Do rechargeable batteries save money?
Rechargeable batteries Vs disposable batteries: Is it really worth the trouble of buying a battery charger and charging our batteries every time they run out of power?
Is it not way easier to replace an already exhausted battery for a new one and just keep that exhausted battery on a box until you have time to take it to a collection spot?
Well, disposable batteries may have both an economic and an environmental impact so keep reading to know if in your particular case it is worth starting using rechargeable batteries.
IKEA using only rechargeable batteries
IKEA has recently made a rechargeable batteries announcement stating that:
‘ Following IKEA’s commitment to inspire and enable people to live a healthier and more sustainable life at home, all non-rechargeable alkaline batteries will be removed from the global home furnishing range by October 2021.
With this decision, IKEA wishes to inspire consumers who need to frequently use batteries to make a switch to rechargeable batteries.
Regular use over time enables consumers to both save money and reduce waste at home.’
In the same announcement, IKEA mentions that:
‘Already after 10 charges of a rechargeable NiMH battery, such as the LADDA range sold in IKEA stores, greenhouse gas emissions are lower as compared to using alkaline batteries to obtain the same amount of energy.
When about 50 charges are reached, the overall environmental impact  of NiMH batteries is equal to or even less than the impact of using alkaline batteries.‘
As well as:
‘ IKEA sold roughly 300 million ALKALISK alkaline batteries last year and estimates that discontinuing them could lead to a reduction of 5,000 tons of global waste if all customers switched to rechargeable batteries and used them for at least 50 cycles (which is just 10% of the 500 charge/discharge cycles each LADDA battery is rated for).’
Well, from IKEA’s perspective, it looks like it makes sense to use rechargeable batteries, but let’s have a look to what is the economic and environmental impact on the average household.
Are rechargeable batteries better?
A rechargeable battery it is roughly 4 times more expensive than a disposable battery and on top of that, we also need to buy a battery charger.
Also, charging the batteries does consume some electricity so does charging batteries increase our electricity bill?
All those factors need to be considered as well as our own individual situations.
♦ If as an individual you only use batteries for your TV remote control or maybe for your wireless mouse, then having to buy a charger for the more expensive rechargeable batteries makes no sense.
This is because you will be using maybe 8 batteries per year and the payback period will be far too long. In your case, from the money perspective, it makes sense to use disposable batteries
♦ If as an individual you have a hobby (e.g. photography) that requires the frequent use of batteries, then it really makes sense for you to buy rechargeable batteries.
♦ Also, if you have one or more children at home you must know by now that many toys consume batteries at an alarming rate. In your case, it is quite probable that you will be saving money by using rechargeable batteries.
As shown in the picture above, it takes only 16 recharges to pay back the cost of buying a battery charger and the additional cost of having to buy rechargeable batteries.
For some families, 16 battery recharges can happen over a single Christmas period…
But, how much does it cost to recharge the batteries? This factor should be also considered when deciding if buying rechargeable batteries it is worth, isn’t it?
Well, personally we pay 0,217 euros per every kWh we consume and using a plug-in power meter we have measured that charging 4 AAA batteries does cost us just over 2 cents.
The cost of charging the batteries is nearly negligible.
The environmental impact of batteries
But, apart from the cost, there is another very important factor that we need to have into consideration. The environmental impact.
According to a publication in The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment: ‘For the impact categories Acidification, Human toxicity (cancer effects), and Particulate matter, “inefficient” use of the rechargeable devices (for only 20 charge cycles or less) could cause higher impacts than the employment of disposable batteries.
Additionally, in the same publication, it is mentioned: ‘Moreover, for the Ozone depletion, NiMH batteries are hardly environmentally better than alkaline batteries even with 150 recharges.’
And as conclusions and recommendations, the following it is mentioned in the publication: ‘The number of uses of rechargeable batteries plays a key role on their environmental and energy performances. When compared to disposable batteries, a minimum number of 50 charge cycles permits a robust reduction of the potential impacts for all the analyzed indicators excluding Ozone depletion. Hence, the use of rechargeable batteries should be mostly encouraged for high consumption devices such as cameras, torches, and electronic toys.’
Well, all in all, we come back to the same situation. If you are an individual who barely uses batteries, it may not be environmentally friendly to buy rechargeable batteries.
If you are an individual who is using many batteries, because you have a hobby that requires many batteries, most probably you will be recharging the batteries 50 or more times within a few months.
In your case, using rechargeable batteries would be reducing your footprint.
And, similarly, if you have small children at home and they have plenty of toys that do use batteries, from the environmental perspective it makes sense to buy rechargeable batteries.
It seems that the key factor to decide if rechargeable or disposable batteries are more suitable for you is the number of times you will be recharging them.
If a rechargeable battery is disposed of before going through 50 recharges, the environmental impact is greater than using disposable batteries.
From the money-saving perspective, if you are using a significant amount of batteries per year, it is really worth considering swapping them for rechargeable batteries.
Where to buy rechargeable batteries
It is up to you but we personally use the most basic and economic battery charger we found on the market.
If you want to have an idea of the cost range, have a look at the battery chargers on Amazon. Amazon sells some rather economic AAA/AA battery chargers as well as an assorted range of rechargeable batteries.
Have a look, compare the prizes and the reviews and decide which one suits your needs.