South Dakota has received slightly fewer applications from residents seeking help to pay heating bills than it did last year.
The state's administrator of the federal program says it's likely the result of tightened eligibility requirements and mild fall weather.
David Gall with the South Dakota Department of Social Services says cutbacks in federal funding over the past few years have left states trying to strike a balance between serving more households with smaller checks or fewer households with more assistance.
This year, South Dakota households with income up to 175 percent of the federal poverty level can qualify for the program, which pays utility company for natural gas, propane, electricity or fuel oil.
The average one-time payment for families across the country is $200 to $300.