As the days start to cool in Michigan, residents might be able to offset the cost of summer utility bills with the Michigan Home Heating Credit.

Eligible households that paid for heat last winter have until Sept. 30 to apply for the 2018 Home Heating Credit. The credit is available for people whose income is 110% of the federal poverty guideline, or about $27,000 annually for a family of four.

Ross Yednock, Michigan Economic Impact Coalition program director at the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan, said both homeowners and renters can apply. "It's called the 'Home Heating Credit,' but it's really an energy credit, designed to really help folks pay for the heating last year," he said. "The last thing you're thinking about is turning on the furnace, but if you've got current costs, it will go towards your current bill." Yednock said those who paid money directly to a provider of fuel, heating oil or wood last year will receive the refund instead of a bill credit. Because the Home Heating Credit doesn't require a person to file a state income tax return to be claimed, he said, it often is overlooked.

Brian Wheeler, Consumers Energy senior public information director, said the Home Heating Credit is one part of a multi-pronged approach to help lower-income Michigan households manage their energy costs. Those efforts include payment plans for utility bills and home energy-efficiency programs. "We really work to help people reduce how much energy they use and save some money - and then, if they need that temporary assistance, we can help connect them with that," he said. "We can do a lot to help people stay on top of things and not be in a situation where they need more help."

More information is online through the link below. (JK)

Public News Service contributed to this report.