Published: Dec 07, 2010 7:48 PM EST
Updated: Dec 07, 2010 4:53 PM EST

FORT MYERS, FL – With temperatures dipping into the 30s, Southwest Florida residents are scrambling to stay warm.

Tuesday morning, LCEC recorded a noticeable spike in energy usage as thousands across the area woke up and turned on the heaters.  The company reported a 640 megawatt usage in the morning hours, noticeably higher than the highest amount used in November and even December of last year.

Experts remind you to be aware of how much energy you use, because you'll pay for it at the end of the month.

"It cost about two to three times more to heat your home than to cool it," LCEC spokesperson Karen Ryan told WINK News. 

"The key is, if you are using your heat, make sure your thermostat is set at 68 degrees," Ryan says.  "Every degree over 68 percent adds about 5% to your heating bill."

LCEC and FPL both offer other energy saving tips on their websites, www.lcec.net and www.fpl.com.

LCEC provided these additional tips to WINK News to help homeowners keep their electric bills under control this cold spell:

· Check the accuracy of your thermostat with an accurate thermometer. An improperly calibrated one can cause you to use more electricity without knowing it.

· Consider dressing warm in the morning until the sun warms your home naturally.

· Consider using a space heater for warming just the room that you’re in, instead of turning on central heat for the whole house. If you use a space heater, make sure it has built-in safety features such as a tip-over switch, overheat sensor, low surface temperature and protective screen or grill.

· Electric blankets may also be a cost-effective means of staying warm at night. Please use them safely. · Close your blinds once the sun sets to keep its heat inside, then open your blinds in the morning to allow the sunshine to reheat your home.

· Keep return air filters clean.

· Weather strip or caulk exterior cracks and holes.

· Check your attic insulation to be sure it is R30. It will prevent heat from escaping your home.