Avoid auxiliary, emergency heat at home

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Many northeast Florida residents will be turning up the thermostat Thursday night to avoid the cold.

But if that's your plan, you might want to think twice before the red light for the auxiliary or emergency heat pops on.

"We want you only to change your thermostat one or two degrees at a time so you avoid the use of your auxiliary or emergency power," JEA spokeswoman Gerri Boyce said. "That is three times more expensive because those heat strips have to work really, really hard to heat that quickly."

JEA believes its biggest usage will probably be about 7 a.m. Friday, when temperatures will be the coldest.

Now would be a good time to go outside to protect some of those plants that started to bud because of the warm winter so far. Covering them with a sheet may not be good enough because of the wind overnight, which may blow it right off.

"This is the hardest thing for plants," said Larry O'Neil, of Larry's Garden. "Because we live in north Florida, when they go back and forth from 80 degrees and going down to 30, they don't have time to acclimate to that temperature change. There is going to be some damage if you don't take the precautions. Citrus, there will definitely be some damage."

O'Neil said to anchor the sheets or whatever you use to cover the plants, and you may want to lay down potted plants before you cover them because it's warmer on the ground and that will protect them even more.

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