If you’ve ever had to monitor the printing costs of a desk-top printer, then you know how difficult they are to calculate precisely. Especially if you’re working from home and printing occasionally, you’ll be baffled by how quickly, in some cases, one or more colours seem to “drain” and need a replacement cartridge.
The first saving area is printing ink/cartridges. The debate whether you should use only OEM (original equipment manufacturer) is ongoing, and very hard to resolve. The rule of thumb is to give it a try: if your OEM cartridges cost a lot more, try a general-purpose one and see how it works: you may be pleasantly surprised!
Overall, you’ll find that web retailers, such as Amazon or Cartridgepoint, will almost always offer lower prices than high street or department store vendors. The only issue with them is speed of supply. Unless you do regular printing runs, then it’s just likely that you’ll run out of magenta at a critical printing moment… Then again, unless you happen to be based close to a particular shop, you’ll always have to stock up to avoid crises.
And don’t forget to set your default printing mode to “draft”. This will produce more acceptable results with laser than with ink-jet printers but it’s still a useful way to save ink. The same holds for setting the default to “black and white”, so as to avoid using colour unless it’s strictly necessary.
The second saving area is related to how much paper you use. This is in turn can be influenced by keeping a close eye on the size and formatting of your documents. Before you hit ‘print” make sure that you’ve reduced the document to an optimal number of pages, to avoid the last line spilling over the next page and requiring an additional sheet. So use “preview” layouts and work on them.
Pay particular attention to Excel files: print only the cells you actually need by selecting them and then checking the printing preview. Also take care to check the whole document for cells, as sometimes certain cells are mistakenly repeated in far-away parts of the document and end up increasing the number of pages printed.
Another area of savings is related to double-sided printing. Not all printers will have this feature but if your has it, make sure you learn how to make it work. This could halve your paper costs without requiring particular attention, as in the formatting tip above. In a similar vein, try to use re-cycled paper as much as possible. By re-cycled we mean paper that’s been printed on one side but is still blank on the other. It’ll do just fine for inter-office memos or document drafts, just make sure that there’s nothing sensitive on the other side!
It’s not a well-known fact that ink-consumption is influenced by the size of a printing run. Because of the ink use when the ink cartridge is “activated” on a printing run, much more ink is used if you print for example 20 sheets in discreet batches than if you print them all together. Independent tests have shown that considerable amounts of ink can be saved by reducing or eliminating “bite-sized” printing runs in favour of continuous ones…provided of course that they suit your purposes. This is however a fact that manufacturers often “forget” to pass on to their customers, i.e. you.