HOWTO: Save Money on Printing Costs
Tired of shelling out big bucks to replace yet another empty ink cartridge? Nobody is happy about the high cost of home and small office printing. Paper prices are rising, and the cost of brand-name printer ink cartridges has always been outrageous. Here are some tips for slimming down your printing budget...
Printing On a Budget
The most important money saving tip I can offer is this: Don’t buy OEM ink cartridges. What's OEM? That's just shorthand for the "Original Equipment Manufacturer". In other words, if you have a Canon, Epson or HP printer, don't buy Canon, Epson or HP branded cartridges. The same goes for other printer manufacturers -- I'm not singling out those brands.
The dirty little secret of the printer industry is that they make far more profit from the consumable inks than they do on the printer itself. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for capitalism... but I'm also big on saving money where I can.
There are many third-party remanufacturers of used inkjet cartridges that produce results perfectly acceptable for home, school, and business uses. In many cases, refilled ink cartridges will give you more ink than they did fresh from the factory. The quality and fade-resistance of some refilled cartridges may be a bit less than OEM inks, but for most purposes that is not a problem.
See my related article The Truth About Discount Ink Cartridges for more info on discount inkjet refills and store brand inkjet cartridges. (Check out the reader comments there, as well, for some interesting tidbits that may be relevant to your specific printer or type of usage.)
More Tips to Save on Printing
Even if you decide to stick with the more expensive OEM cartridges, here are several other ideas to help you save on overall printing costs. I'll list them in the order of maximum impact.
If you have a color inkjet, think about NOT printing your photos at home. The convenience is nice, but there's no quicker way to drain those red, yellow and blue ink cartridges than by printing full sheets of color photos. Check out online photo printing services such as Shutterfly and others that I've written about in my Online Photo Printing article. Their prices may well be cheaper than printing photos at home, using ink and paper of comparable qualities.
And while we're talking about color, think about other documents as well. Most things such as emails, web pages, and even charts and graphs can be printed in greyscale, to avoid using the more expensive color inks. You'll find the option to print in greyscale or black & white under "Settings", "Properties" or "Preferences" when you hit the Print button. This is especially important if your printer uses a cartridge that combines the black ink with the colors. You might run out of a single color (red, blue or yellow) and have to discard the cartridge, even though some of the other colors are still partly full.
If you print a lot of black-and-white stuff in your home office or small business, consider a cheap laser printer instead of an inkjet. Laser technology generally yields lower cost-per-page than inkjet.
Print on both sides of a page when printing documents of many pages. It may take a bit of thought to lay out a document for double-sided printing, and on some printers you may have to reload a stack of pages to print the second side. But your paper costs are immediately halved.
Another trick I often use when printing large documents is to print multiple pages per sheet of paper. Most printers will let you choose 2-up, 4-up or even more pages per sheet. My HP OfficeJet Pro can print up to 16 pages per sheet, but I find that 4-up is about as small as you want to go in most cases, and still get a readable document. Let's say you have a 100-page document that you want to print. Combining double-sided printing with the 2-up or 4-up option can cut your printing costs by as much eight times.
Use your printer's "draft" or "economy" printing mode, or reduce the number of dots-per-inch that are printed. Not only will your ink last longer, pages will print faster too. Draft copies will be noticeably fainter, but still quite legible. When you need the best quality final copy, it's easy to switch settings for one last printing.
On a related note, software such as Preton Saver can automatically examine your printed pages and do various optimzations to reduce the amount of ink needed. The software promises to "save you up to 70%" in inkjet printing costs, and claims to produce better quality than your printer's draft or economy mode. I've tested PretonSaver and found that it works surprisingly well. There's a free 30-day trial of Preton Saver, after which you can pay $29 for a lifetime license.
Shrink your font size to save ink and paper. The difference between 14 and 11 point type is about 27 per cent, but most people can easily read the small font. Tweaking the spacing between lines of text can also fit more on a page, saving paper costs.
The font face that you use also makes a difference in printing costs. Arial is the most popular font, but tests by Printer.com showed that Century Gothic used 31 per cent less ink! Times Roman is a good balance between classic style and cost savings. Avoid bold styling to save even more ink.
And finally, don't print on paper at all, if you can get away with it. Printing to a PDF file provides a high-quality document that can be saved on a hard drive indefinitely, without using any expensive paper or ink.
Do you have your own tips for saving money on printing? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 19 Aug 2013
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- HOWTO: Save Money on Printing Costs (Posted: 19 Aug 2013)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved