It hasn't been too cold for long this Winter, but, this weekend those temps will not be above freezing, so that means the furnaces will most likely be running more often, and for longer each time. At least that's the way it seems to be in my house -- and I keep my thermostat at 68 degrees. I don't want to have to pay out the nose to heat my home.

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing difficulty in paying their heating costs this winter, there is help out there. In October, Minnesota received about $116 million in federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds for this year's energy assistance program. This program is not affected by the Government shutdown. Households with young children, people with disabilities, and veterans or seniors are especially encouraged to apply.

Last year the Energy Assistance Program served more than 126,000 Minnesota households, with an average grant of $545. Of the households helped, nearly 56,000 were senior citizens and more than 8,000 were veterans.

If you need to apply you can go to the Energy Assistance Program Section of the Minnesota Department of Commerce website. New applications will be taken through May 31st, however, the funds are dispersed on a first come first serve basis, and they are limited. You can also reach out to the Department of Commerce by phone, 800-657-3710. I did some looking and in Southeast Minnesota, depending on the County you live in, you will need to contact:

Dodge, Steele, Freeborn, Mower - Semcac

Rice, Olmsted - Three Rivers Community Action

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