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AmerenUE Helps Customers 'Bite Back' at the 'Dog Days' of Summer
Budget Billing, Tips, Even Gift Certificates Can Help You, Friends, Neighbors and Relatives 'Keep Cool'

ST. LOUIS, July 29 /PRNewswire/ -- With high humidity and temperatures forecasted to approach the 100-degree mark today, AmerenUE's energy experts would like to offer a number of tips for cost-effectively keeping cool this summer.

First, UE offers Budget Billing for customers who want the certainty of knowing how much their energy bills will be each month. Budget Billing "averages out" a customer's monthly bills to minimize the effect of higher prices or higher seasonal usage. Information about Budget Billing is available at http://www.ameren.com/.

UE 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.

Finally, this summer UE has joined forces with a network of social service agencies for an initiative called "Meet the Heat Head on," which promotes the need for safety during times of extreme heat and encourages customers to be "Heat Buddies" and check in on their elderly or disabled friends and neighbors. For more information about "Meet the Heat," call 1-800-427-4626, or use the United Way's new "211" system by dialing 211 for help locating financial assistance for utility bills.

Of course, the biggest cause of higher energy prices in the summer is the 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.

UE 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. If your air conditioner is in a sunny area, you can
     build a wood screen to shade 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
  -- 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 accurately.
  -- 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 (SEER) number -- the higher the SEER, the better. For residential central air conditioning units manufactured after Jan. 23, 2006, the minimum SEER allowed is 13. A unit with a SEER of 13 is 30 percent more efficient than a unit with a SEER of 10-the previous minimum standard. Energy Star® qualified units have SEER ratings of 13 or higher. 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 to help 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

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


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

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