January had some of the harshest winter weather Michigan has seen in a while, and when the temperature drops, natural gas usage and bills will go up. Changing how you use energy can help you control the price you pay during the winter. Here’s what you need to know about how what’s happening outside your window affects what goes on inside.


A big influence on the amount of energy you use to heat your home is the weather outside. When temperatures fall, your furnace runs more often and for longer, increasing the amount of energy you use.

You can help reduce the weather’s impact on your bill by sealing air leaks that allow frigid air into your home and let the warm air out. Use caulk or weather stripping to seal leaks around windows and doors, and consider installing more energy-efficient windows and doors when remodeling.

Increased usage

The main reason your bill may increase is simply because of using more energy. Here are some things to consider:

  • Did you raise your thermostat setting?
  • Were you home more often?
  • Are there more people in your home?

These are just a few of the potential reasons you may have used more energy, and increased usage will increase your bill.

To keep a handle on your usage, install and properly set a programmable thermostat to automatically increase the temperature when you’re awake, and reduce the temperature at night when everyone is asleep and while you’re away from home. To stay comfortable around the house, put on an extra layer of clothing or use a blanket to stay warm without touching the thermostat. With proper use throughout the year, programmable thermostats can save you about $180 annually in energy costs.

Longer bill cycles

Your bill covers a month’s worth of energy usage, but because of several factors, the exact number of days on your bill can vary from month to month. As a result, you may sometimes receive a bill that covers as few as 28 or as many as 35 days of service. This can make your total bill larger even if your usage patterns didn’t change.

If you’re concerned about variability in your bill, DTE offers a number of programs that may be able to help manage your monthly charges such as BudgetWise Billing.

Estimated meter readings

Sometimes, especially in ice and snow, it can be difficult or impossible for us to get an actual meter reading of your usage. When that happens, we will estimate your meter reading, which can over- or underestimate your actual usage and can result in a fluctuating bill.

To ensure that your bill reflects your actual usage and not an estimated reading, it’s important to keep your meter clear of ice and snow. It’s also crucial that there is a clear, safe path to and from your meter.

For more tips on how to stay warm and manage your heating costs, visit dteenergy.com/staywarm.

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