Printer cartridges are the biggest expense in any home office. Here, we explore 11 easy ways to save on ink cost as well as cut down on your printing carbon footprint.
Being diligent about printing expenses does not begin and end with buying a cheap printer. It’s the cheaper models that actually cost you more on ink in the long run. If you’re not mindful about your ink usage, printing gets expensive fast. Knowing how to manage your printer resources will help every dollar go a long way. Check out these helpful tips to keep your home printing costs down.
1. Print in draft mode or go for advanced printer settings color printer mode
Printers have different modes designed to manage the speed and quality of your prints. Each mode uses different amounts of ink as well. When you’re printing worksheets for reading, note taking, or editing, you don’t need premium print resolution. Draft mode is designed to produce prints quickly, using the least amount of ink. It’s not ideal for printing resumes, but for homework assignments it’s great. If you can’t find draft mode, you adjust your printer some other way. After clicking on Print, go to the Advanced Settings* and look for Color Printing Mode. Select Grayscale from the list. In the same window, look for Output Quality and select Normal.
*If you can’t find Advanced Settings or the Advanced button, after clicking on Print, click on More settings
and then Print using system dialog.
Click Preferences button on the system dialog and then click the Advanced button.
2. Use both sides.
Duplex printing is an industry term for printing on both sides of a page. A good number of printers today are designed to automatically duplex print, cutting the amount of paper used in half. If your printer doesn’t automatically duplex, there are easy and efficient ways to do it manually with only a couple additional steps.
3. Reduce document size.
Most people consider the documents they print to be somewhat established and static. The reality is that there’s a lot of dead space available on each page, especially for Word documents. When you’re editing your work or printing out reading material, a couple of simple tweaks can double or quadruple the amount of information you put on each page. The easiest for Word docs is to use smaller margins and line spacing. This trick will put more words on each page, which means fewer pages per print out.
If you have a lengthy PDF you need to print, and the typeface is clear, you can change your print settings to put two pages side-by-side on each page. Duplex your prints front to back, and that’s four pages printed per sheet of paper. Sure, the font will be smaller, but often no harder to read than the typeface used in many trade paperback novels. If your eyes are sharp or you have a trusty pair of reading glasses, this is an excellent way to make the most of your printing.
4. Use your preview to cut out what you don’t need.
When printing articles from online, double check your print preview. Many websites will include the comments section and advertising when you print out their articles. If you don’t want or need the comments, choose to print only the pages which have content. This move takes mere seconds, but can help prevent six, eight, ten pages or more worth of waste. Some websites feature a print option that removes images and ads from your print, and some others feature a “read only” mode designed to make your reading experience easier and more book-like. Keep an eye out for these options as well.
5. Proofread final drafts before you print.
I know, final drafts are supposed to be “final,” but we’ve all been there. You’ve printed out something you think is ready to submit, and then notice it right there on the first page, a glaring misspelling or something incredibly ungrammatical. You then end up printing a new updated copy and throw the previous draft in the wastebasket. Avoid doing this! Meticulously look over your work before you do a final print. Or if you find a typo on a page, reprint that page only if it won’t affect the other pages on your set of documents.
Another trick: read your paper aloud. Not only will reading aloud help you locate typos and other mistakes, it also shows you where your writing sounds unnatural.
6. Reuse waste paper as scrap.
Just because there’s something printed on it doesn’t mean it’s all used up. Using the back side of printed pages to take notes is one approach to making sure you get the most out of paper before sending it to the recycler. Another option is using the margins for small notes, like shopping lists and to-do reminders, as well as instant bookmarks.
7. Switch up your font choices.
Some fonts are better than others when it comes to ink use. Research on different typefaces found that thicker and bolder fonts require enough ink to cost more over time. While these findings are clearly more pressing for businesses and organizations who print a lot, changing the font on documents you’re printing can save you ink and then money over time.
8. Unplug printer when not in use.
Printers today are pretty efficient. However, electronics left plugged into outlets when not in use draw passive energy away from the circuit, which costs you money over time. Unplugging your printer when not in use may not save millions in itself, but when you unplug electronics you aren’t using, the savings add up quickly.
9. Use compatible cartridges.
Once you buy a printer, the biggest ongoing expense you’ll have is probably replacing ink cartridges. Most manufacturers produce budget-friendly printers at near cost with the understanding that people will need to purchase ink regularly. Brand name original cartridges can cost upwards of thirty or forty dollars per refill, which gets costly fast. The solution? Compatible ink cartridges from reputable sources. Remanufactured compatible cartridges use many of the same components as name brand cartridges, recycled and refurbished to meet the original specifications and quality standards. Most, if not all, compatible cartridges are cheaper by at least 40 to 50 percent than originals. Compatible toner cartridges can be as much as 75 percent cheaper than original brand toners.
10. Bulk up or buy higher yield cartridges.
Buying a lot of something makes it cheaper, so long as you use it. Wholesale retailers like Costco® and BJ’s Wholesale Club® are beloved by families for just this reason. This guiding principle applies to more than gallon-sized jugs of yellow mustard, though. When shopping for print supplies, consider buying bigger increments to get a better deal. There are quite a few ink cartridges that come in high yield and extra high yield containers that hold more ink at cheaper prices. You can also find ink sets that carry black and color cartridges at a lower price than if you bought them individually. And, sure, you may not be able to use a whole box of paper this week, but chances are you will by the time your little one graduates from college. If you don’t have space, consider reaching out to close friends and family to see if they want to split the volume with you.
Buying in bulk is not just economical, it also reduces the amount of cartridges you use making it the more sustainable choice.
11. Re-evaluate your printer.
If you’re spending a lot of money frequently replacing ink cartridges and your printing mostly text documents, it might just be your printer that’s the problem. Printers are designed to fulfill certain roles and perform specific tasks.
Cheaper inkjet printer models, marketed as good for home users who don’t print much, become very expensive quickly once you realize the measly amount of ink the cartridges contain. If you are printing more black and white documents than color, consider getting a budget-friendly laser printer as it prints black and white documents more efficiently and uses cartridges that print pages in the thousands. Though the initial cost of a laser printer and toner may be higher than your standard inkjet, the cost per page is significantly lower (7 cents for toner vs 20 cents for inkjet).
Another factor to consider is that older printer models become less efficient the older they get. Sometimes, spending on a new unit that will more efficiently accommodate your needs can cost much less in the long run than sticking with an operational printer that you’ve had for several years now.
Home printing doesn’t have to be expensive. These simple suggestions, designed to get more out of your paper and ink, not only drastically reduces the amount you spend but also lessens the amount of resources you use, making your carbon footprint smaller.