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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Are Rechargeable Batteries That Great?

There are numerous claims that rechargeable batteries are the way to go, but are they that much better than our everyday alkaline batteries? And are they truly worth all that extra money?

It's a guarantee that batteries will die. After providing power to everything from cameras, to remote controls and your kids toys, there comes a point when batteries must move on to battery heaven. This year alone, one person will throw away an average of 8 batteries and Americans together will purchase close to 3 billion dry-cell batteries. So how do you stop yourself from following the crowd of battery tossers and buyers? RECHARGEABLE BATTERIES! Not only will you save money, but you will be taking advantage of renewable energy.

Clearly it is cheaper to reach for our old friend alkaline (whether it be those AA, AAA,C,D or 9-volts that we love so dearly), but once you pay the initial expense (Best Buy offers a Duracell 4 pack of AA batteries and charger stand for $12.99) for rechargeable batteries, there is no more expenses to owning these batteries. Rechargeable batteries can last up to 1,000 charges (longer if stored in the fridge) saving you about $80 a year, on average.

As for the environment, batteries can and will leak harmful chemicals (mercury, lead and cadmium) into landfills. Probably the best news is that rechargeable batteries are easy to recycle. And, because batteries can be recharged and reused numerous times, they contribute less waste to landfills, overall.

So now that you're interested in rechargeable batteries, here are your options:
Batteries

Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) - known for its long life but lower voltage potential than its competitors.

Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) - higher voltage that the NiCd, but requires more charges.

Lithium-ion-more expensive than other rechargeable batteries, but stores more energy and lasts longer between charges. They’re perfect for battery-operated tools and they’re better for the environment because they don’t contain harmful toxins. And lithium is a natural metal therefore available in great quantities.

And even though rechargeable batteries live longer than alkaline, there comes a time when they will die as well. But don't go throwing them away, check out the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (http://www.rbrc.org/call2recycle/) or call 877-273-2925. If there is not a site in your area to recycle your other rechargeable batteries, like those old cell phone batteries, check out EarthWorks website (http://earthworksboston.org/page/home) and they can send them off for you.


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