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Winter appears to have arrived early, and DTE Energy is already working to help its natural gas customers save energy and money.

There are three key variables that contribute to a customer’s bills: the cost of the natural gas used by a customer, the amount of natural gas used and the severity of the weather, which impacts energy use. DTE has identified ways to keep natural gas costs down and is working with customers to help prepare for the frigid temperatures.

“We are constantly looking for ways to make energy more affordable for our customers, and take the stress out of making payments,” said Mark Stiers, president and COO, DTE Gas. “To keep prices relatively low and stable, we utilize a strategy that calls for buying natural gas far in advance of the winter and then storing significant quantities of natural gas underground during the summer months when demand is low. This practice results in a savings, which is passed on to our customers.”

Since the weather can be unpredictable, DTE encourages customers to consider making small changes that will definitely help to lower costs.

DTE recommends installing a programmable thermostat and setting it at 68-degrees when the home is expected to be occupied and lower when it is not. When used effectively, a programmable thermostat can save about $180 a year in heating costs. On cold winter nights, adding a blanket to the bed can allow customers to lower their thermostats another degree or two. DTE also offers payment plans and programs to help manage bills, including BudgetWise Billing, which provides customers the ability to spread their heating payments equally over the entire year.

DTE believes its efforts to keep costs down for customers contributed to the company being ranked “Highest in Customer Satisfaction With Residential Natural Gas Service in the Midwest U.S. Among Large Utilities,” according to the J.D. Power 2014 Gas Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction StudySM released in September.

The study, now in its 13th year, measures residential customer satisfaction with gas utility companies across six factors: billing and payment; price; corporate citizenship; communications; customer service; and field service.

“All year, our customers are our number one priority,” said Stiers. “This winter will not be any different. If this winter serves up something similar to last year, we will again be ready, willing and able to serve.”

For more information about managing winter heating costs, visit dteenergy.com/winter and dteenergy.com/needhelp.

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