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AmerenUE Offers Tips To Help Customers Prepare For Heating Season

ST. LOUIS, Oct. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- AmerenUE is reminding customers that weatherization and other energy efficiency measures will again be important this winter.

To help customers understand where their energy dollars go, AmerenUE offers a "Natural Gas Center" on its Web site, http://www.ameren.com/. The Natural Gas Center contains many features to help customers understand and manage their winter energy costs, including:

  -- AmerenUE's popular "Cut Your Home Utilities Bill" poster, which
     provides room-by-room tips for reducing energy costs;
  -- Links to other energy saving tips; and
  -- The latest information on the many factors that affect the wholesale
     cost that AmerenUE pays for natural gas for distribution to its

The value of natural gas is determined in a free market, where supply and demand set current and future gas prices. AmerenUE passes these natural gas prices on to customers, dollar-for-dollar, through the Purchased Gas Adjustment (PGA) without any "markup."

For customers who want to ease the impact of typically higher winter bills, AmerenUE offers the Budget Billing plan that "averages out" a customer's monthly bills to minimize the effect of higher prices or higher seasonal usage. For information, customers can call AmerenUE at 800-552-7583, or visit the Ameren Web site (http://www.ameren.com/).

AmerenUE also works with customers who need to establish a payment plan and provides referrals for energy assistance. Customers who may be experiencing a problem with a bill payment are urged to immediately contact AmerenUE. In addition, the company's Dollar More program enables customers and employees to help the needy stay warm. Visit the Ameren Web (http://www.ameren.com/) site for full information.

AmerenUE residential energy experts say lifestyle, family size, the number of appliances, quality of home construction and degree of weatherization are the key factors that affect winter energy bills. The most effective action a resident can take to reduce energy use is to weatherize a home for comfort and efficiency.

  The energy experts offer these suggestions for home weatherization:
  -- Have your furnace checked for safety and efficiency before the start of
     the heating season. Changing furnace filters regularly also helps.
     Filters should be changed more frequently if there are pets in the
     home. Using a humidifier can help residents feel comfortable at lower
     thermostat settings. Residents should consider replacing old,
     inefficient furnaces, water heaters and other natural gas appliances
     with newer high-efficiency models.
  -- Installing storm windows and caulking are the best ways to reduce the
     infiltration of cold air. Caulking is economical and easy to use.
     Generally, one tube of caulking is enough to weatherize at least one
     average size window. The most durable caulking contains silicone.
  -- For doors, try weather stripping to keep cold air from entering the
     home. Weather stripping materials include metal, vinyl, rubber and
     foam. Metal with vinyl backing is recommended because of its durability
     and flexibility.
  -- Set the thermostat a little lower. For each degree it is lowered, you
     can save 2 to 3 percent on heating costs. For maximum efficiency,
     experts generally recommend a setting of 68 degrees during the day and
     60 degrees overnight (but don't set the thermostat too low, or pipes in
     exterior walls could freeze). Programmable thermostats can help reduce
     heating costs by allowing better control of the settings.
  -- On sunny days, open blinds, shades or draperies on the sunny side of
     your house to let in solar heat. Be sure to close them again at night,
     to help keep heat from escaping.
  -- Use ceiling fans -- especially in homes with high ceilings -- to push
     warm air down and keep it from being wasted near the ceiling. Fans
     should be set to run counterclockwise during the heating season.
  -- Adding insulation to attics and walls can be a significant energy-saver
     if your home was built many years ago when efficiency standards were
     lower. Either blown or blanket insulation holds heat so a furnace
     doesn't have to operate as long. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
     recommends an R-49 insulation level for attics.
  -- An insulating blanket on water heaters reduces energy waste from the
     unit. Wraparound hot water pipe insulation retards heat loss as water
     travels through cooler or unheated areas of the house. Water heater
     life will be extended and efficiency improved by periodically draining
     the tank to eliminate the buildup of sediment.
  -- Close off areas of your home that are infrequently used.  Close
     registers in those areas.
  -- Be sure the damper is closed when you're not using the fireplace. Glass
     doors for fireplaces save energy and heat by keeping cold air from
     coming down the flue and preventing warm air from being sucked out of
     the house. Without glass doors, as much as 26 percent of the heated air
     can be drawn up the flue.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 makes federal tax credits available for numerous home improvements designed to increase energy efficiency. Federal tax credits may be earned by installing qualified insulation materials, replacement windows and exterior doors. Additional information is available at the Energy Star® Web site (http://www.energystar.gov/).

St. Louis-based AmerenUE serves 1.2 million electric and natural gas customers in Missouri. The Ameren companies serve 2.4 million electric customers and nearly one million natural gas customers across 64,000 square miles of Missouri and Illinois.


CONTACT: Susan Gallagher, +1-314-554-2175, or Mike Cleary,
+1-573-681-7137, both for AmerenUE

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