We are now home for the summer and celebrating Independence Day by celebrating our independence from pay TV, which will save us $900 per year! A 12% increase in our cable bill this winter motivated us to take stock of our TV viewing habits, preferences, and the costs for pay TV, which led to an exploration of alternatives.
We are happy with the high-speed internet service provided by our cable company, but we were not happy to pay $75/month for cable TV and TV fees for the 75 or so channels that we mostly don’t watch, except for a few such as PBS, CBS, and MSNBC. We first explored the possibility of selecting a more economical package, a lower tier of channels that included our favorites. I was surprised that our cable company told us that to go to the next lower tier, we would need their cable TV box that would filter out channels that we would not be paying for. But we did not want to rent a cable box, especially after recent reports that they are high energy users.*
We then explored the over-the-air (OTA) TV option by using TV Fool’s TV Signal Locator tool to determine what broadcast TV signals are available in our area. Once we realized that we could watch PBS via KPBS-HD, CBS via KFMB-DT, and other high-definition channels for free (and our favorite MSNBC shows, such as The Rachel Maddow Show could be viewed the next day on the internet), we used AntennaWeb’s tool to determine the proper antenna type for our viewing preferences, which turned out to be a small multidirectional antenna. We chose the Mohu Leaf 50™ Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna.*
The test was to see if we could actually wean ourselves from cable TV, so we disconnected our cable TV coax and connected our Mohu Leaf antenna that was hung high on our living room window. We were thrilled that this antenna picked up OTA high-definition broadcasts that often had better quality images than seen via our cable TV service, such as SpongeBob SquarePants broadcast by XHGC-HD.
Of course, it helps that we are on a hill and not far from one of three local TV broadcast towers. We kept the antenna connected to our now cable-free TV for a month to prove to ourselves that we were not addicted to cable TV before actually discontinuing our cable TV service. It was easier for us since we are not avid sports fans and can be satisfied by content provided by PBS, CBS, and other local TV stations.
We then discontinued our cable TV service and bought another Mohu Leaf antenna and a Mediasonic HW180STB Homeworx HDTV Digital Converter Box for our older, analog TV in the bedroom. (The converter box is turned off when not in use to keep it cool and to save on energy costs. It can also be brought into the trailer to enable our older TV to receive digital broadcasts.)
We now enjoy TV for free as it was meant to be when I was growing up and watching The Howdy Doody Show.* Howdy Doody is always on (or nearby) the TV in our Airstream Safari trailer!
And, as Whispering Jack Smith sings,
*This is a link to a YouTube video.