Archive for 2013

How to Eliminate your Cable Bill

A while back I devised a little scheme that allowed me to live without cable. It's slightly more technical. It doesn't require you to have a profound knowledge of electronics and computers, but a basic knowledge of these things does help during the setup process.

Before we get started, I want to note a few things. I can't speak for everyone, because I know that cable rates vary from region to region. In my area, cable runs about $40 plus, on a monthly basis. It doesn't sound like a lot of money, but when you tack that in on top of hundreds of dollars worth of other expenses, it starts to add up. There is a lot that you can do with an extra $40 dollars a month. Or, even better, $480 a year! Definitely a step in the right direction to live free!

Now, with that said, let's get started!

What you will need:

A computer that supports either SVideo or HDMI outputs.
A Television that supports either SVideo or HDMI inputs.
HDMI or SVideo cable
An internet connection running to the PC.

Note: optionally, you could always purchase a newer tv that comes equipped with internet capabilities. This really depends on the level you intend to take this too. You'll understand what I mean here in a few minutes.

All you need to do is pick whether you want to run your connection through HDMI, or SVideo. If your using an older computer that you just have lying around, like I did, you'll most likely end up running SVideo. If your running a newer PC, you'll most likely end up with HDMI. In my opinion, if it's in your power to do this using an HDMI hook up, then go for it. The quality will be a million times better this way.

Connect your PC to your TV using your preferred method.

Make sure you have a reliable internet connection running to the PC.

Believe it or not, as far as setup, you're done.

Now that you have everything setup, you need to decide what kind of functionality you want it to have. There are tons of websites where you can watch movies for free. Youtube is another option. If you want to spend just a little bit of money every month, you can go for netflix, which will allow you to watch a lot of the same stuff that you can on cable for a fraction of the cost. There are literally hundreds of options.

Another thing that I did was downloaded video game emulators. This allowed me to play some of the older video games that you can't really find anymore. There are literally tons of things that you can do with this system now to enhance your experience.

Also, you might consider a few different types of software to change your experience. My personal favorite is XBMC. It was originally designed as a media player for Xbox game consoles, but was soon ported to PC. You can easily integrate all of your video and music files for use in XBMC. It also has an option to stream shows and movies from online broadcasts. It really is a total package and it's 100% FREE. Check it out here: XBMC

That's it for cable bills. I hope at least a handful of people will be intrigued by this and at least try it out. If you do try it out, please come back to this page and let us know about your experience. Live Free!
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Posted by Matthew Brown

DIY Green Energy

Anyone who is familiar with green energy, and the go green movement, knows that right at the forefront of this epic battle against high cost energy and the damage that we are doing to the planet, is alternative energy solutions like Solar energy and Wind Energy.

The real problem with these alternative energy solutions is that they can be quite expensive to put together and deploy. In some cases, a full on solar energy set up that would take you off of the standard electrical grid, could cost you $20,000 plus. In the long run, these systems take 18 plus years to pay for themselves. When you break it down, it just isn't worth the money. That's no way to live free.

But finally, someone has released a very reliable method that teaches you how to make your own solar panels. It's not as daunting as it sounds. It's really quite easy if you follow the instructions of this book. With this method you can fully run your home on solar energy for a fraction of what it would cost to have all this done professionally.

This book will show you how to build and deploy your own solar panels. It will also teach you the ins and outs of constructing your battery banks. It really goes in depth and walks you through the whole process, front to back. I believe now, they are offering up video tutorials that come with the book as well, for those of you who are like me, and learn better from watching someone do it, then reading and staring at pictures.

If you want to completely eliminate your monthly utility bills, and live free, this is where you need to be. By creating a solar energy system large enough to power your whole house, you can remove yourself from your electrical suppliers grid. What are you waiting for? Click Here to get this book and take the next step on your quest to live free!

Save up to 50% on your Monthly Utility Bills

When I first dreamed up this blog, I had a few mission objectives in mind. These were objectives that I knew I had to accomplish in order for this blog to be what I wanted it to be.

1. I wanted to teach people the art of saving money by going green.
2. I needed to show people that there was a better way of doing things then what society and big business will have us know.
3. I wanted to give people an outlet that they can rely on time and time again to deliver them priceless information that could really help them change their own lives as well as the people around them, and possibly with enough participation, the world.
4. I needed to teach people how to live free.

With that said, I want to introduce to you, my loyal readers, a very valuable book that I found recently. I'm not going to sit here and try to pitch the book to you like some kind of a salesman. Instead, I will just give you a run down of what the book is about, and then you can decide for yourself it is worth your time and energy.

This is an excerpt from the books website:

Here's What You'll Learn...

  • Dispel the myths about alternative energy sources - save money by spending the least and getting the biggest energy savings.
  • Learn the right choices for your particular home and budget.
  • The Energy Audit - find out if you really need one.
  • Insulation Secrets - even if you think you know a lot about insulation, you're in for a real surprise.
  • Heating & Cooling are usually the biggest energy costs in your home. Slash your costs without replacing your furnace and air conditioner.
  • Hot water for cheap - learn what really works to save up to 70% on hot water costs.
  • If you have Energy Star appliances, that is a good start, but I'll show you how to save even more.
  • Everyone is switching to CLF's (compact fluorescent lights) to save money on lighting. Learn what lighting technologies use even less power.
  • And DOZENS more tips and recommendations, including little known secrets that will help you keep more money in your pocket.
  • PLUS - I'll show you how to pay for all your home improvements without touching a single penny of your primary income!
Hows that sound? The reason I decided to share this book with you, well, besides the fact that it really does help you save up to 50% on your monthly utility bills, is that it really shares the same general theme as this website. This book isn't geared to give you more useless information. It's designed to give you top notch information, and it's going to show you ways to pay for the methods it describes, without dipping in to your wallet. Now, who wants to truly begin to live free?
If you are interested in this great book, Click Here!

12 Easy Ways to Go Green

In this day and age, we all live a very fast paced life. Therefor, we have become accustomed to paying more for convenience. Everything comes in plastic manufactured and designed to store and preserve the freshness of the things we buy. Foods are sprayed with preservatives, chemicals, pesticides, and many other dangerous things, in an effort to offer a shelf life longevity that keeps things readily available for the mindless consumer that today's society not only created, but encourages.

We are seemingly eager to ingest things that are terrible not only for our bodies but for the earth it's self. We fill our houses with products that are draining the earth of it's resources at an alarming rate, and then in return putting further strain on it by being tossed into landfills, burned, and other nefarious disposal methods. This is no way to live free.

If you are like me, time is a commodity. Juggling work and family, and a ton of other things, it's easy to get roped into the frenzy of microwavable meals, and everything being wrapped in plastics, for your convenience. But, I assure you, if your goal is to truly live free, then this is the exact opposite of the way you want to live.

Now, when I first decided that it was my personal responsibility to be cautious of the things that I do and the impact my actions had, whether positive or negative, it all seemed a little overwhelming. There are literally millions of ways to go green. It's easy to get overwhelmed and want to back out to the comfort of the familiar.

The best thing you could possibly do to go green, is START SMALL. Make little easy changes, that aren't complicated, and are easily adaptable into your daily routine.

The ideas in this go green video are great for getting started on your path to live free. I highly recommend that you try at least a few of them. It really is a good jump point on your quest to live free.
Monday, April 8, 2013
Posted by Matthew Brown

Save Major $$$ Growing Your Own Produce

A while back I found myself pacing around the produce section at my local grocery store. I found it very hard to believe how much they were asking for fruits and vegetables. I remember not so long ago, when produce was the cheap part of grocery shopping. Now, it seems as though you could go broke just buying enough fruit to last your family through the week.

So, I set out on a journey cut this expense down as much as possible. My final conclusion was to grow some of this stuff myself. I mean, what better way is there, really? Now, not only do I spend a whole lot less at the grocery store, but I know what I'm getting. I can guarantee that there are no pesticides or anything like that, because I don't use them.

I bought a small greenhouse. One of the ones with the peat moss pellets and a clear plastic dome. Simple, but effective! These things are amazing for getting your garden off to a strong start. I also bought a grow light from Walmart, as I intend on keeping this herb garden right in the kitchen on a big piece of open counter space that never gets used. Anyways, I decided to start with herbs. We do a lot of cooking around my house, and we love our herbs and spices. So I picked a handful of the stuff that we use the most, which included oregano, parsley, cilantro, basil, etc. Then I got to work.

I planted a handful of each type of plant. Within just a few days we started to see a lot of the pellets sprouting. After a while I ended up buying a bunch of Styrofoam cups to transplant them over. This is just to give them a little more room to root and such. This is where I'm at right now with these. In a few days I'm going to transplant them all into a long wide tray type planter. At that point, I will update this post with pictures of what I've got going on.

After a while of watching how well these herbs were growing, I decided to move on to something else. I went and grabbed some tomato, habanero pepper, and California wonder pepper seeds. I bought a replacement pack for the greenhouse, which is pretty much just the peat moss pellets. You just take them out of the box and place them in the little slots in the greenhouse base. I planted about 12 of each plant. Within a few days, they began to sprout too. So now, I'm going to be looking into trying to transplant those within the next day or two so they have plenty of room to grow.

After I get those transplanted, I am going to move on to something else. Probably lettuce, cucumbers, etc. I might even order a little baby apple tree online and toss that somewhere out in the backyard. With the little bit of work that I've already done, I'm already looking at saving about $20 a week. Once I expand, and begin to grow more herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables, i'll be looking at saving a lot more. Heck, maybe in the long run I'll end up selling some of this stuff at the local farmers market, because I tend to go over board and I'm sure I'll end up growing way more than we can use.

Long story short, if you're like me, and you can't see spending $50 a week for something that grows from the dirt and you can do for yourself, then growing a small garden is definitely in your best interest. Not only will you save money, but you know what your getting, and to top it all off, it's a very rewarding experience.
Friday, April 5, 2013
Posted by Matthew Brown

Bill Gates to Invest in Green Technology

Not a very long video, but Bill Gates goes in depth about his plan to invest in green technology. He also raises a lot of valid points about the world's current energy situation. Definitely an interesting watch for anybody who is interested in green technology.

Posted by Matthew Brown

10 Energy Saving Tips for Winter

 Here are 10 energy saving tips for you to use during the winter months on your quest to live free. A lot of these you have probably seen else where. I'm sure these aren't closely guarded secrets or anything, but for those who might not have seen them already, here you go.

1.) Lower your thermostat to 68 degrees. In the winter, set the thermostat between 65 and 70 degrees during the day and to 58 degrees at night or when away from home for several hours. If you have a heat pump, make sure to slowly increase the temperature to avoid running the emergency heat. You can learn more about your thermostat online by visiting the U.S. Department of Energy website.

2.) Seal air leaks. Seal all holes from pipes and wires that enter/exit the living space. This includes entrances, pull-downs and attic stair openings, light fixtures, pipes and wires. Attic entryways should be weather stripped and insulated.

3.) Seal off fireplaces. Never use a fireplace as a heat source for your home. Even as a supplemental heat source, the cold air introduced to a warm home through an open flue isn't as efficient as sealing off a fireplace and using the primary source of heat. For natural gas fireplaces, turn off the pilot light when not in use. Seal off the fireplace area or the flue area to prevent cold air from leaking in. (Note: Building codes in some areas require that the damper in your chimney to be permanently blocked open if you install gas logs. Please check the building code for your area for the appropriate procedure.)

4.) Seal duct work. This is the number one way to conserve energy. Make sure that all ductwork is sealed at joints and intersections with duct sealer or silicone caulk. Otherwise, supply ductwork can leak heated air into the attic or crawl space, and outside air can be drawn into the return ductwork, increasing costs and reducing comfort dramatically. Ducts can be sealed using foil-backed tape or silicon caulking.

5.) Lower water heater to 120-125 degrees. Many water heaters are automatically set at 140 degrees. Lowering the temperature on your water heater to between 120 and 125 degrees will reduce the amount of fuel needed to heat the water.

6.) Change furnace filters every month. This is the number one reason for furnace breakdowns. Inspect heating and cooling equipment annually, or as recommended by the manufacturer. Have a professional check and clean furnaces once a year.

7.) Weatherstrip doors and windows. Inspect windows and doors for air leaks. If you can see daylight around a door or window frame, then the door or window needs sealing. Air leaks can be sealed with caulking or weather-stripping.

8.) Insulate water pipes coming from the water heater. Insulate the first 3- to 6-feet of cold and hot water pipes near the water heater. Insulating all hot water pipes is not necessary where pipes are located in a crawlspace or attic.

9.) Add an insulation blanket to water heater. Wrapping the water heater with an insulation blanket can save heating money by slowing the drop in temperature from the hot water tank as it sits unused. Inexpensive insulation kits are available at most home improvement stores.

10.) Add insulation to attic. When adding insulation, start at the top and work down only after eliminating air infiltration.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Posted by Matthew Brown

10 Energy Saving Tips for Summer

Here are 10 basic energy saving tips to use for the summer months on your quest to live free. I'm sure as basic as these are, you can probably find this place several places on the web, but I thought I would share them for anyone who hasn't seen them already. Here we go...
1.) Raise your thermostat to 78ยบ. If you are away from home for more than eight hours, raise the thermostat setting and you can expect to see up to a 3% savings on cooling costs for each degree of setback. This is the number one way to conserve energy.  This will reduce the amount of energy used to cool your home while you're away. You can learn more about your thermostat online by visiting the U.S. Department of Energy website.

2.) Keep shades closed when the air conditioner is on. Sunny windows account for 40 percent of unwanted heat and can make your air conditioner work two to three times harder.

3.)Check and clean filters. Cleaning and replacing air conditioning filters monthly allows the system to run more efficiently.

Clear attic vents.  If the home has an attic fan, make sure it is functioning properly.

4.) Install ceiling fans and make sure they are blowing down. Don't underestimate the importance of ceiling fans. Moving air over the body provides a cooling effect. The use of ceiling fans can mean savings of around 25% on cooling costs and can make the temperature seem 10 degrees cooler.  Most fans have a switch to change the fan direction. Make sure ceiling fans are blowing downward (in a counter-clockwise direction) to send air past your body.

5.) Postpone activities that require hot water and large energy use – such as washing dishes or clothes – to early morning or late evening.  This will keep from adding more heat and humidity to the home. 

6.) Use the dishwasher and clothes washer late in the evening. When used during the day, these appliances produce additional heat, causing your air conditioner to work harder.
Use cold water to wash dishes and clothes. This will save on water heating costs.

7.) Avoid using the stove if possible.  Consider grilling outside instead.

8.) Unplug equipment not in use. Electric chargers, televisions and audio/video equipment use electricity and produce heat even when they are not in use. 
Running an older refrigerator can use up to three times the energy of a modern one. Unplug any appliance when it's not in use.

9.) Turn off lights. Turn lights off when exiting a room.  They add to the heat in the home.  

10.) Consider replacing incandescent bulbs with energy efficient compact florescent lights (CFLs). And remember to recycle CFLs whenever possible.

Posted by Matthew Brown

Make Money Going Green

The best things in life are free, and there is nothing better than free money. We are going to spend a lot of time talking about different ways to cut expenses and eliminate or at least reduce bills in upcoming articles. With this particular installment, we aren't going to do any of those things. Instead, I'd like to show a couple of easy methods to actually generate a little extra revenue on your journey to live free.

These methods are simple and straight forward, but best of all they require very little time or effort. If you follow and practice some of my other live free guides, then these methods will stem from things that you are already doing to reduce and eliminate expenses. I would like to note that this post will be greatly expanded on in the future, so keep checking back.

1. Get paid to recycle

Recycling is a nice thing to do for several reasons. First and foremost, it reduces our ecological footprint, meaning, we are putting a lot less stress on our planet earth by reducing the amount of raw materials that we take from it. It also allows us to reduce the amount of trash that we are dispensing into landfills. Reducing our trash output also can save us from weekly trash removal services, which in some areas can be quite pricey. But there is one more thing about recycling that isn't very well known. People will pay you for your recycling.

That's right. Recycling companies will actually pay you for your recycling. They make huge money by collecting it and dispersing it to companies who reclaim it and reuse it. That's why they offer 'free pickup' for recycling. If they can get it for free they make even more money.

Now, the trick with getting paid to recycle is to know the ins and outs of it, which isn't very complex at all. First, hop on your favorite search engine and find a recycling center near you that pays for your recyclables. This shouldn't be hard. I am extremely lucky in that I actually found one less than five minutes from my house.

Next, give them a call and figure out exactly what they will pay for and how much they pay per pound. This will vary by area for each recyclable material. That is why it is important to put that call in and find out exactly how much and of what your drop off center will take and pay for.

Now that you know where to take your recyclables and how much your drop off center of choice is willing to pay for them, it's time to devise a system in which to collect them. I keep a separate 13 gallon can in the back of my kitchen for each material; plastic, glass, cardboard, etc. It never hurts to have a very large storage bin for each as well. A perfect place for these would be in a garage, shed, or pull barn. When your 13 gallon cans get full, empty them into your storage container. When the container gets full, haul them to your recycling center and cash in.

2. Sell your unused energy

If you are running any kind of green energy system, such as solar or wind powered systems, or are considering installing one at some point, this is perfect for you. First we are going to walk you through a quick overview of green energy systems, and then we will show you a method to make your local energy provider pay you for your unused energy.

The basic setup of any green energy system consists of your "generator" so to speak, which would be your solar panels or wind turbines, and your battery bank. Now, obviously, there are a few more things to it than just that, but for the sake of simplicity and a basic overview, we will only focus on these.

With any green energy system the general process will be the same. The "generator" will generate energy, trickle charging the batteries in the battery bank. If you are on an independent system this, in theory, will power your entire house. If you are still on your local providers grid, you will run solely on your green energy, only running on your providers power in the event that you have consumed enough energy that all the batteries in your bank have been fully discharged.

Now, this method is actually quite simple, especially if you already have an existing green energy system and know all the lingo and technicalities. All you need to do is install what's called a "tie in". This does exactly what it sounds like it does. It ties you in. It basically connects your existing green energy system to your local providers grid.

What will happen is, in the event that all of your batteries in your bank are at full charge and there is little no usage, the tie in will start kicking that energy back at your local provider. Your provide will then reimburse you for energy that is sent their way. This won't be a lot of money. You definitely won't get rich doing it, but it's always nice to have a little extra money coming your way. In most cases you can expect to receive less than half of what consumers in your area pay per kilowatt hour.

It never hurts to make a little bit of spare cash on your journey to live free.

Note: I will be posting a whole series very shortly on green energy systems, including both solar and wind powered systems, tie ins, battery banks, and the math used to calculate system needs and everything else involved. Check back regularly.

Make Your Own Household Cleaners

This article series is designed to eliminate/reduce your monthly expenses one at a time, in an attempt to live free. We will start with the smaller things, then move on to the bigger money savers. First up, we will look at making our own household cleaners. These cleaners will be made with items not containing all of the toxic chemicals contained in commercial products. Oh, and did I mention that you will get more, for a fraction of the cost.

These cleaners are eco-friendly, extremely cheap, and in most cases as easy as combining the powdered ingredients and shaking to ensure it's well mixed. Are you ready to begin to live free? Then let's get started.

TIP: All of the things used here are easily found at any grocery store in the same aisle as the commercial cleaners.

Laundry Detergent

1 cup of borax
1 cup of baking soda
1 cup of washing soda
2 cup of castille soap

Simply mix all of these powdered ingredients into a mixing bowl breaking up any clumps. Stir or shake the bowl to ensure that the ingredients are mixed well.

This recipe will make enough to do 128 loads of laundry. That's the same amount as the bigger bottles of liquid detergent at most grocery stores. This homemade cleaner costs about $2, compared to the $13+ for the same amount when going with a name brand cleaner.

Use about 1 table spoon per load.

Dish washing detergent

3 cups washing soda
1 cup baking soda
A large storage container to store finished product
1 Tbsp measure to keep in the storage container 

The process for this is the same as the laundry detergent. Simply combine all of the powdered ingredients together and mix well. 

Use about one table spoon per load.

Carpet Cleaner

Liquid castille soap
Hydrogen peroxide
Container to mix ingredients
Spoon to mix ingredients

Mix one part castille soap with two parts peroxide in the mixing container. Either pour it onto the carpet stain or put the mixture into a spray bottle. 

Disinfecting wipes

A container in which to keep wipes. This should be leak proof and it's better if it has a flip top lid.
Rags, old baby washcloths, etc.
1/2 cup liquid castille soap
2-3 cups water
Essential oils for fragrance, if preferred
Tea tree oil for disinfecting properties

Combine all of the liquid ingredients into your container. Shake or stir to make sure ingredients are well mixed. Now add your rags. By the time you have added all of your rags to fill the container, you may need to add a little more water to make sure that the ones on top are wet.

Glass Cleaner

This is the simplest of them all.

1 Part Vinegar
1 Part water

Simply mix a half and half mixture of vinegar and water into a spray bottle. For best results use newspaper to wash glass. 

This mixture is extremely cheap but more effective than traditional cleaners like Windex. The vinegar will thoroughly clean the glass, but will not leave residue or streaks like most commercial cleaners.

Posted by Matthew Brown


Have you ever wished you could live free? Free of rent, utility bills, massive grocery spending, costly prescriptions? Well, with a little know how and motivation you can achieve this. You can kick all the bills and actually afford to live the way you want too, to live free.

In This series of articles you will gather all the information you need to greatly reduce your bills, and reduce your ecological footprint along the way (for those that are interested). We will cover everything from alternative energies, to methods to eliminate cable and home phone bills, to a very cheap method of converting your cars engine to a hybrid system, greatly increasing it's fuel economy without sacrificing horse power.

These methods, all which are relatively cheap and easy, when employed in unison, will truly allow you to live free(ish). All of these live free methods do incur costs, of course, but will pay for themselves over short periods of time. All of the following articles in this live free series will layout very close estimates as to what you will be looking to spend for each project. We will also walk you through doing the math to figure out exactly how long it will take for these live free projects to pay for themselves.

Are you ready to live free?
Posted by Matthew Brown
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