PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — As a heatwave drives higher energy demand, Ameren Illinois is sharing ways that residential customers and small businesses can conserve energy.

Leaders with Ameren Illinois said that while conditions are tight, they have prepared load reduction plans to prevent outages for residential customers, healthcare facilities, and other critical customers.

However, energy customers are being asked to conserve their usage.

WAYS TO CONSERVE ENERGY WITHIN YOUR HOME OR BUSINESS

· Stay in the shade: Use curtains and blinds to block out direct sunlight, especially during the hottest part of the afternoon. Keeping curtains and drapes closed can help reduce the heat indoors by 33%.

· Feel the breeze: Use ceiling or other fans in addition to the air conditioner to help keep cool air circulating. Remember to set the ceiling fan’s blades to spin counterclockwise to create a cool breeze. Supplementing the air conditioner with a ceiling fan enables you to set the thermostat about 4 degrees higher without affecting your comfort.

· Clean out air conditioner filters: Well-maintained HVAC units are less likely to fail during months of hard use in the summer. Cleaning out ducts and changing air filters can keep your HVAC system running efficiently.

· Reduce hot water use: Take shorter showers and use bathroom exhaust fans to remove the heat and humidity. Make sure bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans are vented to the outside, not the attic, to keep the warm air out.

· Concentrate your AC: When it is too hot to use fans, try to concentrate your air conditioning flow to the rooms or areas of your home that you use the most.

Ameren Illinois also offers free home assessments, where a professional will come to your home and identity ways to improve efficiency.

“They’re looking at the energy usage, so they’re going to talk to you about that. They’re going to talk to you about health and safety, different savings that are available to you, in terms of what’s going on in your home, and then different products available to you,” said Stephanie Robinson, energy efficiency consultant with Ameren Illinois.

For more on energy-saving tips, click here.