11 Tips for Prolonging Battery Life

by Joanne Guidoccio
Tips for Prolonging Battery Life photo

It’s no secret batteries aren’t cheap. Keep your battery costs as low as possible with these tips for prolonging battery life.

After cleaning out my bedroom and kitchen drawers, I ended up with an assortment of batteries. Glancing at the best-before dates, I realized that I would be taking about $50 of unused merchandise to a nearby recycling facility.

I resolved to be more careful and keep my batteries alive as long as possible. I found the following tips helpful for prolonging the life of batteries and reducing battery costs:

1. Buy fewer toys, appliances, and electronics that rely only on batteries. Whenever possible, select products that can be powered electronically or by hand.

2. Turn off battery-powered appliances when you are not using them. This will extend battery life.

3. Use rechargeable batteries if you want to be environmentally friendly and save money. Nickel-Metal-Hydrate batteries (NiMH) can be charged thousands of times.

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4. Check the milliamp hour (mAh) before buying. The higher the mAh, the longer the battery will last in the long term and between charges.

5. Use alkaline batteries for items that sit unused for a long period of time. For example, you’d use alkaline batteries in a flashlight. When buying, check the best-before date and select the lowest-priced batteries. Brand names do not consistently outperform the generic brands.

6. Keep batteries in comfortable temperatures. Exposure to extreme heat or extreme cold can reduce battery capacity. If you live in a hot climate, consider keeping alkaline batteries in the refrigerator, but remember to warm them up before using. Also, keep electronic devices out of direct sunlight.

7. Consider partial discharge cycles for your electronic device. While you may have been taught to let your device become fully discharged before charging, keeping the charge in the 40 to 80 percent range is a better idea. However, balance this advice with practicality. If you are traveling and won’t be near a charger for a while, charge your device to 100 percent.

8. Do not leave your devices plugged in at 100 percent. Overcharging will reduce battery life. Instead, discharge it down to 40 percent occasionally. If you plan not to use your device for a while, keep the battery at around 50 percent.

9. Improve the performance of the day-to-day life of your battery by turning down the brightness of your screen and muting the speakers. When using your laptop, copy CD or DVD information to the hard drive. The laptop uses less power if you run such programs from the hard drive rather than using the CD/DVD optical drive. Limit computer gaming, CD listening, and video watching. Graphic and sound-intensive programs drain the battery faster.

10. Change the batteries on your smoke detector twice a year. Take the top off the detector and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

11. Visit Call2Recycle to find the locations of rechargeable battery and cell phone collection programs throughout the United States and Canada. This tip won’t necessarily save you money, but it will help save the environment.

Reviewed December 2023

About the Author

For 31 years, Joanne Guidoccio taught mathematics, computer science, business and career education courses in secondary schools throughout Ontario. Her articles, book reviews, and short stories have been published in Canadian newspapers and online. She has bachelor's degrees in mathematics and education and a Career Development Practitioner diploma.

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