(1) Print Only as a Last Resort
This is rule one in the new world of small, replacement ink cartridges. You will be amazed at how much less printing you will perform, how much ink will be saved, and how little your wastebasket is used if you get into this habit.
Go through all corrections, modifications and tweaking of your document or photo before printing. Save previous drafts on your computer if you desire, but hold off on the final document before printing.
(2) Use Draft Mode
If you are like me, and like to see a printed version of a document or photo before the final product is ready, set your printer to draft mode. Make sure it is the lightest mode possible and still be legible. Setting the printer to draft mode takes less than 10 seconds. The saved ink will add up over time, especially when printing 10 to 20 page documents, or printing multiple copies.
(3) Print in Black and White
Look at the document you are printing and consider what it is being used for. Do you really need the colour border? Black and white printing is more inexpensive, and provides a better yield in terms of the number of copies. Sometimes a black and white or shaded copy may actually look better. This isn’t to suggest you create a black and white world, but use colours for printing judiciously.
(4) Scan and Email Documents
Instead of making copies of written material received, utilise the scan function of your computer when you can. If it is a document you plan to give to a third person, consider emailing it. It usually takes a little longer to scan, but not much more so. Your computers storage capacity should outlive your printer cartridge. Additional storage, like flash drives, may be less expensive than replacement printer cartridges.
(5) Know Your Replacement Cartridge and Cost per Copy
This is good advice for someone in the market for a new, inexpensive printer. Look at not only the cost of a replacement cartridge, but the number of copies the replacement cartridge can be expected to deliver.
Replacement cartridges of most personal printers can be expected to produce about 200-400 black and white copies. For colour ink cartridges, expect half that amount. Divide the cost of the replacement cartridges by the number of copies expected from the cartridge and you will come up with your cost per copy figure.
(6) Refill your Cartridges Yourself
If you pump your own gas, you shouldn’t be afraid to refill your ink cartridges. A refill kit will cost between $15 and $25 depending on whether you are refilling black and white or color cartridges. The kits will usually contain enough ink for several refills. One caveat, use replacement gloves when refilling, or be prepared to get ink on your hands. Ink is not easy to remove. Anticipating the mess, many kits now come with rubber surgical gloves. You can save up to 80% of the cost of ink by replacing it yourself.
(7) Don’t Trust Your Computer
Your computer, or printer software, may be telling you the toner cartridge is low when it really isn’t. In testing by PCWorld.com, it was found that indicator lights began to appear when as much as 40% of the ink in the cartridge was unused.
On my printer, I can usually get another 100-150 copies before the cartridge is really out of ink. Take the cartridge out, shake it, and determine if there is really any ink remaining.
(8) Keep the Print Nozzle Heads Clean
Doing so will keep the printer from clogging, printing smears and wasting copies. A cotton swab dipped in a little rubbing alcohol should take car of any residue built up on the nozzle heads. Just be very careful not to touch the gold contact leads. It will only take a few minutes every few weeks, and is time well spent.
(9) Before Any Large Print Job, Run a Diagnostic Test
This is especially true if you are running a large colour print job. The diagnostic test will be a single page, and can show if a nozzle is clogged (poor print quality and smearing), low ink (faded colours) or improper alignment of the cartridges. It is best to find this out on the first page of the job, rather than on page 20.
(10) Consider XL Cartridges
Cartridges with high yield can produce up to two thirds more copies than a standard cartridge. But because of price variations between different cartridges, use the cost per copy formula to determine whether you will save money.