MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – As a blast of wintry weather slammed Minnesota on Tuesday, officials reminded residents to apply for energy assistance if they need help keeping the heat on this season.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce says that Minnesotans who earn less than the state’s median annual income — $48,000 for a family of four – are eligible for the Energy Assistance Program.

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“Heating your home is a necessity in Minnesota,” said Commerce Commissioner Jessica Looman, in a news release, adding that: “energy assistance is essential for vulnerable Minnesotans, especially low income families with young children, people with disabilities, veterans and seniors.”

The Energy Assistance Program uses grant money to directly pay utility companies on behalf of eligible households and renters. Funding can also be used toward repairing furnaces and malfunctioning heating systems.

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To apply, contact your local service provider. If you don’t know your service provider, call 800-657-3710 or click here.

Applicants have until May 31, 2018, to apply. Note, however, that grants are distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

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Last year, the Energy Assistance Program served more than 126,000 Minnesota homes, with an average grant of about $520.