Rechargeable Battery Management for the Home or Office

Earlier this year, I decided to start a rechargeable battery regime at my sister’s house, after noticing that the family used a lot of AA and AAA size batteries. This is mostly because of the handheld controllers for games consoles, such as the Xbox 360 and the Wii which use batteries very quickly. There are numerous other devices which use batteries as well, such as TV and Cable box remote controls, clocks, wireless mouse and keyboard and even the new electric soap dispensers!

There were a number of reasons for my decision;

Firstly the cost saving is quite large, especially if you use a lot of batteries. (More about the cost saving later)

Second, you can reduce the amount of spent batteries you send to recycling (or landfill if you don’t recycle!)

Thirdly, (Mums, you may identify with this), it prevents the frantic rush around for fresh batteries by my Nephew (11yrs), when his Xbox controller has failed during a game! (To be fair to him, he has taken to the rechargeable battery scheme very well)

You don’t need to implement the scheme across all the devices you might have at once, so here is how I did it.

I bought a battery charger and two sets of 4 AA batteries to start. The charger I chose was a Duracell model CEF22. (It can charge 8 AA or AAA batteries at once, but will also charge one 9v PP3 or 4 C or D size cells.) We used these batteries to power the Xbox remotes. When devices using batteries needed new ones, I bought rechargeable batteries for them, instead of normal ones. This has seen our rechargeable battery population grow from 8 to 40 in a few months, but we now do not spend money on AA or AAA batteries at all since we have enough for all the equipment and have a full set of 8 (the max capacity of the charger) sitting in the drawer. All of the old batteries have been sent for recycling at the retail outlets. Even under heavy use conditions each battery should last about 3 years. In any case the Duracell charger indicates if a battery needs replacing when you put it on charge.

To set up the system, I have emptied a drawer to store the charger and the batteries in, so that the family know where they can get them. The draw has two open top containers, one marked “Charged” and one marked “Flat”. When you first get the batteries they will need charging. Put them into the charger, following the instructions given and wait for the ready indication (usually 2-3hrs). These batteries go in the “Charged” container to be used. I get my Nephew to put his flat ones in the “Flat” box and exchange for charged ones. Someone in the house (Me!) needs to keep an eye on the drawer, and when sufficient flat batteries are in the box, they can put a set on charge. I like to wait for a full set of 8 flat ones, to get the best use out of the charger. You could translate this scheme to an office easily if you have the need; pagers, wireless mice and keyboards and such.

A quick note about the batteries themselves, each one gives 1.2v as opposed to 1.5v of an alkaline non-rechargeable battery. This is ok in most devices, but some items say not to use rechargeable batteries in them. Check your device manual to be certain. TV remotes, game controllers, wireless mice and keyboards are all happy with rechargeable. At the end of their useful life, these can also be recycled!

Now as to relative cost: These items are all from, price checked 12/8/10, with free supersaver delivery.

1 x CEF22 charger £7.40 2x Duracell supreme AA 4packs @ £4.69 each £9.38 1x Duracell supreme AAA 4 pack @ 4.41 each £8.82

Total £25.60

Each additional pack will cost a similar amount, but each pack bought will save you more money. So if you reach a population of around 40 batteries like me, you will have spent £54.30, including the charger, if all of them are the more expensive AAs. BTW, charging is very cheap, the charger runs at 12w. You would need to run it for 83hrs to use 1Kwh of electricity, which costs 11p!

Cost of charging over lifetime (40 batteries):

40 / 8 = 5 charges of 3hrs = 15hrs to complete one charge for 40 batteries

300 charges x 15hrs = 4500hrs

4500hrs @12w = 54Kwh

54Kwh @11p per unit = £5.94, over the lifetime of 40 batteries

Cost of non-rechargeable batteries:

Duracell Plus Alkaline AA Batteries 12 Pack £4.35 (Equivalent to £1.45 per 4 pack)

Each battery can be recharged around 300 times. So a quick calculation can see how much I will save with my 40 batteries (10 packs) over their lifetime.

10 packs @ £4.69 £46.90

10 packs @ £1.45 £14.50 (replaced 300 times) £4350.00

Saving £4303.10 Yes you’re not reading it wrong, its £4303! Even if I add in the cost of the charger (£7.40) and the cost of charging over their lifetime (£5.94) the £46.90 goes up to £60.24. Still a saving of £4289!

Admittedly it may take several years to make these savings (depending on how many batteries you use) but you could also factor in the rise in cost of the non-rechargeable batteries over this time. Effectively the 40 rechargeable batteries take the place of 12000 non-rechargeables, over their lifetime.

You may not use as many batteries as we do but if you check, you will be surprised by how many of your children’s toys do need batteries, and how much you spend each month on replacing them. For a small investment of less than £30, you can start your own home or office scheme; why not give it a try!

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