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AmerenUE Offers Tips for Keeping Cool in Major Heat Wave

ST. LOUIS, Aug. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- With temperatures likely to hit over the 100 degree mark this week, AmerenUE's energy experts are concerned about the costs of keeping cool and have a number of tips for cost-effectively keeping cool this summer. Today 72 percent of American homes have air conditioners, with about 8 million new air conditioners sold in the United States annually.

Air conditioners also lead to higher energy costs. Remember these energy facts to help control costs:

  -- 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 and monthly throughout the summer.  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 required.
  -- 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 we find that 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.

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.

For customers who expect to have problems paying bills, AmerenCILCO, AmerenCIPS, AmerenIP and AmerenUE offer plans that "average out" a customer's monthly bills to minimize the effect of higher prices or higher seasonal usage. For information, visit the Ameren Web site http://www.ameren.com/.

AmerenUE serves 1.2 million electric and 125,000 natural gas customers in Missouri. Ameren companies serve 2.4 million electric customers and nearly one million natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area of Missouri and Illinois.


CONTACT: Susan Gallagher, +1-314-206-0646, or Tim Fox, +1-314-554-3120,
for St. Louis Area, or Outstate Missouri, Mike Cleary, +1-573-681-7137, all of

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