Without our laptops, MP3 players, portable DVD players and smartphones, we may wander listlessly about, feeling rather bored. The battery is the lifeblood–and without batteries, our favorite devices are useless. For this reason, and because they aren’t that cheap to replace–you should always try to extend the battery life of your favorite equipment. If you’ve never imagined that you could do this–then you may be surprised to learn that some of your habits may actually be killing your batteries. By taking the following easy steps you will add hours, days, weeks and sometimes years to the life of your electronics–and not have to shell out unnecessary cash for replacement batteries.

1. Allow your battery to fully die once a month, or don’t charge it until you get a low battery warning on its screen. Cycling your battery this way will help keep the cells fresher longer.

2. Avoid overheating your laptop. Don’t set your laptop on a pillow, your couch or your bed while it is running, as the cushions will prevent proper ventilation and your computer’s interior temperature will rise dramatically. This will shorten the life of the battery very quickly.

3. Don’t leave your valuable electronics exposed to high levels of heat. This includes the inside of your car on a summer’s day. Try to use your cell phone or iPod after it has sat in your sweltering car all day, and you may discover that it will no longer hold more than a 10-minute charge.

4. Similar to heat, extreme cold (anything below 40 degrees) can also shorten the life of your batteries. If you forget your device in your car in the dead of winter, allow it to come to room temperature before turning it back on.

5. If you have older devices that you just don’t use as often, but don’t want to get rid of, use them at least once a month. If the device is left unused, over a period of time, the battery will become stagnant and need to be replaced.

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