"We encourage our customers to use simple, proven energy conservation practices that will help them spend less by using less without sacrificing personal comfort," said Sean Vanslyke, manager of Community and Public Relations for the Ameren Illinois Utilities.
"For example, with the return of standard time most of us are using more indoor lighting. Customers can save up to $100 a year by replacing 20 standard incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights or CFLs. Customers can save even more with a special offer at https://www.actonenergy.com that reduces the purchase price of CFLs," Vanslyke said.
The Budget Billing 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.
"Budget Billing helps eliminate those seasonal variations in utility bills with a regular and predictable payment," Vanslyke said. "Plus, many of our customers save time and money by combining Budget Billing with one of our automated billing plans."
Customers may enroll in Budget Billing and get information about automated billing options by visiting Ameren's Web site (https://www.ameren.com) or by calling their Ameren Illinois Utilities company (AmerenCIPS: 1-888-789-2477, AmerenCILCO: 1-888-672-5252, and AmerenIP: 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.
To save money through conservation and energy efficiency, customers should visit the Ameren Illinois Utilities' Act On Energy Web site (https://www.actonenergy.net), where electric customers can purchase CFLs for as little as $1 each. Customers also can order bulbs by calling 1-866-807-1317. Electric customers can choose from 14 specially priced CFLs, ranging from mini-bulbs to globes. There are even three-way and dimmable CFLs, and outdoor CFLs designed to deter bugs.
Now also is a good time to take steps that can reduce heating bills. A good place to begin is by using caulk and weather stripping to block drafts. Furnaces and flues should be inspected and cleaned annually by a heating system professional.
Another way to save money is by setting 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.
Hot water usage can be reduced by using cold or warm water in the washing machine, a step that saves money and can extend the life of clothing. Get more life out of the water heater and reduce energy costs by periodically draining the tank to eliminate the buildup of sediment.
The Ameren Illinois Utilities deliver electricity and natural gas and do not mark up the energy supply costs for electricity or natural gas. The cost of energy combined with taxes may compose up to 70 percent of a residential customer's utility bill.