Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Glorious weather leads to saving money

With the exception of a round of thunderstorms Tuesday night, we have been blessed with some seriously wonderful spring weather, and I've been doing everything except blogging.

You are probably wondering how nice weather leads to saving money, since most people do things that cause them to spend money. Well, one of the things the nice weather has done is keep me very busy, busy enough that I haven't had time to indulge in a certain guilty pleasure--watching TV in the evenings.

Like most people, we have cable and pay a pretty penny for it. But for several years, I've noticed that our TV viewing habits here at The Freehold were changing. Mrs. Freeholder watches primarily two things, "Ru Paul's Drag Race" (none of us get that one) and Atlanta Braves baseball in season. Son watches Netflix and Hulu Plus. Daughter is mostly the two cable cooking networks, with a couple of other cable network series and a lot of binge watching of series on Netflix. (The girl has a job, but she needs to land a position in her career field soon, and I'll leave it at that.) I watch the gun shows on Outdoor Channel (I know that's a shock) and since my "retirement" have been slowly working my way through "NCIS" on Netflix.

Out cable provider, Time Warner, soon to be Spectrum, also hauls our Internet traffic.

Seeing a pattern here? We're paying for something that we don't use much of. If I had been paying closer attention, I would have noticed that.

Que my email yesterday evening, which delivered the coming month's bill.  Which went up. By a third. This is after the previous month's bill, which had went up $16 due to the 4 little black decryption boxes we had to install last year when Time Warner encrypted their cable channels. At least they were "kind" enough to let us have them free for a year. Oh, and last month's bill was the end of our 1 year contract, and specifically noted that fact, and that our cable contract would be continued at the same rate.

Needless to say, I was unamused and called TW customer dis-service immediately. After the usual conversation with the first level person, who had no explanation for what was going on, I gave her my yearly ultimatum: "Figure out how to keep the bill level or you can cancel the cable and sell me Internet access only."

This method has worked for 6 years now. I get transferred to a higher level and they figure out a way. This year, apparently Spectrum has decided they have all the cable TV customers they need, because they didn't even try--they simply processed the cutoff order. When I arose this morning, the little black boxes were all blinking "no signal".

I'm cool with this. I spent yesterday evening profitably. I spent the first month's savings ordering an outdoor TV antenna, so we can get all the local channels, something like 32, over the air. I already have a good distribution system in the house, so all I need to do is mount it and run the cable to the distribution point.

I also didn't miss watching TV on the last night of cable. Oddly enough, no one else watched any, either.

I've built a spreadsheet that compared the service we had with online services from SlingTV, Playstation Vue and DirecTV Now. Not only should we be able to get nearly if not all the content we really watched from cable, but we'll get some new content that may be interesting, and it's all less expensively and without a contract. Most of the services will throw in any device you need to access them for free or at a cut rate as a bonus.

While pulling all the TW devices I need to return (4 decryptors and a DVR), something else struck me and I did some math. We were using a bit over 12 kilowatt hours of electricity per day to keep all that stuff powered. Extend that out to year and it's just short of 4400 kilowatt hours, which is roughly 2 months of our total electricity usage. Think on that concept a second. For us that's well over $300 of electricity per year just to keep all those devices powered on.

All that money for something we really didn't use that much. Damn, but that irritates me. It also motivates me to start checking all the other "vampire loads" around the house and see what can be done about disabling them.

It appears that I'm going to save around $700/year, which isn't a huge amount of money, but it's something. For some folks, it is a huge amount. Spent wisely, it could be a huge amount of beans, bullets or bandaids for you prepping stocks.

You have to love beautiful spring weather.