JACKSON, Mich. -

Consumers Energy reports energy use and heating bills are up as Michigan residents face colder than usual temperatures.
 
The unit of Jackson-based CMS Energy Corp. says Wednesday its residential customers used 26 percent more natural gas this winter compared to a year ago.
 
Consumers Energy also says the typical residential customer has paid 15 percent more for natural gas this winter than a year ago. The utility says that comes despite the price for natural gas that Consumers Energy charges being the lowest in a decade.
 
Consumers Energy is offering the public tips, such as dialing down the thermostat by a degree or two and making sure vents aren't blocked by furniture. And the utility's Severe Weather Assistance Team will help the public manage bills starting Monday.