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Ameren Illinois Utilities Offer Easy Ways for Consumers to Reduce Energy Bills

PEORIA, SPRINGFIELD and DECATUR, Ill., Dec. 13 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Everyone wants to save money on their energy bills, but some people may hesitate to take action because they may believe conservation steps are difficult, costly to implement or cause discomfort.

In reality, the experts point out consumers can easily conserve energy this winter without sacrificing comfort or spending much money.

The Ameren Illinois utilities suggest the place to begin is the home's heating system. Furnaces should be checked annually by a heating professional, who will make certain the unit is operating efficiently and safely. In addition, furnace filters should be changed regularly, usually once a month.

  Other energy saving tips include:

  -- Check the home to find the places where cold air is entering. On a
     windy day, an adult should hold a lighted incense stick next to
     windows, doors, electrical outlets and other locations where outside
     air can enter. Air leaks are found when the incense smoke moves
     horizontally. Most leaks can be sealed with an inexpensive tube of
     silicone caulk. Weather stripping should be used for doors. Metal
     weather stripping with a vinyl backing is recommended for its
     durability and flexibility. To reduce air infiltration through outside
     wall electric outlets, install thin foam gaskets. A well sealed home
     not only reduces energy bills, but is more comfortable.
  -- Consider setting the thermostat a little lower during the winter. For
     each degree it is lowered, a consumer can save 2 to 3 percent on
     heating costs. Some consumers maximize savings by setting the
     thermostat at a lower setting when they are sleeping or away from home.

     Many find that programmable thermostats help reduce heating costs by
     allowing better control of the settings.
  -- Adding some humidity to a home will increase comfort. Inexpensive
     humidifiers can be purchased a hardware and home improvement stores. An

     economical way to add humidity is to leave bathroom doors open after
     showering and leave exhaust fans off when boiling liquids in the
  -- Take advantage of free energy from the sun. On bright days, open
     blinds, shades or draperies on the sunny side of the house to let in
     solar heat. Close them at night to help keep heat from escaping.
  -- Use circulating fans - especially ceiling fans - to circulate warm air
     and keep it from gathering near the ceiling. It is suggested that
     ceiling fans be set to run counterclockwise during the heating season.
  -- Consider closing off areas of a home that are infrequently used. Close
     registers in those areas.
  -- In homes with fireplaces or wood-burning stoves, make sure the unit's
     damper is completely closed when not in use to prevent costly heat
  -- Set the water heater temperature at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or on "low."

     Using this setting can reduce annual energy costs by 3 to 5 percent.
     When away from home for an extended period of time, select the
     "vacation" setting if the unit is so equipped. Reduce hot water usage
     by using cold or warm water in the washing machine, a step that saves
     money and extends the life of clothes. Get more life out of the water
     heater and reduce energy costs by periodically draining the tank to
     eliminate the buildup of sediment.
  -- Turn off incandescent lights when leaving a room. Turn off fluorescent
     lights when leaving a room for 15 minutes or longer.
  -- Turn off televisions, computers, printers and other equipment when not
     in use. Unplug cell phone chargers once the phone is recharged.

For more energy saving tips, visit the Ameren Web site (http://www.ameren.com/), select "My Home" and then "Energy Savings Tips."

The Ameren Illinois utilities serve 1.2 million electric and more than 840,000 natural gas customers in a 43,700-square-mile area of Illinois.

SOURCE: Ameren Illinois Utilities

CONTACT: Leigh Morris, +1-217-535-5228, or Erica Abbett,
+1-618-236-4329, or Natalie Hemmer, +1-217-424-7541, or Neal Johnson,
+1-309-677-5284, all for Ameren Illinois Utilities

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