8 Free Ways to Supercharge the Tech in Your Home & Gadgets

In an ideal world, we'd all be early adopters, using new technology as soon as it became available. In the real world, however, who's got the cash to use every sort of tech and gadget out there? But what if it were possible to enjoy the cool and exciting technology for free? We found eight ways to update the tech in your home and in your pocket without spending a penny.

8 ways to get free tech for your home and gadgets.
8 ways to get free tech for your home and gadgets.
credit: eHow

1. Get free ringtones for your iPhone

Like Pavlov's dogs, we've been conditioned to check our iPhones every time we hear Apple's default ringtones. Break the habit by creating your own custom ringtone using iTunes or one of these free ringtone apps; you won't be tempted to answer your phone unless your favorite song (or voice memo!) is playing in your pocket.

Create free ringtones for your iPhone using iTunes
Create free ringtones for your iPhone using iTunes.
credit: Jackie Dove

2. Turn an old smartphone into a home security camera

Why spend $200 on a smart security camera when you can check in on your home for free? There are several iOS and Android apps available to download that can turn an unused smartphone into a home monitoring device without any extra hardware or expense.

Turn an old smartphone into a home security camera
Turn an old smartphone into a home security camera.

3. Watch free movies on the web

You don't need a Netflix subscription to catch your favorite flick, but you do need internet access. Watch almost everything online, from full-length features to this season's most popular TV shows, for free from these legal streaming sites.

Watch free movies online from these legal streaming sites
Watch free movies online via legal streaming sites.

4. Get a free Nest Learning Thermostat

A programmable thermostat can save you money -- if you remember to program it. The Nest never needs to be programmed because it automatically learns your routine, but it will cost you a few hundred dollars more upfront. That is, unless you're able to snag one for free (or at a steep discount) from your local energy provider.

Your local energy provider may offer a free Nest Learning Thermostat
Your local energy provider may offer a free Nest Learning Thermostat.
credit: Nest

5. Have solar panels installed for free

Those shiny silver rooftop panels can save you money while saving the environment, but first you'll have to pony up $20,000 -- or more. However, if you're eager to jump into the world of solar energy, you may be able to get no-cost solar panels through a Power Purchase Agreement.

Get free solar panels via power purchase agreements
Get free solar panels via power purchase agreements.
credit: SolarCity

6. Download free iPhone wallpapers

Sure, you could use a photo from your camera roll as your iPhone wallpaper, but with so many free designs available to download, why not try something a bit more artistic? You're sure to find at least one that you love out of these 30+ free options.

Pretty and free iPhone wallpaper
Pretty iPhone wallpaper to download for free.
credit: Amy Pasos

7. Get free Wi-Fi access anywhere

From shopping malls to gas stations, more and more places are offering free Wi-Fi -- albeit some are more conducive for working on a laptop or tablet than others. Remember, once you figure out where to get online for free, take precautions to protect your data from hackers.

Find access to free Wi-Fi with these websites and apps
Find access to free Wi-Fi with these websites and apps.

8. Download the best free Windows 10 apps

Congratulations! You've made the switch from Windows 8 to Windows 10. Now download Window 10's top 25 apps for the best user experience yet.

Get the best Windows 10 apps for free
The best free Windows 10 apps.
credit: InfoWorld