TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Thursday marks the start of the cold weather rule period in Kansas, restricting utility cutoffs for nonpayment of bills. The rule is in effect from November 1 to March 31. It prohibits shutoffs of residential electricity or natural gas service when temperatures are expected to be at or below 35 degrees over the following 24 hours. Utilities also must contact a customer 24 hours before a disconnection, and offer a 12-month payment plan for the customer to maintain or re-establish service. The Kansas Corporation Commission, which regulates utilities, says residents can help control heating costs by keeping furnaces maintained, weather-stripping and caulking doors and windows and setting thermostats at reasonable levels.