Ameren’s website has an ‘Energy Awareness Toolkit’ which Spokesman Tim Fox says can give you some interesting information.

“You can log in and view your bill history but also your usage patterns. We’ve added a feature this year where you can see your usage for the previous five or six days and get an idea of when you’re using more electricity,” Fox says.

Kind of like checking your bank account or credit card online; there are no surprises when you get the bill next month. So you can see, day-by-day, when you used the most energy, figure out why you did, and what you can do to change it.

“It’s good, I think, just to be engaged with that and make the mental connection between, ‘Hey, what I do in my daily life has an impact on how much I pay on utilities and I can impact that.’ You can do very simple things to control your bill and be aware of your bill and head off those surprises,” Fox said.

October is energy awareness month, and Fox says the reason for that timing is pretty obvious.

“For the electric industry October is what we call a “shoulder” month. In other words, it’s a month where there’s not a whole lot of demand because you’re getting in to cooler temperatures. So it’s a good time to sort of sit back and take stock of where you are and make sure you have an energy efficient home as you gear up for the winter season,” Fox said.

He says there are a number of low-cost or no-cost options to increase energy efficiency in your home or business.

“The most obvious thing, of course, is to replace your filter on your air conditioner and heating unit regularly so that you can make sure those are operating at peak performance. Of course weather stripping, caulking or simply rolling up a towel and putting it under a door if you have a door that you can feel air coming through,” Fox said.

Ameren’s toolkit also has a number of other suggestions, and it links has information about programs to help pay for appliances.

AUDIO: Ryan Famuliner reports [1 min MP3]