Seven Ways To Cut Printing Costs

by Rich on October 17, 2008

Think you got a great deal on your printer? Think again. Manufacturers don’t make money selling printers—they make money selling ink. They price the printers low and the ink high, and you’ll have to keep buying those print cartridges.  It’s not unusual to spend much more on ink during your printer’s lifetime than you spent to buy the printer. However, there are a few things you can do to save on ink.

Consider third-party cartridges.  Printer manufacturers make and sell their own ink at a premium price.  Third-party cartridge companies are not associated with the major manufacturers. They either make their own ink and sell it for a discount or reprocess and sell original cartridges for less.  Major manufacturers claim that third-party ink can damage printers, but their claims are often overblown—after all, they have a financial interest in convincing people that expensive original ink is worth the cost.  That said, not all third-party ink is of good quality. Do some research and choose a reliable third-party provider, and you can save significant cash on your ink without damaging your printer.

Try an ink refill kit.  In the past, home refill kits were messy and difficult to use—and this was mainly because most kits were designed to work with any cartridge brand. Today, there are refill kits available specifically for different brands and models, making it easier to refill your own cartridges even if you’ve never done it before.  The kits usually come with bottles of ink, needles, and a cartridge holder. Depending on the brand, the kit may include additional tools.

Print in Draft or Economy.  Most printers have a setting that lays down less ink.  Your text will be lighter than normal, but if every document you print doesn’t have to look perfect, this setting is ideal.  For some printers, you have to go into your print settings and choose the less-ink option manually every time—printer manufacturers won’t make it easy for you to save ink.  But it’s worth it to remember.

Don’t print. This might seem obvious—but it’s the easiest way to save money on printing costs.  Store your documents electronically instead of printing them out. Use email instead of typing letters and printing them.  Share your pictures with your friends online instead of printing them out to keep in photo albums. When printing a long document, print only the pages you need.  You’d be surprised at how much you can save.

Reset your clock.  Some printer manufacturers sell ink cartridges with an expiration date.  The cartridges will stop working after a certain date, even if they still have plenty of ink left.  There are several work-arounds to this; one involves setting your computer’s clock back a year.  Bear in mind that on some email clients, this could mean your email will be buried a year back in your inbox as well.

Don’t use colour ink for a black-and-white print job. Colour ink costs more, and many printers will automatically print in colour even if you’re printing a page of black-and-white text.  You may have to remember to go into your print settings and change from colour to black and white each time you print.  But colour cartridges are usually smaller, so they run out faster than black ink—and they tend to be more expensive.  Stay away from using colour unless you actually need it.

Buy in bulk. You can get significant discounts on printer ink and paper by buying in bulk. You may be able to get bulk quantities of paper and ink from the original manufacturer for less than the cost of a single cartridge at an office supply store. This can be especially cost-effective if you’re printing photos.

Printer manufacturers make most of their profits from consumables.  But you can keep costs down by incorporating a few simple habits every time you print.  Set your printer to Draft or Economy, be sure to print in black and white, and print on both sides of a page when it’s convenient.  In general, avoid printing unless it’s absolutely necessary—store and share documents electronically instead.  When you buy a printer, look at the cost of ink instead of the cost of the printer itself when comparing prices.  With these simple tips, you can save money on ink and other consumables in the long run.

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