Be WinterWise

Be WinterWise

If you have trouble paying energy bills during the winter months, use this Be WinterWise information to look for assistance that meets your situation and needs.

Home Heating Assistance Programs 2011-2012

Earned Income Credit
Contact: U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service 800-829-3676 (for tax forms)
Contact: Michigan Department of Treasury.

The Earned Income Credit (EIC) is a refundable federal income tax credit for low-income working individuals and families who meet certain requirements and file a tax return. Those who qualify will owe less in taxes and may get a refund. Even a person who does not generally owe income tax may qualify for the EIC, but must file a tax return to do so. If married, you must file jointly to qualify. File Form 1040 or 1040A and attach the EIC.

You may claim a Michigan earned income tax credit for tax year 2011 equal to a percentage of the federal earned income tax credit for which you are eligible. See the 2011 Michigan tax booklet.

Home Heating Credit*
Contact: Michigan Department of Treasury, toll-free phone 800-367-6263, or

You can apply for a Home Heating Credit for the 2011 tax year if you:

  • meet the income guidelines (see below)
  • you own or rent the home in Michigan where you maintain a permanent residence, or
  • you qualify based on alternate guidelines including household income, exemptions, and heating costs.

If you qualify, you may receive assistance to help pay for your winter heating bills. Forms are available in mid- to late-January wherever tax forms are provided, or from the Michigan Department of Treasury (800-367-6263, or The Home Heating Credit claim form must be filed with the Michigan Department of Treasury by September 30, 2012.

Minimum Income
add $4,200 for each additional family member

Crisis Assistance Program
Contact: Local Michigan Department of Human Services (county offices are listed in your local telephone book)

State Emergency Relief Program (SER)
You do not have to be a client of the Department of Human Services to apply. This program is available year-round, subject to the availability of funds, to assist low-income households that have a heat or electric shut-off notice or a need for deliverable fuel. However, if you receive a DHS cash grant, you may vendor part of that grant towards heat and electric bills. Contact your DHS caseworker or call the Home Heating Hotline, 800-292-5650.

Low-Income Home Weatherization
Contact: Local Community Action Agency

You may be able to receive help with weatherizing your home to reduce energy use if you meet low-income eligibility guidelines (see income guidelines above) and funding is available. Weatherization may include caulking, weather-stripping, and insulating. Contact your local Community Action Agency for more information.

Medical Emergency Protection
Contact: HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative
at 800-562-8232

You are protected from service shut-off for non-payment of your electric bill for up to 21 days, possibly extended to 63 days, if you have a proven medical emergency. You must provide written proof from a doctor, public health or social services official that a medical emergency exists.

Shut-off Protection for Military Active Duty
Contact: HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative
at 800-562-8232

If you or your spouse has been called into active military duty, you may apply for shut-off protection from your electric service for up to 90 days. You may request extensions. You will still be required to pay, but we will help you set up a payment plan.

Winter Protection Plan
Contact: HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative
at 800-562-8232

The Winter Protection Plan protects eligible senior and low-income customers from service shut-offs and high utility bill payments during the winter months (November 1 – March 31). You may enroll between November 1 and March 31. If you are an eligible low-income customer, your utility service will remain on from November 1-March 31, if you:

  • pay at least 7% of your estimated annual bill each month, and
  • regular payments of 1/12 of any past due bills.

When the protection period ends (March 31), from April 1 through October 31, you must begin to pay the full monthly bill, plus part of the amount you owe from the winter months when you did not pay the full bill. Participation does not relieve customers from the responsibility of paying for electricity use, but does prevent shut-off during winter months. You qualify for the plan if you meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • you are age 65 or older,
  • you receive Department of Human Services cash assistance, including SSI,
  • you receive Food Stamps,
  • you receive Medicaid, or
  • your household income is at or below the 150% of poverty level shown in the Income Guidelines chart below.

Senior citizen customers (65 or older) who participate in the Winter Protection Plan are not required to make specific payments to ensure that your service will not be shut off between November 1 and March 31. However, you are encouraged to pay whatever you can during the winter so you will not have large, unmanageable bills when the protection period ends.

Number In
150% Poverty Guide
Maximum Income
Add $5,730 for each additional member.

Note: All senior citizens 65+ are eligible regardless of income. Customers are responsible for all electricity used. At the end of the protection period, participants in the plan must make arrangements with HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative to pay off any money owed before the start of the next protection period.

Page Features: 

Together We Save