Heating help available

LANSING — Residents are reminded there may be assistance available for those struggling to keep their homes warm this winter season.

The Winter Protection Plan is a deferment plan that is designed to ease the burden of high winter utility bills. It helps protect seniors and low-income gas and electric customers from service shutoffs and high utility bills from Nov. 1 to March 31. Eligible customers can avoid shutoffs while paying nothing or just a small percentage of their annual bill.

Although no payments are required during the heating season, it is recommended that program participants pay something to avoid large payments when the protection period ends.

To apply, residents should contact their natural gas or utility company.

The State Emergency Relief Program offers assistance for low-income residents who may need help due to an unforeseen emergency. Visit www.michigan.gov/heatingassistance. The site also includes details on the Weatherization Assistance Program — which helps provide free energy conservation services to low-income Michigan homeowners and renters — and the Home Heating Credit.