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Utility companies serving Mid-Missouri are asking customers to use resources wisely as winter storms and bitterly cold temperatures continue across the Midwest.

Ameren Missouri is encouraging customers to use natural gas conservatively.

"We suggest prudent use of natural gas given the low temperatures, which will also help customers save money during this extended cold period," said Pam Harrison, director of gas operations for Ameren Missouri.

The Energy.gov website recommends the following tips to reduce natural gas usage:

- Take advantage of the sun. Open curtains on south-facing windows during the day, and close them at night.

- Cover drafty windows.

- Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable.

- When you are asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat down.

- Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning.

- When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox.

- Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting.

Three Rivers Electric Cooperative is asking members to limit their electricity use as the co-op exceeds "all-time electricity demand," according to a Monday news release.

"High power consumption levels across the grid have the potential to cause intermittent service disruptions," the news release says. "Taking steps to decrease your power usage at this time will help while we navigate this extreme weather event."

Three Rivers offers these tips to reduce power usage:

- Turn down your thermostat a few degrees and use a blanket or warm clothing to help conserve and stay warm.

- Limit use of large appliances such as laundry or dishwashers.

- Use small kitchen appliances like toaster ovens, microwaves and slow cookers to make meals, rather than relying on your range or oven.

- Turn off and unplug space heaters you don't need to use.

- Keep fireplace dampers closed when not in use.

- Unplug and turn off unused electronics, chargers and lights.

If you lose power during a winter storm, Ameren Missouri encourages customers to remember:

- Call 911 then notify Ameren at 800-552-7583 if damage to power lines or electrical equipment occurs near your home.

- Charge cellphones in advance if there's a risk of severe weather. Consider buying a solar or battery-powered charger to use in case of an outage.

- Be cautious when using candles for light during a power outage. Blow out lit candles before leaving the room or going to bed. On average, 21 home candle fires are reported each day.

Prevent pipes from freezing by running faucets on a drip.

- Turn off light switches and unplug appliances to prevent damage and overloading circuits once the power is restored.

- Block cold air from coming in by stuffing towels along windows or underneath doors.

This article was updated at 3:25 p.m. Feb. 15, 2021, with additional information.

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