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10 simple ways to reduce your printing costs

It’s easy to take our printers for granted when printing documents, both at home and at work. Not many people think about the cost of the ink and the paper that’s being used. Your printer could end up costing you a lot more money than you think, and needlessly so.

By just making a few simple adjustments to your printing methods, you can print more and spend less.

1. Avoid printer repairs by printing a page weekly

A lot of inkjet printers need repairing when the ink nozzles get clogged from dried-up ink. Printing at least a page or two each week will stop this from happening. It doesn't have to be a 30-page document, just something small with a bit of colour to keep the ink flowing. A good page to print out is the Google homepage; it doesn't use much ink but it has all the colours on it.

2. The cost of your printer

What type of printer is the most cost effective, laser or inkjet? Well, ink cartridges cost less than laser toner, but inkjet printers run out quicker. Inkjet printers have a much lower upfront cost than laser printers. These are the sort of things you need to consider when buying a printer.

3. Stop turning your printer on and off

Some printers use more ink when they are getting ready to print after they have been switched off for a length of time, so put them in standby mode when not in use, and you should save ink in the long run.

4. Preview before you print

One of the biggest wastes of printer ink and paper is printing off unnecessary web pages or parts of documents that you can do without. Instead of printing straight away, simply select ‘print preview’ and check exactly what pages you are printing and whether or not you really need them. It only takes a few seconds but could save money on paper and ink cartridges. A ‘think before you print’ mentality encourages people to proofread before they hit print, to avoid costly reprints because of errors.

Another trick is to select draught mode as your default print mode, your device will print off documents without regard to the print quality. This way, your printing consumes a fraction of the ink and toner compared to other, higher quality settings.

5. Print fewer pages

Some printers come with duplex printing, which allows you to print documents on both sides of the paper. Why not go one further and decrease page margins and/or double-line spacing so you can fit more on a single page?

You can also drop down your font size, as this uses far less ink and paper. Avoid using big headers and the bold or underline features too. It’s also worth noting that some fonts burn through more ink than others. Switching fonts from Arial Black to Calibri can save on printing costs. If you absolutely need to print off single sheets, when finished why not use them as scrap paper or notes?

6. Use higher quality paper

Cheap paper is more likely to jam a printer, which not only wastes paper but uses more ink as well. By using higher quality printing paper, particularly paper made by your printer’s manufacturer, you’re likely to get better results, as the paper has been designed specifically with your printer in mind. It may cost more upfront, but you’ll get the best quality prints the first time with no need to reprint pages, so you’ll save money in the long run.

7. Buy compatible ink cartridges

Buying original ink cartridges can lower your risk of ink leakage, poor print out quality and short-lived cartridges. Having said this, compatible ink cartridges offer comparable quality to original branded cartridges, but at a fraction of the price. There are also recycled cartridges too, which can save you even more.

8. Think about what you actually need when buying a new printer

There’s a wealth of printers available with a host of features such as scan, copy, email, fax, Wi-Fi, and wireless smartphone printing. But don’t be seduced by features you don’t need. Make a list of features you actually need and shop around. If you are only going to print text documents, you don’t necessarily need a high-quality photo printer. Similarly, if you print photos often, you don’t want a printer designed specifically for text documents and office work.

9. Don't bulk print

If you need to print a lot and regularly, you can invest in a more expensive printer and accept that printing costs will be higher. Some costs are unavoidable, like printing high-quality photos. For the best results, you'll want to use photo paper and good quality ink, which for bulk printing of photos can be expensive. Or why not consider using a photo printer service? Most supermarkets have digital photo printing available, as well as a host of affordable online printing solutions.

10. Revisit suppliers

You might be spending too much without knowing it, so it is worth looking into new suppliers for your stationary. The market is very competitive at the moment because every business wants to save money. It’s important to investigate and shop around; do not change supplier lightly, what looks like a bargain product might not be what it seems. It can sometimes pay to spend a little more up front to save yourself a headache and extra cost later. Like previously mentioned, paper isn't just paper. Quality matters.

Implementing these few, simple ideas, it is possible to make significant savings to your overall printing costs. It’s also important to note that the people power is a strong force in reducing costs. If saving printing costs is on your employee’s radar they will be aware of it when they next need to print off a document.

Employers can often underestimate their employee’s resources of imagination, insight and opinion. Therefore, one of the best returns on investments for businesses is probably gained by educating staff.

Andrew Rushbury, Internet Ink (opens in new tab)