New Hampshire has opened its winter fuel assistance program two weeks early, after the release of $25 million in federal money.
The program, open to any household with an annual income below about $65,000, helps low- and middle-income residents pay their heating bills in the coldest months of the year.
The state says this year's average fuel assistance award will be around $900.
Officials say the program is meant as a supplement to residents' usual heating costs, and that families who expect to need the aid should apply as soon as possible. Residents can also apply for home weatherization funds and assistance at the same time.
Both programs are administered jointly through the state's five Community Action Programs.