Our house goes through quite a few batteries, particularly AA, C, and D cells. Between remote controls, flashlights, and children’s toys, we always have a few dozen batteries in use in our home at the same time.
The cheapest solution in the short term is to just go to our local warehouse club and buy a few jumbo packs of batteries. That will get power to your devices at the lowest possible price right now.
However, it’s nowhere near the least expensive long-term solution.
The least-expensive long term solution is to move everything to rechargeable batteries. All you need is a battery recharger and a few more batteries than you actually need for your devices. Keep the extras charged up, then when you need to swap some out, just start charging up the dead ones and they become your spares.
This system will cost you a fair amount up front, but it will keep you from buying batteries for a very long time.
Rechargeable batteries have something of a bad rap with many people due to the first popular generation of rechargeables from the 1980s, which really didn’t work all that well. Today’s rechargeables are substantially better than those.
My preferred rechargeable battery is the eneloop, which not only works really well when your devices are in use, but they hold their charge for a very long time when you’re not using the device. You’ll also need a good charger, like this LaCrosse battery charger.
So, let’s run the numbers on this. You’re using 4 D cells, 20 AA cells, and 10 AAA cells around your home. Let’s say you replace all of these every six months, on average. Let’s look at what this costs over ten years.
If you buy new batteries each time, you’re going to be buying 80 D cells, 400 AA cells, and 400 AAA cells over that timeframe. Your total cost for those batteries according to the latest Amazon prices is $269.68.
If you buy rechargeables, you’re going to be buying 4 D cell adapters, 24 AA cells, and 14 AAA cells (so you have backups). Your total cost for these batteries according to the latest Amazon prices is $119.84. You’ll also need a charger, which you can find for $20.
In other words, investing in rechargeable batteries up front can easily save you $100. There’s also the factor that, with rechargeables, you’re not filling up the trash (and thus landfills) with batteries that don’t break down well.
Over the long term, rechargeable batteries are the way to go if you want to save money and if you want to avoid tossing batteries into landfills.
This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. Images courtesy of Brittany Lynne Photography, the proprietor of which is my “photography intern” for this project.