Friday, January 06, 2012

Getting Thrifty: Losing Cable TV

Because we use an astounding amount of internet bandwidth we used to have a package deal that gave us unlimited internet bundled with phone and full cable television.  At the time it was the only way for me to stop paying overage fees, and actually saved us money. But as the world moved on our internet service provider added internet plans for people with very high usage and made them available without a bundle. 

We killed the landline phone that we never used any more, and got a great price on what we needed for internet throughput at a higher speed.  They still try to get you to bundle: for cable internet you either must have cable TV or pay a $9.99 "cable access fee". I decided I wanted to keep the local TV channels and chose their smallest TV package (all the local stuff plus 60 channels of music we never used) with an extra converter for upstairs to the tune of $33.06 per month.  Our overall savings was $60 a month including Netflix and the occasional Redbox rental, and we were pretty darn happy with that.  The moral of that story is call your provider occasionally and see if you can improve your services and what you pay. But I missed another savings opportunity.

The two GE antennas that worked for us.
What I misunderstood during the whole Digital Television Conversion a few years back was that television is still available for free over the air.  I somehow got the impression that you had to plug into cable TV to get it.  It's probably mixed up with the fact that in the old days this condo was in a TV reception hole and could only get two channels.  But when I saw a digital TV antenna on 1saleaday the penny dropped and I started researching. Several really good Amazon reviews and websites like killthecablebill helped me make my decision.

We can't have outside antennas here, so we needed something like rabbit ears.  I started by buying a $15 antenna just to see if we got any reception here, and to my joyful surprise it worked beautifully! The downstairs TV was harder to tune in so I bought a $20 antenna for that one.  I figured if needed I could return them for a slightly better one until I found an antenna that worked.

I paid $35 for two low-end GE antennas, and will save $23 a month in recurring cable costs.  And here's a bonus:  there are extra channels tucked in on the digital signals, so we actually gained channels. 

The little black square to the right is the antenna.  For some reason it works best with its back to the room.
Try it.  Go buy a cheap antenna and see if it'll work at all.  You can get help fine tuning your reception from this guide.  If it works you can join me in returning all the rented equipment to the cable company.

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