We're heading into peak air conditioning season, and that means electricity bills will be at their peak, squeezing consumers. But there are a few easy ways to save on your energy bill and some good investments to make that profit from high energy costs. Let's start with some easy ways to save money this month.
Adjust your thermostat
Turning your set temperature up when you leave the home can save money without sacrificing comfort. This can be done manually, but a programmable thermostat can be set to lower energy use while you're at work during peak energy times and turn your air conditioning back on before you get home. Honeywell (NYSE:HON) sells thermostats that can not only be programmed by day and time, but you can also access them through a smartphone app. Adjusting your home's temperature to 78 degrees during the day versus 73 degrees can save 30% on your energy bill, so this is a quick fix that you may not even notice.
Throw out old light bulbs
Replacing old incandescent or halogen light bulbs with CFL or LED lights can also save you money in two ways. They use less energy to light a room, but they also generate far less heat than traditional bulbs. In fact, 90% of the energy used by old bulb technology generates heat, not light. Energy Circle did a test of three types of lights, finding that halogen lights ran at 327 degrees, CFLs were 167 degrees, and an LED light was 107 degrees. The cost savings of replacing light bulbs goes far beyond the lower wattage in the bulb itself; it puts less stress on your air conditioner as well.
Move that furniture
Finally, rearranging furniture can save you money on air conditioning without costing you a dime. Vents can often wind up under a sofa or beneath a dresser, which keeps those items nice and cool but wastes energy cooling your home. Check where your vents are and make sure they allow free air flow and you'll save a few dollars on your next electric bill.
Investing in energy
If you're even more ambitious than making these small changes there are a few other ways to you can save money, or even make money when energy costs are high. The first is by going solar. Sunrun, SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR), and SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY.DL) have wide networks of installers that will install solar panels on your roof for $0 down and at a lower cost than your electricity rate. In short, for nothing more than some rooftop space you can save money on your electricity bill every month.
Another way to profit from high electricity usage is to buy companies that profit from electricity prices by owning power-generating assets. NRG Energy (NYSE:NRG) has both utility and power generation assets and is one of the largest solar power owners in the world. Exelon (NYSE:EXC) is another power generator that pays investors back with a solid 4% dividend yield. As power usage rises and prices go up these companies make money for those who own their stocks.
Fool contributor Travis Hoium manages an account that owns shares of SunPower. He also owns shares of SunPower and has long January 2015 $5, $7, $15, and $25 calls on SunPower. The Motley Fool recommends Exelon. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.