TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Few Americans have welcomed this year's mild winter as much as low-income families, who are enjoying an unexpected break from high heating bills.
Although there have been some cold snaps and snowstorms, the unseasonable conditions have been a blessing for people who usually devote hundreds of dollars a month to natural gas, propane or heating oil.
A Michigan utility called Consumers Energy says its natural gas customers are paying about 20 percent less than a year ago. The average residential bill for January will be $112, down from about $140.
Marc Ryan of Traverse City is living in a friend's trailer for the winter. His latest utility bill was for $90 — about $25 less than last year. Ryan says that's worth half a tank of gas for his pickup.