Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Earth-Friendly, Green Tip #17

Lithium-ion batteries are great for vacations because they are very long lasting and because they are lighter than regular alkaline AA batteries. In addition, you don't have to worry about recharging them. So, even though they are more expensive than alkalines, you are getting more for your money! More energy, more convenience, and a lighter device.

I used four non-rechargeable lithium AA batteries in my digital camera on a trip recently. And they lasted about a month beyond that trip. Finally, even though they were dead as far as the camera was concerned, they still had voltage in them that I wanted to use up before throwing them away (recycling them).

My solution? Use them in a wall clock I have at work whose battery had recently died. Now you might be saying, "Go ahead, use dead batteries in your clock at work Brian, and five o'clock will never come."

Step back, oh ye of little faith.

The clock uses one AA battery at a time. I had four "dead" lithium batteries at the beginning of March and now in June the clock is operating on the third battery, or at about the rate of one dead lithium battery per month. New life was found in batteries that were headed for the battery recycling bin.

What makes this possible is that an electric clock uses extremely little energy, perfect for draining the last drop of power from batteries used initially in higher drain devices. This process of "hypermiling" works in low-power remote controls and probably in certain LED flashlights as well.

This stuff isn't going to save the planet from "the sky is falling" disaster that Al Gore and his minions are predicting, but it does fit into the "waste not want not" category. And I think in this economic climate we can all agree on using things as long as possible and getting the most value for our buck.

BTW, using rechargeable batteries whenever possible, is even better for the environment (Earth-Friendly, Green Tip #8).

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