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The good people that live around Willow could be excused for thinking Mother Nature was out to get them on Monday.

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10/12/2012
Heating our homes

The nip is in the air.

People in Ketchikan, the surrounding area and throughout Alaska — particularly in some villages — are in for a cold one.

Of course, it's always cold in Alaska during winter.

But it might be colder this winter, according to weather prognosticators. That means, regardless of what is being charged for fuel — which isn't cheap — households will need more of it to maintain the same temperatures in their homes as they did a year ago.

Households can expect anywhere from a 5- to a 20-percent increase in heating costs, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

Ketchikan has been seeing an increase in the number of people turning to electricity and other non-fuel possibilities for home heating. Electric heaters are seen placed strategically by doors to take the edge off in the best of homes.

Not since wood was the main source of home heating does it seem there's been as much talk about where to acquire firewood.

At least one advertisement in the newspaper during the week of the 2012 Alaska Wood Energy Conference offered 200 pounds of pellets to pellet stove owners at no charge. All it takes to acquire them is to fill out the ad's coupon.

Generosity will be especially appreciated this winter, given the heating situation. One of the best outlets for giving and receiving help is through Love Inc. It's operated by the local churches, providing one spot for the poor and others down on their luck to acquire assistance. A single location, with one main coordinator, also prevents abuse of the community's generosity.

In addition, it will be helpful — especially this winter — for neighbors and communities to look for opportunities to help others. Trees coming down in the wind or cut down in advance of it can be donated. Extra pellets can be shared.

It's also important to conserve. Turn off unnecessary electric-drawing items when they aren't in use, particularly when away on extended trips from home. Lots of tips for conserving are available. Not all pertain to electricity, and some of those can be helpful in reducing winter's household costs, too.

The key is to remember to use only what is needed and be willing to share with those who might need help staying warm this winter.