Before you shift your attention to something more interesting (like those dust bunnies under your desk), I hope you’ll choose to read a bit on this subject because these tips will save you money and help reduce your environmental impact. As you probably know, most batteries contain mercury which is environmentally toxic. Some stores, like Ikea, now sell alkaline batteries that contain no mercury or cadmium at all. Best of all, they cost only $1.99 for a ten-pack which is the cheapest I’ve ever seen. Although Ikea earns points for accepting all types of batteries for recycling, it’s still important to minimize the number of overall batteries we use. On that score (and in terms of long-term cost savings), rechargeables win over alkaline batteries every time. I have been using rechargeable batteries for years but recently learned that the technology has vastly improved. My favorite blogger, Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar , describes in his new book 365 Ways to Live Cheap! that the Eneloop batteries from GE and Sanyo hold 85% of their charge after a year of sitting on a shelf. I have since learned that other batteries, such as the Rayovac Hybrid and the Imedion battery, are also excellent. These types of low-discharge batteries are perfect for use in items like children’s toys which might sit unused for months. But if you are going to put rechargeables in something like a digital camera that gets constant use, then consider sticking with a rechargeable battery like Energizer or Duracell which often have 1/3 more power than the low-discharge type. I should mention that I’ve only found the low-discharge rechargeables on the Internet although the Energizer and Duracell brands are commonly available in stores like Target and CVS.

On a related note, I was initially stumped by how to replace those tiny “button” batteries engraved with numbers like GP-186 found inside thermometers and some children’s toys. Radio Shack might have them in stock, but they tend to be pricey. I’ve had great luck on the Internet where they’re often available for .35 or .69 each. The trick here is avoiding high shipping costs. One of the better web-based firms I’ve found that charges the least for shipping and has the best selection is


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