TECHNOBABBLE: Cutting the cord to help the environment

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TECHNOBABBLE: Cutting the cord to help the environment

I’ve talked before about the benefits of “cutting the cord,” that is, canceling your cable TV subscription but keeping your Internet connection. I cut the cord a few years ago and I find that I can see almost everything I want right away.

By Jason Ogaard | Posted: Saturday, December 27, 2014 4:03 am

I’ve talked before about the benefits of “cutting the cord,” that is, canceling your cable TV subscription but keeping your Internet connection. I cut the cord a few years ago and I find that I can see almost everything I want right away.

There are a few shows that I miss but I see them on Netflix later on. Everything else I can get over the air with an antenna. How many of you know that you can plug an antenna into your TV and get a lot of channels over the air for free? That’s actually how it worked before cable TV became the norm. I recently loaned an antenna to someone and they were surprised to get more than 40 channels in clear high-definition quality.

The reason I cut the cord is to save money every month. There’s a secondary benefit of giving less money to any of the cable TV providers who I dislike. But that’s not the point of this column. It turns out that my desire to save money has worked better than I thought it would.

About 10 years ago, cable boxes started including a digital video recorder (most know it as a DVR) so that you could pause, rewind and record television — a useful feature that I’ve used many times in the past. Using a DVR to record a show is called time shifting. Doing this allows you to watch TV on your schedule. The convenience is quite nice. But there’s a hidden cost that I never thought about and I doubt many people have.

A few years ago a study was done regarding the electrical usage of these cable/DVR boxes. That study shows that one cable/DVR box uses more electricity every year than a refrigerator. In fact, one cable/DVR box uses more electricity than any other household appliance except for the air conditioner. How many boxes do you have in your house?

It makes sense, too. These boxes are supposed to be always available. That means they’re always on. It’s always recording the current channel so that if you turn on the TV you can rewind it. You probably don’t know this but a DVR uses a regular hard drive to record TV. It’s the same piece of equipment that sits in your computer for storage of programs and files. When a hard drive is in use it is constantly spinning to allow data to be written to it. All that work requires a lot of electricity.

Another fact the study pointed out is that nearly two-thirds of the time that a DVR is on is wasted time. Do you watch any shows that are on while you’re at work? How about while you’re asleep? Those 2:30 a.m. infomercials might be good for poking fun at but I doubt many of you wake up in the morning and turn on your DVR to watch them.

The question to ask is: How much TV do you watch every day? I doubt it’s 24 hours worth of TV. In fact, it’s probably much much less. So do you really need a DVR to record 24 hours worth of TV every day?

I recently bought a computer whose only purpose is to be plugged into my TV so that I can watch shows over the Internet. The major TV networks (NBC, ABC, CBS and so on) have a section on their website that’s dedicated to the previous episodes of their TV shows. Unfortunately, their websites are the only place this is available. If you want to watch these shows on your tablet or Roku/Apple TV device you’ll have to pay money. The website is free. With my setup, I can watch TV on my TV without needing a DVR. When I’m not using my computer I put it to sleep and it uses almost no electricity until I wake it up again.

Plugging a computer into the TV is not going to be for everyone. Even if you end up paying for the TV services on a Roku/Apple TV device, there’s a good chance you’ll save a lot more than you pay for cable TV. There are many large communities on the Internet dedicated to cutting the cord. If you’re thinking about it, just Google that phrase and you’ll find a lot of resources. You won’t only be saving money on your cable bill but also on your electric bill. And you’ll help to reduce your energy consumption at the same time.

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Jason Ogaard is a software engineer who formerly lived in Hutchinson. He welcomes your technology questions, and he’ll answer them in this space. Please send your questions to technobabble@hutchinsonleader.com

Source: http://www.crowrivermedia.com/big_fish_lifestyle/living/article_a3ba87bb-ba81-5ffc-972a-66d6675046e6.html


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