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Consumers Energy preps for extreme weather, offers tips to save money

With winter weather finally making its appearance in West Michigan, Consumers Energy offers some words of advice to save on your power bill.

MICHIGAN, USA — After West Michigan’s first accumulation of snow since March, it’s not a bad idea to try and find ways to save on your next power bill and have a plan in the event of a power outage.

A spokesperson for Consumers Energy said the utility company has made it a focus for the next several years to upgrade their power grid and effectively reduce the number of power outages in the area.

“We're in the process of completing over 2,000 electric projects that are going to strengthen the grid for over a million customers here in our service territory,” said Josh Paciorek with Consumers Energy. “The work includes clearing trees and plants and other vegetation around powerlines – that's the number one cause of power outages in Michigan.”

New technology to their lines is also said to help prevent outages from severe weather as well as increase response time in the event residents’ electricity does go out.

But for residents, winterizing your home is an effective way to save on your next electricity bill.

“One of the best pieces of advice I can give is check those areas around your doors and your windows,” Paciorek said. “Even just an eighth inch of a crack around a door, or a window is equivalent to a softball-sized hole right in the middle of the door – that just gives you an idea of visual of how much warm air could be escaping, and all any wasted warm air is just more heat that your furnace is going to have to generate – the more your furnace is working, the higher your energy bill will be.”

Paciorek recommends that those with an older furnace should get theirs serviced by a professional to make sure it’s running at peak efficiency.

“The more efficient your furnace runs, the less energy it's going to require to heat your home,” he said.

Still, Paciorek suggests that residents should have a plan in the event of a power outage, which could happen at anytime there’s a winter storm forecast with freezing rain, icing or strong winds.

“Sign up for outage alerts at consumersenergy.com, make sure you have enough food and supplies,” he said. “Know where your flashlights are – have that emergency kit ready make sure you have an extra blanket in your car just in case.

“And whenever there are power outages in the winter, you're going to see our crews working overnight… Especially with the slicker roads in the winter. We'd like to remind people to slow down, go around, give our crews the space when they're working on power outages.”

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