SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – While temperatures head downward, anxiety over higher heating costs is going up. Massachusetts residents can expect to pay a lot more to keep their homes warm this year, but there are some simple steps you can take to offset some of these high costs.

The cost of heating your home is expected to skyrocket this year due to higher than expected consumption and prices. The cost of heating is estimated to go up 28.6 percent for home with natural gas, 18.6 percent for homes with heating oil and 54.6 percent for electric.

One way to offset these costs is to apply to a fuel assistance program. Unless there’s an emergency, it’s takes about 45 days to process an application, so it’s time to get your application filed now. The Valley Opportunity Council is one organization that offers fuel assistance. You can start your application online, over the phone or in person.

“There is some documentation required. I generally tell people it’s like filing for taxes. There is proof required in terms of your income, most recent heating costs and those kinds of things,” said Melissa White, Director of Programs at Valley Opportunity Council.

Another way to cut heating costs is through weatherization. Organizations like Springfield Action for Community Partners can help with that. In addition to bracing yourself when you open your statements, there are simple steps you can take at home to keep costs down.

“Using programable thermostats to control heating and cooling when rooms are unoccupied can help to save up to $180 a year. Ahh also lowering the settings on you home water heaters to 120 degrees can help you save energy and prevent scalding,” said National Grid Spokesperson Michael Dalo.

However some families can’t turn down their thermostats too much.

“It’s difficult for me… I have a baby,” said Maria Nunex of Springfield.

Maria and her family are just one example of populations who aren’t able to delay turning on their heat this year. In addition to babies and infants, both elderly people and the disabled are groups that most need home heating during these colder periods.