SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Home heating costs are expected to skyrocket this winter but the time is now to apply for assistance.

The National Energy Assistance Directors Association is predicting a 17-percent jump in average home heating costs alongside a 42-percent hike in the cost of home electricity. Fortunately, there are assistance programs in place to help you foot the bill and it’s time to apply.

The state offers three unique programs that provide payment assistance, contribute funds to heating system repair and replacement, and weatherize your home. You can find extensive information on those on Mass.gov.

Locally, the Valley Opportunity Council is a one-stop shop for heating assistance. They have programs to help you foot the bill this winter, no matter how you heat your home from oil to pellets.

Depending on how your heat is delivered, the process and assistance may vary. Some are reimbursement plans, some are direct payment assistance to utility companies. You can apply in person at any of the Valley Opportunity Council’s offices, visit their website or call 413-552-1554.

You can apply now through April 30th for assistance with payments during the upcoming heating season which begins officially in November.