We get asked a lot of questions about printing and print equipment but there's one that tops the list for frequency - How do I save money on my printing bills? The truth is, there are a number of ways in which saving money can be achieved and very few involve you needing to lay out further sums of money with "it'll be worth it in the long-run" ringing in your ears.
So, being the helpful people we are, here is a list of ten things you could do to save money on your printing bills. Doing any one of these things will save you money, doing more than one should save you more money. These aren't 10-steps to saving money and in no way is this list in order of importance - just the order in which they were reeled off when we sat down and pooled our ideas.
1. Print Less
This may sound obvious, but it's the easiest way to save on your printing costs. Think about whether you actually need to print what you're about to send to the printer - do you really need that email on paper or can you get everything you need from it by just reading it on your computer screen.
2. Use Compatible Inks or Toners
Again, this may sound obvious but it can save you hundreds and hundreds of pounds per year. For instance, take HP's LaserJet P3015, arguably one of the most popular black and white printers around. HP's own branded print cartridge will print 12,500 pages and costs £151.00 - our own-brand compatible cartridge that will print the same amount of pages costs only £115.00.
Customers have in the past been put off using compatible cartridges as manufacturers lay on the scare tactics about warranty implications etc. - read our Original or Compatibles article for an impartial take on these rumours.
It is worth noting that the quality of print will be slightly lower from compatible inks or toners, but that's only an issue if you need top-notch quality for photos or "chargeable" work. We guarantee our own-brand inks and toners against faults and quality issues so you have nothing to lose by trying them.
3. Print on Both Sides of the Paper
Ok, so this isn't possible for everyone as not all printers have duplex units - but most will allow you to "manually duplex" print. Duplex printing means that you print on both sides of a sheet of paper theoretically halving the amount of paper you use.
4. Change Your Font
Now this is a great tip and not many would think of it as a way to save money. A Dutch printing company did some research and found that Century Gothic and Times New Roman fonts use far less ink or toner than Arial and Sans Serif. In fact, they found that Century Gothic uses around 30% less ink than Arial. They carried out a case study at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay who spent around $100,000 per year on ink; they switched from Arial to Century Gothic and saw a saving of around $10,000 per year.
Reducing your font size is another great way to save money; if you normally type in font size 12, reduce it to 11 or 10.
Avoid using the “bold” button. The simple fact is that the bigger or thicker your text looks, the more ink or toner you will need to use to get it on to paper.
5. Print in Draft
Set your default print quality to "Draft" or "Rough" so that you use less ink or toner. You can still change the quality when you need top-notch prints but it means you’re less likely to print web pages and letters in photo quality when you don’t need to.
6. Use Print Preview
Again, this one seems obvious but how many of us actually do it? Using the Preview function before sending a print job to the printer can show you exactly how many pages will be used to print your job. By doing this you can then select Pages 1 to 2 if that's all you need. This is especially relevant when printing a web page; you always get an extra page telling you the page URL and the time and date you pressed print – a complete waste.
7. Print in Black and White if You Have a Colour Printer
No explanation needed on this one; printing in black and white means you don't use colour ink or toner - and the black one is normally the cheapest to replace. Set your printing defaults to print in black and white and you'll save money.
8. Change Your Printer
This one seems extreme but is still very relevant - and don't think it only applies to businesses! Technology is always improving and this definitely applies to the world of printers.
The chances are that if you're using an old printer, you're probably using way more ink that you need to be. Old printer inks dry out if you don't use them, they're more expensive as the demand for them declines and you'll be limited to where you can get them and that means the stockists have you over a barrel.
Another reason to consider changing your printer is if your printing requirements have changed. Think about how much you were expecting to print when you bought the printer and how much you actually are printing now - it's always something people underestimate. Point 3 on our list is printing in duplex - does your printer have a duplex unit? If not, think about how many multi-page documents you print and how much money halving your paper usage could save you.
Cost-per-page is something else to consider. When you bought your printer you may have gone in with "I’m going to spend as little as possible on this thing" in the back of your mind. The harsh reality of this is that the less you spend on the printer purchase itself, the more you're going to pay for each page that comes out of it.
Take the Canon i-SENSYS LBP7010C for example; it's a colour laser printer that costs just over £82 but it will cost 5.33 pence for every full-page letter you print. If you print the same page on the Canon i-SENSYS LBP7780C it will only cost 1.85 pence but the printer costs just over £305. With a difference of only 3.48 pence per page, it would take some 8,213 pages printed to make back the extra £282 you spend on the initial purchase: This seems a lot until you consider that this is only 684 pages per month for you to break even in the first year – keep this printer for 2 or more years and you're well in-pocket.
9. Go for Managed Print
Print contracts aren't something to be scared of and can genuinely save you stacks of money. Think of it like a mobile phone contract; for a set fee per month you get a certain amount of inclusive prints (like your minutes) and in the event that you go over this amount you pay a per-page fee (just like your mobile phone bill). It's all laid out in black and white from the start so you always know what you're being charged and how those charges are calculated. The great thing about managed-print contracts is that they give you an upgraded warranty on your printer, so in the unfortunate event that your printer stops working, you'll get an engineer out to you a lot quicker than if you were on "pay-as-you-go" - and all the parts and labour are included. You don't pay for your toners; you just call a number, give your PIN, and the next day your toners are delivered to you. A lot of our managed-print contracts also include the printer hardware so you have nothing to pay out for at the start of your contract.
10. Buy Inks Less Frequently
This doesn't mean stop buying ink altogether (although not printing at all would save you money!) - what we mean here is order more than one cartridge at a time. Printware give discounts to customers who order all four toners for their colour laser printer rather than just one or two because it saves us money on processing your order. Although we don't advertise it, we would also give discounts on pretty much any order if the customer is ordering larger quantities. Regardless of the price of the actual print cartridge, it's a good idea to think about delivery charges as well. We only charge £3.99 for standard delivery but even this adds up over the year – ten deliveries equals £40 in delivery charges! And lets not forget the environmental impact of all of those lorries delivering our inks.
by Andy Leighton