A change to the Good Neighbour Energy Fund will allow Nova Scotians to apply more often for help paying their heating bills during the winter.

The fund is administered by the Salvation Army, but receives money from the province. It is meant to help low-income families heat their homes in emergency situations.

Tracy Barron, spokeswoman for Service Nova Scotia, said in the past, Nova Scotians could only apply for help once every 36 months. That's been changed to every 24 months.

"It was opened up to every two years so we can help more people," she said.

Last winter, 1,757 households received the emergency funding. Barron said that compares to 1,821 applicants in 2014 and 1,512 in 2013.

"It's been fairly consistent," she said.

She expects those numbers to go up for 2016 now that eligibility has been reduced.

Applications for assistance opened Jan. 15 and the program will run until April 15. Barron said households that haven't received the funding in the past 24 months can qualify.

"So if you got the funding in January 2014, you will be eligible in February 2016," she said.

This year, the province will provide up to $800,000 for the program.

Barron said $400,000 will be given up front. The rest will be paid out later in the heating season after an assessment is done to determine if ongoing support is needed.

Applications for assistance can be found at here.