Despite the predictions of woolly bear caterpillars, almanacs or meteorologists about the upcoming winter, one thing is certain: Heating season will be in full swing.

Another thing is certain: Eligible PPL Electric Utilities customers can get financial help with their heating bills or for heating emergencies through the federally funded LIHEAP program. Pennsylvania is now accepting applications for the program.

“We urge those who qualify to get their applications in early,” said Tim Dahl, manager of regulatory programs in the utility’s Customer Services division. “The funding is limited, so it’s important not to delay.”

LIHEAP, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, is administered through county assistance offices.

LIHEAP grants don’t have to be repaid. Potential recipients don’t have to have an unpaid heating bill, and they can either own or rent their home. And though the program is run through county assistance agencies, those who get grants don’t need to be public assistance recipients.

LIHEAP cash grants help families pay their heating bills. The grant is sent to the customer’s utility company or fuel provider and is shown as a credit on their bill. In some cases, the grant goes directly to the customer. Grants also are available for heating emergencies such as equipment breakdowns.

We’re reaching out to potential LIHEAP recipients because we want them to make sure they know about the program and to encourage them to take advantage of its benefits. For those on limited incomes, winter can be tough. LIHEAP can offer some peace of mind.

There are a variety of ways to apply. You can register online at www.compass.state.pa.us or get an application at your local county assistance office. Application links also are available at pplelectric.com/liheap. In addition, you can request an application by calling the statewide LIHEAP Hotline at 1-866-857-7095, or TDD for the hearing impaired at 1-800-451-5886.

Income guidelines for 2014-15 are $17,505 for one person and an increase of $6,090 for each additional person in the household.

For the 2013-14 heating season, more than 26,000 eligible PPL Electric Utilities customers received about $7.7 million in LIHEAP grants. The program has assisted about 534,000 customers with $158 million since 1986.