SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Energy experts have been warning residents for month… to prepare for high heating bills.

The Commonwealth is getting ready for a cold and expensive winter, with temperatures predicted to be three percent colder than last year and sky-high energy costs. Despite the chill of autumn in the area, consumers are holding off on turning up the heat.

“Usually I wait until November… try to anyway. I guess it’s to be expected in this economy of course. Everything’s been going off,” said Joshua Warren of Chicopee.

The cost of electric heat is predicted to rise 54 percent. The price of oil is already up 66 percent from last year. The drastic increase is prompting $1 billion in federal aid from Congress. This funding will go towards the state’s ‘Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.’

Valley Opportunity Council is also now accepting applications. Director of Programs Melissa White told 22News, “This fuel season covers from November 1st to April 30th, so if you apply even in April, it can still potentially cover bills and heating costs from November 1st on.”

People in need are encouraged to apply as soon as possible to avoid getting behind on payments. The application process can take between four to six weeks.

“We cover all heating sources, so electric, gas, oil, propane even pellet stoves we do cover,” said White.

There are ways you can save on your heating bill, like turning down your thermostat a few degrees and wearing an extra layer in the house.

“Plus we work all day long so during the day time, we reduce the heating, we warm up the house a little more,” said Helena Dixon of Ludlow.

The steep energy prices are a consequence of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.