Minnesota’s cold-weather rule takes effect Saturday, preventing income-eligible residents from having their heat shut off during the state’s most bone-chilling months.

Under the law, customers struggling to keep up with energy bills and establish a payment plan with their provider are protected from any service disconnection to their primary heat source for six months — between Oct. 15 and April 15.

“We understand that customers can sometimes face challenges paying their electric and natural gas bills and we want to provide the resources they need to make payment arrangements,” said Pat Boland, manager of Xcel Energy’s Customer Policy and Assistance. “We have several programs and work with many agencies that can provide assistance or identify other resources for customers in need.”

Customers who wish to tap into the service, must commit to a monthly payment option with their utility company that does not exceed 10 percent of their household income. If they do receive a disconnection notice, customers should immediately contact their provider and make arrangements. However, all utilities are not covered by the law, only those that provide primary heating.

Xcel customers were recently mailed information about the cold-weather rule with their most recent bills. To see if you qualify, call Xcel’s 24-hour residential customer service line at 1-800-895-4999.

Other forms of assistance may be available through county social service programs, community-based organizations and nonprofits.