(Springfield, Mo.) As temperatures rise, so are many utility bills, and some people may be struggling to afford them.

There are some programs to help lighten the burden. One of those is the Low Income Energy Assistance Program.

Thousands of families across the Ozarks are struggling to pay their utility bills- which is leaving many of them without air conditioning during the hot summer months.

"It’s really hard to make all the bills. Once you make your rent and your utilities there’s just not much left. So you got to make a choice," explains Kathy Roberts, recipient of the LIHEAP program. 

And in tough economic times, there are several people like Roberts around the region who can’t even afford ac in their own home.

"You get a bill that’s $200-$300 you just can’t pay it. You just can’t and even now I even try to keep it down so I don’t spend so much."

Roberts says electricity is essential because she battles medical problems,"being 60 years old with COPD you know you get sick, next thing you know you’re sicker than a dog and you’re in the hospital. So you have to be real careful with everything as far as the utilities go."

That's why she called Ozarks Community Action Corporation for help and has been part of their energy assistance program for years.

"There are so many people out there that are struggling and OCAC steps in and takes your utility bill and pays so much at the end of the year and that part will carry over into the next year so maybe January, February, you might not have a bill which is just like thank you God."

Tommie Trammell, Director, Ozarks Community Action Corporation, says OCAC helps serve almost 14,000  people each year through their LIHEAP energy assistance program, seeing the most when those high summer and winter bills start piling up.

"So come summer with the heat now that’s approaching, of course May was hot, we are now almost up to 2,000 in less than a month," explains Trammell. 

Applicants must meet certain income guidelines based on the size of their household, but for those looking for some help LIHEAP makes a big difference.

 "It’s very important that friends take care of each other, neighbors take care of neighbors, so that they won’t pass away this summer heat."

You can apply by calling (417) 864-3460 or Click Here for more information about LIHEAP.