Recharging: The Best Batteries for Your Budget


When every dollar counts, and penny pinching is a way of life, significant savings could be at the tips of your fingers -- inside your TV remote control. 

That’s because investing in rechargeable batteries instead of buying single-use traditional batteries could really pay off in the long run.  Here’s what you need to know.

Why are rechargeable batteries a good idea?

Americans throw away nearly three billion batteries every year.

That's a lot of money being spent to power cameras, remote controls, wall clocks and other devices. The cost and the pollution caused by the single-use power supplies can shrink significantly with a simple measure: recharging.

Which kinds of rechargeable batteries generally make the most sense?

While rechargeable D-cell and nine-volt batteries are available, the easiest to find, and possibly the most commonly-used rechargeable batteries are AA and AAA. And you don’t have to go to specialty retailers like eco-friendly Gaiam for battery and charger sets.  Electronics stores and discount retailers like Target (Stock Quote: TGT) also carry rechargeables made by household names like Energizer (Stock Quote: ENR) and Duracell (Stock Quote: PG).

Which kinds of devices are good candidates for rechargeable batteries?

If your household uses a lot of AA and AAA batteries but you’re reluctant to front the money to replace all of your batteries with rechargeables, using rechargeables for certain devices may get you more bang for your buck than others. 

Since the amount of energy you burn through depends on how frequently you use a gadget, remote controls, a wireless keyboard and mouse, kids toys and other devices you use often can deplete their power sources fast.  Using a rechargeable battery for a wall clock or a rarely-used emergency flashlight on the other hand might not get you as much for your money.

So how much can you actually save?

Let’s say you go through 20 AA batteries per year to power remote controls, your wireless keyboard and mouse and one of your cameras. If you paid $5 for a 4-pack of single-use batteries, you’d spend $25 a year. 

A set of rechargeable batteries and a charger might cost you about $40 upfront, but they can be charged hundreds of times before they wear out, according to Energizer.

If your charger uses about 0.2 kilowatt hours per battery to charge, and electricity costs about 12 cents per kilowatt hour, it’ll cost you 48 cents to charge 20 batteries. Including the cost of the batteries and the charger, considering 500 charges, you’d pay $2.08 per year on rechargeable batteries, the charger and electricity needed, instead of $25.

What can I do to get the most out of my rechargeable batteries?

If you don’t use your rechargeable batteries, they may need to be recharged. And like single-use batteries, they should be stored in a cool, dry place.

When they do get worn out, your rechargeable batteries will die a slow death, and you’ll know they’re dead when they can’t hold a charge for long, if at all.

What is the best way to dispose of batteries once they are done?

When rechargeable batteries die, a number of home stores, hardware stores and other retailers will take your old batteries and recycle them.  To find one in your area, click here.

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