Consumers Energy

Website: http://www.consumersenergy.com
Contact: Brian Wheeler, 517-788-2394, or Terry DeDoes, 517-374-2159
 
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