The best way to power up your gadgets.

By Real Simple
Updated January 15, 2009
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As in:The AAs occupying the egg holder in your refrigerator. RELATED: 7 Stylish Storage Solutions for Your HomeThe fixes:Use the original packaging. The best way to store batteries is in their original packaging in a drawer―not, contrary to popular belief, in the refrigerator, as condensation can cause damage.Secure loose batteries with a rubber band. Make sure all the positives point the same way, says Eric Schweitzer, technical program manager for the Association of Electrical and Medical Imaging Equipment Manufacturers, in Rosslyn, Virginia. If the terminals touch each other, the life of the batteries can be shortened. “And be sure to put them in a plastic bag so they don’t touch metal objects, like keys, which can cause electrical shorting,” he says.
Amy Wilson

The smoke detector chirps, signaling its battery is dead. Your portable DVD player quits working midflight. Do you reach for the convenient disposable batteries or the everlasting rechargeables? Here’s what to consider (free of charge).

  • A disposable alkaline battery will work twice as long as a rechargeable battery before it needs to be changed. So it makes sense to use disposables for low-drain devices (ones that don’t draw much current), such as smoke detectors, alarm clocks, and remote controls.
  • For energy hogs, including portable DVD players, remote-control toys, and cordless power tools, opt for rechargeable nonalkaline batteries. Although rechargeables have a higher up-front cost (about $30 for four AA batteries and a charger, compared with $3 for four disposable AAs), they can be recharged about 100 times, making them easier on your wallet in the long run, says Tom Reddy, editor of Handbook of Batteries (McGraw-Hill, $157.50, amazon.com). You also won’t be adding dead batteries and their packaging to landfills―and that’s a positive.