The REAL Cost of Owning Wireless Mice and Keyboards

When the Honeybee and I bought our last computer, there was quite a debate over whether or not we should pay the extra money for the added convenience of a wireless keyboard and/or mouse.   The fear, of course, was in the uncertainty of whether or not we would end up spending a small fortune over the life of the computer buying replacement batteries.

We ultimately decided to Heck with it (wherever that is) and went the wireless route, not only for the convenience, but also because of the neatness that comes with having two less wires attached to our iMac.

Of course, being the financial nut that I am, I decided to track how often I changed the batteries so I knew how much I was paying on top of the premium I originally paid for the wireless devices.

For the record, our keyboard and mouse get heavy use; I would conservatively estimate that our computer is in use, on average, ten hours per day.

So with that information in mind, here is a summary of all the battery changes for our wireless keyboard and mouse since we got our new computer approximately 18 months ago:

So how much money has that set us back?

If you buy in bulk like we do, you can get quality AA alkaline batteries for 40 cents each in reasonable quantities for the average household.   That means we have spent only $18.40 plus tax for our wireless keyboard and mouse batteries in a year and a half.   Excluding the original premium, of course, that comes out to only a dollar per month – well worth the convenience over their traditional wired counterparts, if you ask me!   :-)

In fact, that cost is so low it certainly doesn’t come close to justifying the initial charger and battery costs we would have to pay to switch over to rechargeable batteries.

In my next post I’ll not only explore why that is so, but I’ll also address why rechargeable batteries actually make less financial sense than many people think.    :-)

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  1. 1

    Justin says

    Or, you know, you could help out the environment buying rechargeable batteries when you know you’ll go through a bunch of them as in wireless mouse/keyboards.

    Just because your saving a few bucks doesn’t mean it makes sense. Think about the environment you’re leaving behind for your children. “I’m sorry Timmy, I care more about a few bones than the environment you’ll be growing up in and later raising your children in”.

    How about teaching everyone a little bit of environmental courtesy?

  2. 2


    Sorry, Justin, but it is not my job to teach everyone about environmental courtesy. This is a personal finance blog, where the almighty dollar (pound, euro, etc.) rules.

    Readers looking for tutorials on environmental courtesy can always use their rechargeable battery-powered mice and keyboards and click themselves over to Earth First!, the Earth Liberation Front, or any of those other save-the-earth groups.

  3. 3

    Ben says

    What kind of mouse do you have? I have a standard Microsoft optical wireless mouse (not a laser one) and use it 8+ hours a day as a software engineer, 5 days a week, and change my 2 AA batteries in it roughly once a year.

  4. 4


    I am using a laser-based Apple Mighty Mouse.

    My usage estimate was very conservative. If I were to try and get more accurate, I would say between the wife and I, our mouse is used closer to 12 hours per day on the weekdays and 15 hours per day on most weekends.

    • 5

      Ben says

      Incredible that someone uses their mouse 12 to 15 hours per day every week and quibbles about the cost of batteries over a few years.

      Actually I’ve picked up a set of Ikea’s LADDA batteries – which will recharge up to 500 times… ridiculous! Maybe they’ll be good for 10 years.

      Think more about the cost of burning the juice – do you use a nicely low powered computer? I know Apple computers suck enough juice in a month to make your comments about batteries in landfils completely irrelevant.

  5. 6

    Layla says


    I take back the ‘you were lucky’ statement – 18 + 28 batteries is 46 batteries in landfill because you are not sure you would live for 5 years more to justify the cost??

    Where do you live? California and EU require batteries to be handled separately because of the toxics in them.

    Why don’t you just throw away the Honeybee then, but keep the reusable option? 😉

    And do you always throw your plates and pants away too, or simply wash and reuse?

    What you write is interesting, but it is also SAD. Because in a world we live in I would wish for reusable and more environmentally friendly things to financially make sense too.

    And aside from the debate, we had a wireless mouse and then replaced it with a wired one again, as it was more reliable at all moments. I expect that option would also be the most cost effective, hmm?

    • 7


      I’ll try and address each of your points – just not in the order you presented them:

      1. It’s not so much that I am not sure I would live five more years, Layla. It’s more that I’m not sure that the rechargeable batteries and/or charger would live the five years.

      2. Yes, obviously, a wired mouse will have lower operational and maintenance costs than a wireless mouse; after all, the cost of batteries for a wired mouse is $0.00 over the life of the mouse. You got me there, Layla! LOL

      3. Now, to try and equate pants and plates to batteries is so ridiculous that I won’t even bother explaining how disjointed those analogies are.

      4. Last but not least… I too, Layla, would wish for reusable and more environmentally friendly things to financially make sense – but that is not usually how it works. What I won’t do, is distort the facts to fit the utopian/environntalist agenda – like the Global Warming academics were recently shown to have done. Now that is SAD.

  6. 8

    Steven says

    Are you sitting pretty far from the computer, which is why you need a wireless keyboard and mouse?

    If you are sitting close enough, then why not just stick with a wired keyboard and mouse?

    You don’t ever have to worry about buying batteries and tossing them.

  7. 11

    andrew says

    Dear Len,

    Great articles on rechargeables. Lot of valid comparisons here to help people decide.

    But I would take issue with your title “The REAL Cost of Owning…” I know you’re talking about the real cost of owning for the consumer. But ultimately, people need to get their heads around the idea that the REAL real cost is not always reflected in the purchase price.

    Not trying to be some radical environmentalist here, just saying that with some of these batteries, the materials are toxic and can’t just be dumped in the ground, they need to be separated out, and that costs SOMEONE money. It’s just that it just goes to the taxpayer, so you end up paying it in your tax bill.

    Now why should you pay tax for cleanup when you may not have bought anything to clean up? That’s why “externalities” need to be priced into the product from the beginning through regulation.

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