The arrival of cold weather brings a reminder from Missouri's AmerenUE that customers can use a comprehensive, Web-based energy efficiency program -- Energy Savings Toolkit -- to save energy. All a customer needs to do is register with and log on to http://www.ameren.com/ through the My Home link.
Once registered, the customer can move through a simple process to determine the factors behind specific bill differences on a month-to-month comparison.
These factors could be the weather, new appliances or just the number of days in the billing cycle. The program integrates these and other variables to calculate a customer's savings or costs for everything from installing insulation to buying new appliances.
The toolkit also allows customers to analyze their bills, calculate the savings potential of energy efficient appliances or find out what portion of their energy use goes to heating, cooling, laundry and other activities. Once customers know where energy is being used, they can learn ways to reduce energy costs. In fact, customers can even calculate what a new addition or some other change in their homes has cost -- or saved -- them.
Unlike many sites that require the visitor to answer a long questionnaire, the toolkit asks a few questions and offers immediate suggestions. It prompts the visitor to dig deeper only if he or she is not satisfied and chooses to learn more.
The site is also pegged to AmerenUE's actual rates, the weather patterns where the customer lives and that customer's actual usage. The comparisons offered are also those of similar real homes in a given area, based on AmerenUE rates and weather -- again, in the city or county where the customer actually lives.
The toolkit also includes an Energy Savings Tips Library where customers can become better-educated energy consumers. The library has tips for selecting, purchasing and installing heating and cooling systems, assessing the benefits of efficient lighting and water heating and efficiently storing and cooking food. It also offers a range of tips on weatherizing the home.
And to learn about the science, technology and even the history behind the energy industry, visitors to the site can go to the Ameren ENERGYsmart University. There they can learn more about energy sources, environmental impact and energy safety.
Visitors to Ameren Corporation's Web site can now pay their bills online, request a copy of a bill, view a range of billing information online, change a billing address, make rate calculations, check usage information and use the toolkit functions -- all with the click of a mouse. These "self-service" online features make it easier for customers to sign up for, turn on or turn off services.
"Since it was launched in 2004, this toolkit has educated and provided thousands of customers with a range of options and a sense of control over their energy bills," says AmerenUE Energy Delivery Senior Vice President Richard Mark. "Essentially this toolkit is targeted to help customers determine what they are getting for their energy dollar and whether there are ways they can reduce their energy costs.
"Ameren's goal with its Web site, and in particular with the customer portion of the site, is to be helpful, informative, fast and available to our customers when they need it. This service gives AmerenUE customers yet another reason to visit www.ameren.com."