We've all had our mouths drop open when we've opened our energy bills in the dead of winter. If you know you will need assistance with your winter heating bills, the Low Income Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, is beginning to take applications for the winter of 2016.

Applications are already being accepted for seniors and people with disabilities, and families with children under 5 years old can begin applying on October 1, 2016. Applications for all other eligible households can begin applying for assistance on November 1, 2016.

Winnebago and Boone County residents can apply at the Rockford Human Services Department at 555 North Court Street in Rockford.

Stephenson and Jo Daviess County residents can apply at Northwestern Illinois Community Action Agency at 27 South State Avenue in Freeport.

Ogle, Lee, Carroll and Whiteside County residents can apply at the Tri-County Opportunities Council at 405 Emmons Avenue in Rock Falls.

To find out if your family is eligible for assistance, and for more information about the LIHEAP program, visit the Illinois Department of Commerce & economic Opportunity website here.