11 Small Ways to Save Big on Ink

By Julie Rains on 22 April 2010 (Updated 18 April 2011) 8 comments
Photo: buyalex

Printers are cheap but printer ink is pricey. One-time and day-to-day adjustments can help prevent waste and save money. Try these techniques to lower your office and home cost of ink.

1. Change the font type

Change the default font (often Times New Roman or Arial) to a lighter font, such as Century Gothic that uses less ink. According to an Associated Press article on Yahoo.com, the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay is adopting Century Gothic as the font of choice as a major money-saving move. To change your default font on MS Word, go to Format >> Font, select your font, and save as “Default.”

2. Reduce the font size

Reduce the font size to 10 or less — as long as you and your audience can read text comfortably.

3. Use draft setting

Choose the "draft" or "econo" print setting that uses less ink (making the overall print lighter.

4. Use copy services

Take major print jobs to the copy center at your office or nearby office supply store, where you can get cheap prints for significantly less per page than standard inkjet printing.

5. Get refills instead of buying new

Getting refills cost less than buying new. Be on alert for ink refill days at Walgreens. This year, on Earth Day, April 22, 2010, Walgreens will refill cartridges for $1 with a coupon — check your weekly ad circular for the coupon.

6. DIY refills

DIY refills are available from your favorite warehouse club or eBay. According to my dad, a DIYer, this approach can be messy but cost saving.

7. Recycle cartridges

Recycle cartridges by selling them to companies that buy used cartridges, selling them on eBay, or getting credit at Staples, putting money in your pocket or saving on future purchases. (Staples no longer gives immediate credit but rather gives credit through its rewards program.)

8. Buy remanufactured

Years ago, I tried and then stopped using this approach because my prints were essential components of a finished product and needed to be perfect; remanufactured cartridges dispensed uneven prints, hardly detectable to many but not acceptable quality-wise for me. So test this idea for quality, and make sure you are getting as many prints per cartridge as other options.

9. Use it up

Keep printing on nearly-empty cartridges until there is absolutely no ink left. And, instead of replacing cartridges or refilling ink immediately, change the font color to a color for which the cartridge still has ink (you won’t technically save on ink but you’ll delay spending).

10. Don't print

Use the Document Image Writer or a similar device to create electronic files of receipts rather than printing hard copies. Scan, rather than copy documents. Use a program like CutePDF to create PDF files instead of printing for your records.

11. Print selectively

Print only the information you need by using PrintWhatYouLike or software programs such as GreenPrint or EcoPrint2 as recommended by Nora as an eco-friendly way to save money at the office. Or, you can adjust print settings yourself or copy only the information that you need to a blank document, make adjustments (remove photos and extra lines), and specify print ranges to make sure that you print just what you need and no more.

Another idea: spend more on your printer, less on ink. Some printers may have more economical print settings, wasting less ink than cheaper models. Check prices of printers and ink refills before you buy.

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Guest's picture
lyr

#9: Honestly, which ink-jet printers allow you to use up the ink (or even more than 1/2) w/ out doing some hack to the printer that may render it useless? Or which printers now allow you to print in another color even if one you are not using is low?

Julie Rains's picture

I have an HP printer at home that keeps telling me that my ink is low, but I still get nice prints when there is just a miniscule amount of ink. To print in color, I change the font color on the document (highlight the text and change the color to something that isn't black) - this does annoy my kids sometimes, especially if they need to print a paper for school but teachers have never counted off for colorfulness.

Guest's picture
Anthony

Do a quick Google search online. If you really want, you can find eco-friendly fonts. For example, there's an eco-friendly version of Times New Roman.

Guest's picture

The tip to just not print has saved me quite a bit of resources the past 5 years, since my lousy printer ran out of ink and stopped working reliably.

Even working as a graphic designer, it's incredible how much I'm able to not have to print things out if the option doesn't present itself to me.

To me one of the biggest wastes of paper and ink are map directions. I personally write it out on a piece of scrap paper (at one point I spent a boring afternoon cutting up old cereal boxes into index cards), and writing it out actually helps me remember the directions while i'm driving (i.e. I hardly even need the card at all). I save on paper AND ink.

Guest's picture
Sharon Beaver

Has anyone heard of a Continous Ink System?  We bought one in Aug '08 and have bought replacement ink once for a total of maybe 75$ (for the unit, intital ink, and replacement ink).  And we print alot for homeschooling. 

Guest's picture
Guest

PRINTERS ARE SUCH A SCAM!! First off, they are a PIA to setup....you almost always have to use the manufactures software. This software is usually a borderline virus. Then, there is the EXPENSE of cartridges...the waste in our landfills from spent cartridges. I could complain about printers all day... Here is what I do instead:

I do a lot of heavy printing. Most is in B&W, and done on my trusty mid-nineties commercial laser printer. It took less the 2 minutes to set it up...plugs right in to the good ole' fashion printer port...no software required. The thing is built like a tank...will outlast 50 ink-jets from Wal-mart. It has faithfully printed tens of thousands of pages for me...VERY,VERY CHEAPLY. ( I refill my own toner..every 3000 pages or so)

For color, I use a Cannon All in One with wireless networking. This is a very modern printer..Only took 4 hours to get it up and running...ugh!!! It is about a sturdy as a paper cup. I must admit, it does make Beautiful Color prints. Plus,there is something to be said for printing from the hammock in the backyard. I have added a Continuous Ink System to keep the cost of use down. I can bulk ink cheaper than one Cannon cartridge for this thing. I highly recommend a CIS system for any ink-jet printer.

Guest's picture

It is very good also to always tune up your cartridges and check them for any leaks or wear. This can save you from poor printing quality and can ensure that ink production is regulated at all times without leaks and excess.

Guest's picture

Sometimes, the font style is the main reason why a page printed consumed more ink than usual. Changing font style to another style that’s still readable is usually enough.