Once "inside" the Energy House, customers can click on different rooms to view a list of typical appliances and the estimated monthly energy cost associated with each. The calculation of the monthly energy cost for each appliance is based on potential average use.
"The average family spends $1,900 a year on energy bills, with the majority of that cost going to heating and cooling the home," said Ameren Chief Operating Officer Tom Voss. "However, a number of appliances add more to energy bills than many customers realize. With the Energy House tool, customers can determine which appliances are the biggest energy users in their home."
Another target for the new Web-based tools is "phantom load" \- electrical demand generated by appliances that consume energy even when they're not in use. The Web site includes a section devoted to phantom load, as well as many other energy-saving tips.
The average U.S. home has more than 25 appliances that operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This number is growing as consumers increase the number of new electrical devices they have in their homes.
Examples of phantom loads include CD and DVD players, microwaves, alarm clocks, computers, printers and television sets.
"Any appliance or charging device that has a cube-shaped transformer on the end of its cord is creating a phantom load," Voss said. "As a result, these technologically sophisticated kitchen or entertainment devices can add several dollars a month to your electricity bill. However, you can take some simple, low-cost steps to reduce or eliminate these phantom loads and save money." Voss recommends the following:
• Leave appliances that store settings or are inconvenient to switch off plugged directly to the wall or to a different outlet. Use power strips for as many of the other appliances as possible and flip the switch on the power strip to prevent devices from getting any power when not in use.
• Look for the ENERGY STAR(R) symbol when buying new appliances or electronics. A home fully equipped with ENERGY STAR(R) -qualifying products will operate on about 30 percent less energy than a house equipped with standard products, saving the typical homeowner about $400 each year.
• Remove unneeded nightlights.
Ameren, through its subsidiaries, serves 2.4 million electric and nearly one million natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area of Illinois and Missouri.
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