Cutting Costs: How To Save On Ink
Is Your Cartridge Really
Empty?: In March, 2005, a lawsuit
brought by a Georgia woman claimed that cartridges for certain
HP printers are programmed to expire on a certain date, whether
or not they're actually empty. An HP rep responded by saying
it's because the quality of ink can degrade over time.
It's possible that printer companies are using
tech to keep ink profits up. Whatever the truth of the matter,
you may want to check your favorite news search engine before
buying for reports about your prospective printer.
Buy Third-Party : You
don't have to buy ink cartridges from your printer's
manufacturer. Cartridges from independent sellers are often
cheaper, and work just as well.
You do have to be careful: badly-made
cartridges can result in poor-quality text and printer damage.
However, a good recommendation to a reputable firm could save
you a lot of money. Another option is refillable ink cartridges.
Some people swear by them, but I would be cautious -- the
possibility for leaks is, in my opinion, not worth the risk.
Go Mono: If
you don't use color a lot, think about getting a black-only
laser printer. The cost is initially a lot higher -- for
example, a toner cartridge for the Brother HL-5140 laser costs
$71, considerably more than the $25 for an Epson Stylus C84
inkjet. But when you factor in the number of pages you get per
cartridge, the Epson costs about 5 cents per page, while the
Brother ends of costing about 2 cents per page. (The cost of the
laser printer drum only adds .007 cents to each page.)
Join The Draft : Read
your printer manual and find out if your printer has a "draft"
mode. Draft modes use a lot less ink than normal printing modes
-- while not good enough for sending out, you can use it for
documents that are for your eyes only, and save some of ink.
Stick To Black Ink: Only
print in color when you need to. Color ink is way more expensive
than black ink, and often you don't need to use it. For example,
when you're printing a copy of some information on a Web page,
do you really need all those pretty colors?
Buy In Bulk : If
you tend to do a lot of printing, then you might want to look
into buying your ink cartridges in quantity. You can get some
good deals if you buy a lot at once.
Before You Buy, Check The Yield: As
with any product, it is always a good idea to do some research
before you actually buy. One of the things you should be
checking is the ink cartridge yield.
What is that? That is the number of pages that
a typical ink or toner cartridge may be expected to produce.
Most manufacturers estimate their yields based on coverage of
about 4 or 5 percent -- in other words, about 4 or 5 percent of
the printed page will actually have ink on it. So an ink
cartridge that has a yield of 450 based on 5 percent coverage
should be expected to print out about 450 pages assuming that
each page has about 5 percent of its surface covered by the ink.
This means, of course, that if you tend to
print pages that have a great deal of text on them, or that use
images, or that use a great deal of bold lettering -- your
results will vary greatly.
For example, take a typical inkjet printer
like the Epson Stylus C84, which costs under $100. An Epson
black ink cartridge that yields (according to the manufacturer)
about 450 pages runs about $25. The same printer uses four color
ink cartridges, each of which cost about $15 for a yield of
about 420 pages. (Keep in mind that you color ink coverage,
especially if you're printing photographs, is probably going to
be much higher than the 5 percent that the 420-page figure is
Unfortunately, there are few independent
sources that can tell you the true yield for each printer out
there. As a result, we have to rely on the manufacturers'
figures. But even using those as a guide, you can figure out
which printers will cost you more in the long run.