How many times have you gone to print some important document only to see the “low ink level” light start flashing? So, you pull out a replacement cartridge, and pop it in the printer, only to have another cartridge light start flashing a few dozen pages later.
It’s frustrating, especially when you think about how much each of those cartridges cost and how they never seem to last that long. You might replace one and then feel like you’re replacing it again in just a month, even if you don’t print that much. That’s $24 to $50 of ink that just seems to vanish in a flash.
When you total it up, printer ink is one of the most expensive liquids you can buy. It can range from $13 to $75 an ounce. In other words, you could buy more than 750 gallons of gas for the cost of a gallon of ink.
Just like gasoline, then, you want to get as much mileage as you can out of every drop of ink. That’s why our sponsor, Epson, wanted to share these helpful tips for creative ways to save on printer ink.
1. Ditch the ink cartridges
One of the big problems with inkjet printers is the cartridges. The manufacturer has to wrap a small amount of ink in an oddly-shaped plastic shell with sensors to gauge ink use. That’s going to bring the cost up, plus we already mentioned that “empty” cartridges often have a good amount of ink left.
That’s why our sponsor Epson has decided to explore another way of doing things with the Epson EcoTank Supertank printers. Instead of removable cartridges, the printer has permanent ink reservoirs. When the level gets low, you fill up the ink reservoir from a bottle.
That might not sound any different from replacing an ink cartridge, but it does have benefits. The first benefit is that you’re never throwing out an “empty” cartridge with ink still inside. That means you get to use every drop that’s in the bottle. You can also easily top off the reservoir before a large printing job to make sure there are no interruptions.
The second and more important benefit is that a bottle of ink is much easier to make than a cartridge, so the price is lower. In fact, a bottle of ink is just $13 (versus $20 for a typical Epson cartridge), which makes a set of four (Black, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow) just $52.
Even better, Epson says that a single set of bottles will last for two years of printing! Of course, everyone prints a different amount every year, so Epson got a bit more specific and said that for the cheapest models each bottle set should last for 4,000 black pages and 6,500 color pages.
Consumer Reports did some math and figured out that with a regular Epson printer you’d need 20 sets of cartridges costing a total of $800 to print the same amount. In other words, you save $750 in ink costs with an EcoTank.
We should also point out that all EcoTank printers come fully filled and with a bottle of each ink color, so out of the gate it should last for two years before you need to buy anything else. Click here to learn more benefits of an Epson EcoTank printer.
Of course, even with an EcoTank, it still pays to fix your fonts and only print when you need to. That leads us to our other suggestions. Keep reading to find four additional ways you can save money on ink costs.
2. Fix the font
A middle-school student found after doing a science experiment that switching fonts from Times New Roman to Garamond could save the government $467 million a year on printing costs.
Unfortunately, his calculations were a bit off because Garamond just prints at a smaller size and that’s why it used less ink in his test. If you bump up the font size for readability, it uses the same amount as Times New Roman. However, if you don’t mind reaching for a magnifying glass, there’s no reason you can’t print with a smaller font or at a smaller font size. It will certainly save money.
In fact, try printing two or even four pages per every sheet of paper. You can do this by clicking the drop-down menu next to “Pages per sheet” in your printer options.
Even though Garamond was a bust as an “ink-saving font,” there are other fonts out there designed to save ink. EcoFont is one of the more popular ones. It has tiny holes in every letter so it uses 25 percent less ink, but it’s still easy to read.
You can also lower the quality of your prints in the advanced settings. You shouldn’t ever need to go above 300 dots per inch (dpi). Experiment with lower resolutions or using draft mode for unimportant prints. Print in black and white when you can as color ink is more expensive.
3. Selective printing
Ever try to print a webpage off the internet? You may have wasted tons of ink printing ads, navigation bars, images and more. What if you could print only the parts of a page you wanted to?
PrintWhatYouLike is a tool that lets you do just that. It’s a website that takes another webpage and lets you choose what to print. Just paste in an address and you’ll be able to alter or remove any segment of a page.
4. Print past empty
You may have more ink left in your cartridge than your printer realizes. It may tell you that your ink and toner are empty. In reality, you could have as much as 30 percent more life left.
Keep printing until you see the ink start to run out on the page. Or do away with ink cartridges entirely.
5. Don’t print at all
If you think about it, you might not need to print as much as you do. Online receipts and confirmations, for example, work just as well in digital form and don’t take up any room. You can always print them out later if you need a paper record.
To create digital documents, grab a free PDF printer like doPDF, for example. You just tell a page to print like normal, but select doPDF as the printer. In seconds, you’ll have a digital PDF file of your document. Learn more ways to keep track of your receipts and other documents digitally.