ST. PAUL — Low-income Minnesotans could be eligible for federal financial support to get their homes weatherized and ready for winter.

And the state's commerce commissioner is hoping that more people will apply and take advantage of the funds.

Commissioner Steve Kelley said he is aiming to raise awareness about the Weatherization Awareness Program, which is run by the state, as well as the Low Income Energy Assistance Program. Both provide federal assistance to repair and improve furnaces, heating and energy systems and home insulation to improve energy efficiency.

“One of the ongoing challenges is that not enough people know about the program or think about applying even though they might be eligible,” Kelley told Forum News Service in a recent interview. “There’s a significant pool of funds available for rural residents who need to have their house weatherized."

Kelley said two-thirds of those who utilize the program live outside the Twin Cities metro area.

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Eligibility for the Weatherization Assistance Program is based on 200% of the Federal Poverty Income Guideline. For a single individual, the annual income threshold is $24,980. For a family of four, the cap is $51,500.

Top priority is given to elderly individuals, households with young children or disabled family members as well as high energy-consuming households. Families that have received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in the last year can also apply for assistance.

The nudge to get Minnesotans signed up for the programs comes ahead of what Farmers' Almanac has predicted will be a cold, snowy winter.