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Seven Tips for Saving Ink

With rapid advances in technology, printers are becoming less expensive everyday, but people often end up spending too much money on ink! Numerous vendors allow customers to purchase ink at prices much lower than those of the manufacturers, yet there is another way to cut costs: conservation. It's certainly easy to waste ink, but it only requires a little extra effort to conserve it. The amount you save may not seem significant at first, but over a year and a lifetime, it can really add up. As Ben Franklin famously said, "A penny saved is a penny earned."

You often hear of the three "R's" in education: reading, writing, and arithmetic. But there are three "R's" that are essential in saving money on ink as well: recycling, refilling, and reducing. The first two R's don't save ink so much as they save money. Many businesses provided cash or discounts for used, empty inkjet cartridges from the original manufacturer. Postage to mail your cartridge is generally provided, and you can often earn a few dollars for an empty cartridge. By purchasing refill kits you can reuse (another R!) your cartridge rather than buying a new one, which means you'll both save money and help the environment.

When it comes to saving ink, however, the key is to reduce the total amount of ink you use. Here are a few useful tips on how to save ink and therefore save money:

  1. Use economy mode. Most printers allow you to select the "economy" or "draft" mode in the properties section of your printer. This means you will have a slightly lighter, less precise copy, but it will save ink. Use the economy mode any time you are printing a draft or a document, such as an informal letter, that does not need to be "presentation ready." As a side benefit the document will also print faster and dry quicker.
  2. Print only the portions you need. Be careful not to print an entire, multi-page document when you only need one or two pages. Word processing and other programs allow you to select a print range for your documents. This is especially important when printing pages from the Internet. Often if you print a webpage, you will receive a lot of needless links, logos, and advertisements at the end of the webpage, and these often end up printing out on a completely separate sheet of paper. To avoid this, do a print preview to see which pages have extraneous information, and cut those out of your print range.
  3. Sway it. When your printer warns you that your ink cartridge is running low, it's not yet time to replace it! Remove the ink cartridge from the printer and sway it softly from side to side, and then reinsert it. This will redistribute the last little bit of ink in the cartridge and often get you several more printed pages. You may even be able to repeat the process more than once to get some additional pages.
  4. Don't turn off your printer in mid-cycle. Never switch off your printer until it completes its cycle. If you turn it off while the cartridge is still moving, the printer's head will be forced to stop in the precise place where you turned it off. This may cause the printer nozzle to dry out and the ink to leak.
  5. Leave your printer on. If you think you will be using your printer soon, it's better to leave it on than to repeatedly turn it on and off. Your printer uses a tiny bit of ink during the initialization phase every time it is turned on.
  6. Use the black-only mode. If you have a printer that uses both a black cartridge and a color cartridge, and you're printing a black and white document, remember to change your printer properties to the black-only mode. Why? Even if you only have a black and white document, some printers automatically mix some of the color cartridge with the black to print the document. Over time, it's possible to use up a color cartridge even if you never print a colored document!
  7. Consider ink saving software. Several companies produce ink saving software, and some of these programs can be downloaded for free online. These programs generally work by optimizing printer data so that your printer uses less ink even while printing at high resolution.

Remember, as Earl Wilson once said, "Money in the bank is like toothpaste in the tube: easy to take out, hard to put back." Don't keep taking money out of the bank to spend on wasted ink!

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