With the COVID-19 pandemic surging during the holiday season, the State of Michigan reminds residents that there are resources available for households worried about paying their energy bills.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the Michigan Public Service Commission and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services are emphasizing the availability of flexible payment plans and financial assistance for households struggling to pay bills for electricity and home heating now and after the holidays.  Utility customers in need should contact their utility to ask about flexible payment options and assistance. They may also apply for or find out more about State Emergency Relief and the Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) through MI Bridges at michigan.gov/mibridges. If you need help applying, call 211 and ask for a MEAP grantee near you for help. You also can find a local MEAP grantee at the MPSC’s MEAP information page.

State officials also have some tips on lowering heating costs this winter. Contact a certified professional and schedule a furnace tune-up so it runs more efficiently. Replace filters regularly because clogged filters make a furnace work harder. If replacing a furnace, look for the ENERGY STAR logo, which indicates a high-efficiency product.  Discuss with your utility provider programs that can help to manage costs. Ask about or sign up for demand response or time-of-use programs or a budget plan. Schedule a home energy assessment to identify ways to cut energy waste. Many utilities across the state are conducting energy assessments virtually and rebates on heating, ventilation and air conditioning, appliances, lighting, insulation and other improvements are available.

Go to the MPSC’s Be Winterwise page for more information on reducing energy bills, or check out additional recommendations from the U.S. Department of Energy.