By Joi Harris
Times are tough for many of our friends and neighbors, especially for those who have always struggled, but help is out there. Bitter winter weather and the financial strains of inflation pose a one-two punch of pain and suffering for Michiganders who can’t afford to heat their homes. What’s worse, some of the most vulnerable among us don’t know about the tens of millions of dollars available to help them keep their light and heat.
But there are people and programs working hard to take care of those in need. Every major energy company in Michigan connects its customers to assistance through the Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), as well as nonprofit sources such as the United Way of Southeast Michigan and the Health and Warmth Fund (THAW).
At DTE Energy, where I serve as president of the Gas division, we’re committed to helping ensure our customers keep the energy they need. A few months ago, we made a $10 million donation to THAW, the Salvation Army, United Way and TrueNorth. In the last six years, DTE has donated more than $60 million to nonprofits like these who provide energy assistance to limited-income Michiganders – and we are not the only energy company in the state that does so.
Here are three ways to get help:
Contact DTE at 800-477-4747 as soon as you know you have a challenge paying your bill.
You may also dial 211 to reach a service agency for help in identifying all the assistance available.
Learn more about our many payment plans and protective programs at dteenergy.com/help.
With all this assistance available, nobody should go without power due to a lack of resources. Our DTE customer service teams are equipped and trained to connect customers to assistance programs. Plus, our Personal Protection Plan draws together all forms of assistance and personalizes solutions for our customers based on their specific circumstances.
Beyond direct financial aid, customers can save money on their bills through DTE’s energy efficiency programs:
Home Energy Consultations provide free, energy efficient products as well as money-saving tips for a single-family home, duplex or condominium.
Customers who have a limited income may explore DTE’s Energy Efficiency Assistance (EEA) program, where qualifying customers can receive additional energy efficient products to help reduce their monthly bills.
Additionally, DTE encourages customers to consider these money-saving tips:
Install a programmable thermostat. Save up to $180 annually by programming it for the season. The recommended settings for winter are 65 degrees during the day and a degree or two lower at night.
Save up to $200 a year by sealing air leaks around your home to keep heat in and cold air outside and adding proper insulation.
Inspect and replace your furnace filter at the start of the season and at least every three months to ensure your furnace can work at peak efficiency.
For more tips and ways to save on winter heating bills, visit dteenergy.com/staywarm.
Don’t suffer in silence. If you’re having trouble with your energy bills this winter, ask for help. If you own a small business pinched by rising energy costs, reach out to us.
We’ll do everything in our power to help you keep your lights and heat on this winter and beyond.
Joi Harris is President of DTE Gas, a 30-year veteran of the Detroit-based company.