With rapid advances in technology, printers are becoming less expensive everyday, but people often end up spending too much money on ink! Numerous vendors allow customers to purchase ink at prices much lower than those of the manufacturers, yet there is another way to cut costs: conservation. It’s certainly easy to waste ink, but it only requires a little extra effort to conserve it. The amount you save may not seem significant at first, but over a year and a lifetime, it can really add up.
Many businesses provided cash or discounts for used, empty inkjet cartridges from the original manufacturer. Postage to mail your cartridge is generally provided, and you can often earn a few dollars for an empty cartridge. By purchasing refill kits you can reuse your cartridge rather than buying a new one, which means you’ll both save money and help the environment.
When it comes to saving ink, however, the key is to reduce the total amount of ink you use. Here are a few useful tips on how to save ink and therefore save money:
Shop for a printer with a low cost per page. Many printers have a low sticker price, but when you factor in ink costs, you may be paying more for them in the long run. Ink or toner costs tend to be inversely proportional to a printer’s price; high-end laser printers often have a very low cost per page, while budget inkjets frequently have high ink costs. But even for printers within a given price range, there may be considerable variation in running costs.
Bring your brochure printing in house. Some color lasers are capable of printing graphics, photos, and/or text at a quality suitable for use in basic marketing handouts or brochures. Buying a high-quality laser printer can reduce or eliminate the need and cost of sending those materials to a print shop. Investment in such a printer will pay for itself over time and then provide cost savings, as well as the convenience of on-demand 24/7 printing.
Get a printer with an automatic duplexer—and use it. Most business printers sold today—and many consumer printers as well— include (or offer as an option) an automatic duplexer, which lets you print on both sides of a sheet of paper. Several vendors now sell their laser printers with duplex printing as the default mode. Duplex (two-sided) printing is both eco-friendly and economical, as it can cut your paper use (and costs) nearly in half. Just remember, when you do need to print single-sided documents, to change the driver setting to simplex printing. Also, note that duplex printing is somewhat slower than simplex printing for a given document, as the duplexer has to flip the page over to print on the back.
Think before you print. You can reduce clutter and save ink and paper by only printing the material you actually need. Why print out the 4 pages of legalese at the end of a bank statement, or the 242 comments that follow an opinion piece? Do you really want a hardcopy of that 50-page report, or will reading it on screen suffice? Preview your document before printing; many documents (particularly Web pages) will print quite differently than they look on screen.
Check your printer’s software or driver settings. Most printers come with a user-friendly software interface that lets you access and tweak many of the printer’s functions. All come with (or instruct you to download) a printer driver—a program that controls the printer, converting files and commands into a format the printer can recognize. The driver offers a more direct way (and in some cases, the only way) to change printer settings, with all the settings accessible through a tabbed interface. To find the driver, open the Printers page (in some Windows versions called Devices and Printers) from the Start menu or the Control Panel, right-click on your printer’s name (or icon), and open the Printing Preferences tab. Whether you work from the software interface or the driver, our recommendations are the same. Look for ink saver or toner saver mode. Print in Draft mode except when presentation quality is required. Wherever possible, print in black instead of color. If your printer supports duplex printing, using it will enable you to save paper.
Be skeptical of low-cartridge warnings. Warnings that a given color cartridge is running low and needs to be replaced often start well before the ink level is actually a problem. The accuracy of such warnings can vary greatly between printer brands and models, and you don’t want to waste ink and money by replacing the cartridges too soon. In time you’ll learn whether your printer’s warnings are dire or premature. Until then, don’t rush to replace a cartridge, unless you notice degradation in the output quality or if you are starting a large and vital print job.
Take care of your ink and toner. With older ink cartridges, particulates may come out of solution and clog the nozzles. To prevent this, don’t overstock on ink cartridges so they extend past their “use by” date. Also, match cartridge capacity to how much you actually print, to avoid having large-capacity cartridges languish beyond their time. (It’s also a good idea to regularly clean the nozzles—your printer should have a setting that will clean the nozzles and print out a test sheet.)