Consumer Reports tested a dozen, including some from Energizer, Duracell, and Rayovac, as well as store brands.
To measure how long batteries last, testers load them into identical digital cameras. They zoom three times, take five photos with the flash, zoom three more times, then take five photos without the flash. After a 10-minute rest, the test is repeated until the batteries die.
Walgreens Alkaline Supercell was the lowest-rated battery. It took only 133 photos. Compare that with the top-rated Energizer Advanced Lithium, which took 809 photos! But a four-pack costs almost $11.
Lithium batteries do cost more, but they last longer, so Consumer Reports finds that you save in the long run. But you have to be careful which lithium batteries you buy. The Energizer Advanced Lithium batteries took 809 photos, but the Energizer Ultimate Lithiums took just 470. Consumer Reports says lithiums are best for digital cameras, which use a lot of energy.
For remote controls and devices that use less power, go with alkalines. The Duracell Ultra are the top-rated alkalines and cost around $7 for a four-pack. And for toys, opt for rechargeable batteries. They'll save you the most.
Consumer Reports says most alkaline batteries can be thrown out in the trash, but rechargeables should be recycled. They contain toxins that shouldn't go into the landfill. You can find a recycling center near you by checking online at www.earth911.com or www.call2recycle.org.