Ways To Save When You Use Your Printer
Most printer manufacturers are quite negligent in telling you how to save money using their products (Surprise! Surprise!). Here are five little things that you can do today that will add up to big savings:
1. Check your printer's settings. Most printers come out of the box set to print at the highest-quality setting. The highest-quality setting may look nice, but it also uses the most ink or toner. And printer manufacturers make almost all of their money on replacement cartridges. Change the default to Draft or whatever your lowest-quality setting is called. That setting will be good enough for most jobs. In Windows XP, click My Computer/Control Panel/Printers and Faxes. Right-click Properties for the printer you want to control (there may be entries for several printers even if you just have one) and then click "Printer Preferences". In Windows 98 and ME, click Start, Settings, and Printers. When in doubt, click on Help.
Check the default color setting as well. You may not need to print everything in color. Just follow the paths outlined above and change the default setting to Black-and-White.
Note: many color printers do not have a Black-and-White option. Instead, they have a "Gray Scale" option, which uses the color cartridge. So in that case, you're not saving any money.
After defaulting to Black-and White, you can change back to Color by changing the setting after selecting File, then Print, then Propertise in most programs. The change to Color is a one-time-only switch and won't change the default.
2. Try to squeeze more on a page. You might be able to save paper by printing reference copies of documents. If you need to look at a long document, try printing 2 pages on one sheet. If you're using MS Word, for example, select File and then Print. Next to Pages Per Sheet, set the dropdown box to "2 pages". This will give you small type, but may still be readable. Try it to determine whether this is an option for you or whether the print is too small for you to read.
3. Use your printer at least once per week. The jets in a printer cartridge need regular use otherwise dried ink can block them. This will result in white streaks in your printing or a cartridge what will not work at all. Prevent this by printing a test page or running the printer's cleaning cycle. Cartridges should also be purged occasionally. Check your printer's manual for more information on purging. Lasers need to be cleaned regularly, too. Every few months, clean the paper path using a vacuum cleaner and damp cloth.
4. Consider refilling cartridges instead of always buying new ones. Printer companies are trying to deny you this option (it reduces their ink cartridge sales) and some people consider it more trouble than it's worth, but others swear by the resulting savings.
You can refill the cartridge on an inkjet several times, but don't let the cartridge run dry before doing it. Once the sponge in a cartridge runs out, the cartridge is garbage. Even if you can salvage the sponge, the dried ink may clog the jets and the print head can also be destroyed. Print heads reach very high temperatures and ink serves as a coolant. Refill the cartridge when it's half-full to avoid these issues.
Some cartridges have killer chips which prevent the cartridge from being reused. At least one company, colorfastink.com, sells resetters to get around that problem.
5. Don't buy a printer for every computer. You only need one computer for your home network. You can plug the printer into one computer and everyone can use it, much like many companies do where they have one printer for several computers.
1) Although the source of this article is the website above, the editor of CN wishes to express her sincere gratitude to Bill Shapiro for his invaluable advice and many contributions to this piece.
2) George Morris has pointed out that you can also save money by printing on both sides of a page. His printer has the ability to print a stack of odd pages. He then turns the stack over and re-feeds it to print on the other side of the pages with the even numbered pages. He, of course, is careful to make sure that Page 2 comes out on the back of Page 1. Mr. Morris has far more patience than the editor of this publication.