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Good News from Ameren Illinois: Steady Natural Gas Prices for 2010-11 Heating Season
Utilities Offer Advice on Spending Less by Using Less

PEORIA, Ill.,  Oct. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- After seeing last winter's natural gas prices decline significantly from the levels of the previous winter, Ameren Illinois customers can expect a continuation of moderate natural gas prices during the upcoming 2010-11 heating season.

"We anticipate customer natural gas prices for this winter will be similar to prices paid last winter," said Ameren Illinois Vice President of Gas and Electric Technical Services Scott A. Glaeser. "This moderate trend is the result of the sluggish domestic and global economies coupled with soft worldwide demand for all forms of energy."

During the 2009-10 heating season, Ameren Illinois customers paid an average of $0.63 per therm. Ameren Illinois anticipates the 2010-11 heating season price to average $0.64 cents per therm.  

Glaeser also stressed that Ameren Illinois has secured adequate natural gas supplies to meet customer needs during the upcoming 2010-11 heating season. He noted that Ameren Illinois has the majority its natural gas supplies hedged or "price protected" for the upcoming winter to insulate customers from market volatility.

Ameren Illinois does not profit from the cost of natural gas paid by customers. Natural gas is an unregulated commodity which Ameren Illinois purchases from producers for delivery to customers.

"While the expectation of stable natural gas prices are welcomed, we recognize and continue to be concerned about the impact the cost of heating may have on our customers," Glaeser said. "We will continue to help our customers understand this issue and provide the information they need to better manage their energy usage."

Customers are encouraged to adopt proven energy conservation and efficiency practices that will help reduce bills without sacrificing personal comfort. Glaeser said the place to begin is by visiting ActOnEnergy.com to review Act On Energy® savings tips.

At ActOnEnergy.com, Ameren Illinois customers can learn about important cash incentives. For example, an Ameren Illinois customer can receive an incentive of up to $200 when installing a qualified high-efficiency natural gas forced air furnace.

An energy-efficient home provides a higher level of comfort and cost savings. Before making energy-saving upgrades to your home, find out if you qualify for special discounts through the Act On Energy Home Energy Performance (HEP) program. The HEP program offers incentives to registered Act On Energy Program Allies, which they pass on in cost savings to homeowners. Qualified measures include attic and wall insulation and air and duct sealing.

In addition to the ActOnEnergy.com website, residential customers may obtain complete Act On Energy information by calling 1-866-838-6918 or by sending an e-mail to: ActOnEnergyResidential@ameren.com.

Customers may enroll in the Budget Billing plan as a way to better manage their energy bills. This plan allows residential customers to pay the same amount each month. By enrolling now, customers can begin leveling out their monthly payments. The plan allows customers to pay an average monthly bill amount based on the last 12 months of usage. The payment level is periodically reviewed and adjusted as necessary. On the 12th month, the account is reviewed to calculate the difference between the amount of energy used during the year and the amount paid under Budget Billing. If the amount paid exceeds the actual cost of providing the energy, the customer receives a credit. If the amount billed is less than the actual cost of providing the energy, the customer is billed for the difference.

Customers may enroll in Budget Billing by visiting AmerenIllinois.com  or by calling 1-800-755-5000. Customers may enroll in the program or drop out at any time. There is no cost to enroll in Budget Billing.

Ameren Illinois has been providing energy delivery service for more than a century. We deliver energy to 1.2 million electric and 813,000 natural gas customers in Downstate Illinois, and our mission is to meet their energy needs in a safe, reliable, efficient and environmentally responsible manner. Our service area covers more than 1,200 communities and 43,700 square miles. For more information, visit AmerenIllinois.com

Heating Season Tips from Ameren Illinois

Saving Money Today

  • You may save 2 to 3 percent on your heating costs for each degree you lower your thermostat during the heating season.
  • Install a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust your home's temperature settings when you are away or sleeping. Ameren Illinois natural gas customers may visit ActOnEnergy.com or call 1-866-838-6918 for details on a $25 programmable thermostat incentive.
  • Never place a thermostat on an exterior wall where it may be affected by outdoor temperatures.
  • Regularly change or wash (depending on type) furnace filters. Most filters should be changed once a month. This is especially important if you have pets or live in a dusty area.
  • Take advantage of solar heat by opening curtains, blinds and shades on sunny days. Close curtains, blinds and shades at night.
  • Have your heating system checked and serviced by a professional before the start of the heating season. Improperly operating fossil fuel furnaces may pose serious health and safety hazards, as well as waste energy. Fireplace and wood-burning stove flues should be inspected and cleaned by a professional, as well. Install carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in your home, as required by state law.
  • Replace incandescent bulbs with ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). Unlike incandescent bulbs, CFLs emit little heat and last seven or more years. Ameren Illinois customers may purchase CFLs from participating retailers, online or by phone. For CFL details, visit ActOnEnergy.com, send an e-mail to ActOnEnergyResidential@ameren.com or call1-866-845-7085.
  • Use low-cost ceiling fans or other types of circulating fans. Fans help to evenly distribute air, eliminating both hot and cold spots.
  • When not in use, keep fireplace and wood stove dampers closed.

Look in on others

  • Check in on the elderly and those with medical conditions to make certain they are safe and comfortable.

Saving Money Tomorrow

  • There is no substitute for insulation. Add insulation if attic floor joists are visible. For information about discounts for attic and wall insulation, visit ActOnEnergy.com, call 1-866-838-6918 or send an e-mail to: ActOnEnergyResidential@ameren.com for details on the Home Energy Performance Program. This program also offers discounts for air and duct sealing.
  • Use of weather-stripping and caulking helps prevents drafts, keeping homes warmer while saving energy.
  • Make certain exterior doors have a tight fit.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR qualified label when buying appliances, lights, heating and cooling equipment, doors, windows, home electronic products, office equipment and more. With the help of ENERGY STAR, Americans in 2009 alone saved enough energy to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 30 million cars — all while saving nearly $17 billion on their utility bills. For information, call 1-888-782-7937 or visit: www.energystar.gov.
  • Significant savings can be realized by installing a high-efficiency heating system. An ENERGY STAR qualified high-efficiency heating system can save you up to 20 percent on energy costs. Visit ActOnEnergy.com to learn incentives.
  • The Ameren Illinois Utilities recommend customers enroll in the Budget Billing plan. This free service allows customers to pay the same amount each month of the year. For information or to enroll in Budget Billing, customers may call 1-800-755-5000 or visit ActOnEnergy.com.
  • Plant trees around the house. Trees substantially reduce energy use by shading roofs and walls from the summer sun and serving as a barrier against winter winds. For more information, visit MySafeTrees.com.

SOURCE Ameren Illinois