Despite the rise of paperless communications, there’s still a great amount of value placed on a printed document. But as you may know, printing costs can be substantial to your business if not properly understood and monitored.
Even replacing the cartridges in an office printer is an expensive business. The same goes for paper – according to sustainability charity WRAP Green Office Guide, the average office worker in the UK uses up to 45 sheets of paper a day, over half of which ends up in the bin.
There are many ways you can monitor your printer use and all are fairly simple and logical. Before you start to look at ways to reduce your printing costs, it’s important to know a few key pieces of information.
Why is printer ink so expensive?
Printer manufacturers say they need to invest a great deal in research and development for a substance that has to remain stable at very high temperatures, be capable of being jetted accurately on to paper at high speed and dry almost immediately. This leads to the high costs.
How long do ink cartridges last unopened?
It can be tempting to stockpile cartridges, especially if they’re under special offer. But if you look on the packaging they usually have a “use by” date and this is often also when the warranty expires for the cartridge. This is generally between 18 and 24 months from the date of manufacture.
How long do ink cartridges last?
This hinges on so many factors that it’s almost as impossible to answer as the question “how much does printer ink cost?” There is no actual specific answer to this question, but here are a few things to consider:
- The size of the cartridge you have – in theory the bigger the cartridge, the longer it will last.
- Your printer’s efficiency – if your printer is prone to blockages, it will inevitably use more ink. Keep it clean and you’ll get more prints for your ink.
- How often you print – quite simply, the more you print the quicker your cartridge will run out.
- What sort of printing you are doing (i.e. text/image heavy) – you’re likely to use more ink if your printer is used predominately for images.
- The type of cartridge (i.e. ink or toner) – a toner cartridge will last much longer than an inkjet, so take this into consideration when you’re making your original printer purchase.
How to make printer ink last longer
- Opt for simple fonts: If you’re printing text in a more complex font, you’ll end up using more ink. Keep your words small and skinny to cut back on ink – Arial and New Courier are two of the best fonts, at size 12 and below.
- Proof for perfection: Once you’ve finished writing the document you need to print, give it a couple of rounds of proofing. This way, you’ll be able to get rid of any bits you don’t think are necessary and save on ink when printing.
- Clear the clogs: A bit of TLC on your printer can help make your printer ink last that little bit longer. Use a cotton wool bud to unblock any potential clogs and your ink will be able to flow much easier and not get congealed.
- Alter your printer settings: You can take manual actions to cut back on your ink usage which, in the long run, will help make your cartridges last longer. Choose a greyscale print, have multiple pages per sheet or just opt for a draft quality style.
How to store your ink cartridges
When storing your cartridges, there are a few things you need to take into consideration to help preserve their lifespan.
- Do not store your cartridges in direct sunlight – choose a cupboard or an area away from a window.
- Opt for a dark and dry location, no hotter than 29 Celsius.
- Keep them upright at all times.
- Keep out of the reach of children.
Calculating your printing costs
To make things easier, we’ve devised a simple formula which you can use as a printing cost calculator. It’ll help you get to grips with your printing spend and whether your cartridge choice is economical enough for you. Plus it’s really easy to use and will help you discover your printing costs per page.
To put this formula into practice you’ll need to determine the page yield of your ink cartridges, which in simple terms means how many pages your cartridge will print. This information can usually be found on your printer manufacturer’s website, along with pricing details.
For your black and white ink calculations you’ll only need the price of the black cartridge, but you will need to input the price of all of the cartridges for colour calculations: black, cyan, magenta and yellow. Once you have this information you can input it into the formula and calculate your printing costs per page.
While this is a very useful tool, a variety of other factors can also impact your business’ printing spend so we’ve come up with a number of tips that can help you cut down your print costs.
Do you really need to press print?
Before you hit print on that document, take a moment to stop and consider whether you really need it as a printout. Think about whether or not your colleagues can share documents or if they are likely to be discarded after meetings. Also make sure you utilise your preview button before sending your documents off to print. You can save on reprinting by double checking the document for spelling errors or format issues.
Are you using the best format?
Just changing your page format can save money on your printing costs. By reducing the amount of white space on your documents and introducing slightly smaller margins, you can make the most of every sheet you print. Alternatively, look at your printer settings and print double sided to cut your paper usages in half. Plus, printing multiple pages per sheet for internal presentations can cut your usage down even further.
Internal or external?
Try to use the right paper to suit different situations. For professional looking external documents, use a high quality paper that will make a lasting impression. Whereas for internal documents, reduce ink and toner usage, as well as paper, by setting your printer to draft mode. This will instantly use less ink for each print, suits less important printouts and will help your company to save money. Then just simply reset your printer back to photo quality for external documents.
Have you got the right printer?
You might think you’re saving money by not splashing out on an up-to-date printer, however by upgrading to a new model, you can actually save money in the long run and make your printing process run a little smoother. Why? Because older printers tend to be less efficient for both ink and paper than most printers manufactured today.
Fit more on your page
One way to save paper is by looking at the default formatting on all your business PCs. Using a smaller font size for letters, documents and notices will enable you to fit more text on a page. The print should be big enough to read comfortably, but it doesn’t have to be huge. Similarly, minimising the margins around the edges ensures you waste less of the print space available.
Print both sides of the page
Often, when we send documents to print, we only use one side of the paper. But if you set your default printer settings to double-sided, you could halve your paper usage in an instant. If you’re printing something out for reference, only print the sections you need. If you don’t need the images, contents table or index, delete them from the document before sending it to print.
Use paperless technology
With so many ways to communicate digitally, there’s really no need to print memos or photocopy receipts. Why not save paper by sending them via text message, voicemail or email, or by taking a picture and sending it from your phone. You’ll reduce the amount of paperwork, speed up delivery and save time.
Use, re-use then recycle
Throwing your used paper in the recycling bin should be the last step. Before you send it to be pulped, use paper that has only been printed on one side for note paper or instead of Post-its, or put it in your photocopier to use the blank sides. Making your own notepads will cut your stationery costs and help the environment.
Choose recycled paper
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, paper can be recycled up to seven times. Using recycled paper in your business won’t just help save our forests and preserve the natural habitats of many rare species, it also uses a fraction of the water and energy to create new virgin paper. It also reduces landfill, where the paper would rot creating methane, one of the most powerful greenhouse gases. If your business uses recycled paper, it can contribute to your corporate and social responsibility policy. And if your consumers and clients appreciate that your company is green, you may even attract more customers and business.