With frigid temperatures expected for much of next week, the Minnesota Department of Commerce encourages eligible Minnesotans to get help paying their heating bills, stay safe through the state’s Energy Assistance Program.

Households that earn less than 50 percent of the state’s median annual income ($48,077 for a family of four) are eligible for the Energy Assistance Program.

Energy assistance funds help low-income homeowners and renters pay for heating bills through grant money paid directly to utility companies and heating fuel vendors on behalf of eligible households. The funding also helps some homeowners repair or replace malfunctioning heat systems.

In October, the Energy Assistance Program received over $102 million in federal funds, or about 90 percent of the total funds expected for the program this year. The program served over 126,000 Minnesota households last year, with an average grant of about $520.

The Minnesota Commerce Department administers the Energy Assistance Program in partnership with 30 local service providers throughout the state. The program is part of the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Applicants have until May 31, 2018, to apply. However, energy assistance funding is limited and administered on a first-come, first-served basis.