WASHINGTON — Winter is here, on the calendar and in the air, as the winter storm sweeping the country prompted an oval office briefing for President Joe Biden.

“It’s not like a snow day when you were a kid. This is some serious stuff,” the President said.

And as the temperatures fall, many Americans are worried about their heating bills going up. The U.S. Energy Department says the costs of natural gas, heating oil, and electricity are all up by double-digits compared to last winter.

“Going without utilities, especially heat during a blizzard, is simply not an option,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said.

Gillibrand says help is on the way with $5 billion included in the government spending bill to help low-income Americans pay to heat their homes.

“Families and communities will be able to keep their homes warm and keep their neighbors safe,” Gillibrand said.

However, some lawmakers say this doesn’t do anything to address the reason energy costs keep climbing.

“The most important thing we can do when it comes to energy prices and costs is to get them down,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said.

Hawley blames the Biden administration’s energy policies for the steeper price tags.

“It makes no sense to me. Reopen America’s pipelines, re-open our rigs. Let American workers get back at it and get the energy prices down,” Hawley said.

Gillibrand urges those struggling to heat their homes to fill out an application as soon as possible.

“A lot of people don’t even know that they’re eligible,” Gillibrand said.

She says more families than ever will qualify for assistance.