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Ameren Offers Tips For Keeping Cool
Gift Certificates Available to Help Needy Friends, Neighbors or Relatives

ST. LOUIS, July 18 /PRNewswire/ -- With high humidity and temperatures forecasted to approach the 100-degree mark today, AmerenUE's energy experts are concerned about the costs of keeping cool, and they have a number of tips for cost-effectively keeping cool this summer.

The company also reminds its customers that energy gift certificates are a great way to help friends, neighbors or relatives who may be concerned about paying their utility bills. Gift certificates in $10, $25, $50, $75 and $100 denominations can be purchased at Ameren's Web site, http://www.ameren.com/, or by calling 877.770.4438.

AmerenUE also offers Budget Billing for customers who expect to have problems paying bills. Budget Billing will "average out" a customer's monthly bills to minimize the effect of higher prices or higher seasonal usage. Information about Budget Billing is also available at http://www.ameren.com/.

The biggest cause of higher energy prices in the summer is electricity used to power air conditioning. Today, 72 percent of American homes have air conditioners, with about 8 million new air conditioners sold in the United States annually.

AmerenUE urges its customers to keep these energy facts in mind as they use air conditioners this season:

   -- To cool your house efficiently, your air conditioner needs to be cool
      itself.  Keep it in the shade.  If your air conditioner is already in
      the sun, you can build a wood shade screen for it -- just don't block
      the air flow.
   -- If you have central air conditioning, cool only the rooms you use.
      But don't close all your vents.  Closing too many vents actually
      reduces operating efficiency.
   -- Turn the air conditioner thermostat up when you leave the house for
      several days or longer.
   -- Don't switch your air conditioner to a colder setting when you turn it
      on.  Constantly moving the thermostat up and down throughout the day
      wastes energy and money. Placing the thermostat at extremes won't cool
      your home any faster; it only makes your system work harder.
   -- Set the thermostat as high as possible.  The recommended energy
      efficient summer temperature is 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
   -- Where your thermostat is located sometimes determines how well it
      operates.  It should never be placed on an exterior wall, where it
      would be affected by the hot or cold outdoor temperatures.  Appliances
      that give off heat -- like lamps -- should be kept away from the
      thermostat to ensure that the instrument senses the temperature
   -- To clean your thermostat, gently blow out any dust or lint.  Because
      it is a delicate instrument, it should be cleaned gently.  If your
      thermostat is 10 years old or older, you might replace it with a newer
      model that is more accurate and efficient.
   -- Consider placing a timer on your room air conditioner or using a
      programmable thermostat on your central air conditioner.  Hardware
      stores sell timers and programmable thermostats that will
      automatically start your air conditioner before you get home.
   -- You can save energy by taking care of air conditioner coils.  They
      won't work efficiently unless they are clean, so check them out every
      spring.  If they are dusty, dirty or clogged with old leaves, you can
      vacuum them with your household vacuum cleaner.  If the attachment on
      the vacuum cleaner won't fit between the coils, reverse the air flow
      and blow the dirt away instead.
   -- Don't forget to check your filter at the beginning of the cooling
      season.  A clogged filter will use up to five percent more energy than
      a clean one.  Remove the filter and try to look through it at a bright
      light.  If you cannot see light easily, clean or replace the filter.
   -- Permanent filters can be cleaned according to the manufacturer's
      instructions; disposable filters should be replaced every month or two
      while the unit is in use.
   -- Keep the heat out by drawing shades and curtains on hot days.
   -- If you have exhaust fans in your bathroom, laundry and kitchen, use
      them to help reduce the humidity burden on your air conditioner.
      These fans should not be used continuously, but periodically, as
   -- Help protect the ozone layer by repairing leaks in home and auto air
      conditioning systems.

When purchasing central air conditioners or window units, buyers should look for the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio number (SEER). The higher the SEER, the better: a SEER greater than 12.0 is considered efficient. The energy savings can be substantial. A central air system with a SEER of 12.0 will use 33 percent less energy than a system with a SEER of 8.0. If you double the efficiency of your home cooling system, you'll cut your cooling costs in half. That's why customers who have switched to high efficiency heating and cooling systems find that the upgrade pays for itself in time. But it's important to select the unit that matches your needs. Measure the area you want to cool, count the windows and doors and ask your dealer for suggestions.

Finally, there is no substitute for insulation in helping you save energy. Use of weather-stripping and caulking prevents outside air infiltration. In addition, simple things like making certain exterior doors have a tight fit, insulating between rafters, walls and floors and in basements can make a difference. Consider replacing old windows. Storm or dual-glazed windows can reduce heat gain by as much as 50 percent. They often pay for themselves within five years.

  For homes without air conditioning:

   -- During the heat of the day, avoid activities that would add heat and
      humidity to your home.
   -- For maximum efficiency and comfort, position the fan to blow air out
      of the house during daylight hours and pull cooler air into the house
      after dark.  For a window fan to work properly there should always be
      another window open in the area the fan is meant to ventilate.

With 1.2 million customers, AmerenUE is Missouri's largest electric company and third largest provider of natural gas. Ameren, through its operating companies, serves 2.4 million electric and 1 million natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area of Illinois and Missouri.


CONTACT: Susan Gallagher, +1-314-554-2175, or Tim Fox, +1-314-554-3120,
both of AmerenUE

Web site: http://www.ameren.com/