By Louisa Moller

BOSTON (CBS) – Local heating assistance programs are preparing to help their clients as the U.S. Government predicts there will be higher bills for heating this winter.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that the cost of heating oil will increase by 43%, natural gas by 30%, propane by 54%, and electricity by 6%. Those numbers climb even higher if the winter is colder than expected.

“We’re going into one of the winters that I feel is extraordinarily difficult. Actually, terrifying,” said John Drew, the President and CEO of Action for Boston Community Development or ABCD, a home heating assistance program.

(WBZ-TV)

ABCD helps roughly 25,000 Massachusetts families a year with home heating expenses. This year, Drew is encouraging people to apply early before funding begins to run out.

On November 2, the federal Department of Health and Human Services released $3.3 billion dollars in Fuel Assistance, allowing ABCD to increase their benefit for the lowest income levels from roughly $600 dollars to over $1,000. Drew still worries that will not be enough.

“I’m suspecting that people on the average will have a doubling the amount of cost of energy this winter. That could be anywhere up to $2,000 or $3,000. Therefore, we’re going to need more money,” Drew said.

One of ABCD’s clients who is concerned about her winter home heating bills is Karla Brown, a disabled mom in Dorchester.

Brown says her energy bills are normally high during the winter. This year, she worries about that cost in addition to higher prices across the board.

“When you talk about compoundedly looking at this in the long run, it’s scary. It’s really scary,” Brown said.

Louisa Moller