hd-antenna

Last week I wrote a review of the basic ADT home security. The last point about Evergreen Bills got me thinking, what other recurring service bills can I eliminate?

 

This is likely the most well known Evergreen Bill battle. There are popular movements out there called Beat the Cable Company and Cutting the Cord.

 

In July 2015, I partially cut the cord by canceling Cable. I was just frustrated by the biennial phone call to my cable provider trying to negotiate a new promotional period on our package; I think at this moment where I finally decided to do something about it the cost of cable internet was increasing from $150 to $210 per month. So I decided to look into alternatives and the HD Antenna was where I landed.

 

It took a bit of legwork to research if it was feasible to exist on this technology. I live in a fairly hilly city – Seattle – so signal strength could be an issue. BUT, the Federal Government came to the rescue! Yes, I actually said that. The FCC has an absolutely fantastic website for signal strength. FCC signal strength website Signal Strength Website. You enter your zip code and the site literally analyzes the terrain of where you live compared to the closest TV stations and will display the estimated strength of each channel (from strong to no signal). I was in luck as most of the channels were all in the green (strong) so I pressed forward.

 

I went on to everyone’s favorite online shopping website and purchased an HD Antenna. Here is one that is extremely reasonably priced and has great reviews: HD Antenna *note this is not the one I purchased. I have used the same one for 2 and a half years but is currently out of stock. Before buying, please continue to read because I have laid out some important notes below.

 

What’s important to note about an HD Antenna – like the one I gave in the example above – is that they will typically have a long coaxial cable and an amplifier to push the signal through. The amplifier is likely the most important component and here is why. YOU DO NOT NECESSARILY NEED TO PLUG THE HD ANTENNA DIRECTLY INTO YOUR TV. In a lot of newer homes (mine was built in 2005) there is a central networking box somewhere in your house. In that box, you can manage all of the cable connections in your house.

 

Okay, I’ll get to why this is relevant. I live in a three-story townhouse of which I have one TV on each level – all of them are close to the coaxial inputs. If I was going to do an HD Antenna set up, I didn’t want to have the ugly thing right next to our TV AND I wanted to avoid needing one for every TV.  Here is where the magic happened. I set up one HD Antenna on the top floor in the house – in a spot most people wouldn’t see it – close to a coaxial input on the wall. Then I plugged the coaxial cable into the coaxial input. From there, I went to the networking box I mentioned above and made that input act as the source of cable (same as you would do if you had a cable box). From there, I bought a cable splitter and routed the signal to both my downstairs and bedroom TV. I honestly had no idea if this was going to work. But I turned on both TVs, auto-programmed them and both worked flawlessly. I think I may have shed tears of joys when the signal came through clear.

The very next day I proudly called our cable provider and reduced our package to internet only.

Common Dad Shows you’ll likely continue to get through the HD Antenna

Assuming you get all the major basic cable networks through your new HD Antenna, you’ll be able to watch a lot of the shows you already enjoy. Here are some examples:

  • ABC
    • Modern Family
    • Likely a good amount of the NBA playoffs
  • CBS
    • The Masters
    • Sunday NFL games
    • Some Thursday Night Football games (when they aren’t on NBC or NFL network)
  • NBC
    • The Super Bowl
    • Sunday Night Football
    • The Olympics primary coverage
  • Fox
    • The World Series
    • Sunday NFL games
    • Family Guy
  • PBS
    • EVERYTHING! PBS is awesome

There are more channels which I won’t discuss, but every once in a while you’ll get some random, great movie or show.

The Sacrifice

As happy as I was, don’t think this move doesn’t involve sacrifices. It will be much harder for your wife to watch trashy shows on E! or for you to watch Monday Night Football (ESPN). You’ll need to come up with your own strategy to watch these things which for legality reasons I won’t comment on. The internet is a wonderful thing and you’ll have to get creative to watch the things you want to watch.

Additionally, you may have to watch a lot of shows live because you’ve given up cable company provided DVR. There are some alternatives though like this DVR designed for Over-the-Air HDTV (OTA) with WI-FI for Live TV Streaming: TABLO DVR. I have not tried one of these, but have friends that use them and they say they’re great.

The Savings

Though there is certainly sacrifices with this move, here is why you’re doing it. The Savings.

At the time I cut out the cable (July 2015), we were paying $151.12/mo for cable internet; our cable package included all standard cable channels like ESPN, FS1, TBS, TNT, etc but did not include premier channels like HBO or NFL Network. When we canceled cable, our bill reduced to $66.25 resulting in $84.87 of monthly savings. Our bill has increased slightly over time due to higher internet costs, fees, taxes, etc and our last bill as of January 2018 was $77.09.

But assuming there would have been a similar increase in the cost of cable, let’s just say I have saved $85 per month since July 2015. That is 31 months at $85/mo which equates to $2,635 of savings. You can certainly run your own models on how much you’d make investing that money instead of handing it over to the cable company. To me, the sacrifices of switching to HD Antenna are minimal compared to the benefit.

The Dadclusion

In the spirit of keeping more money in your pocket, have a look at what you spend every month on cable and how much benefit you get. Assuming you’ll get sign off from your wife, maybe the HD Antenna switch is right for you.

 

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