Jan 31

The Evil that is you Printer … part 2, saving money

Save on printing costs

Before you work out how much your printer costs to run … take a deep breath

So now we know how printers are designed to bleed you dry, it’s time to start saving money on your printer costs.

Forgive me, but I am going to assume that you are already finding ways to avoid printing as much as possible so these tips are designed to save you money on those times you really do need to print.

What’s the first step?

No matter the size of your organisation, the first step is to know how much you are spending already. Larger charities probably already have this at their fingertips. By which I mean they can send an email to their finance/accounts department, and after an audible moan and a week’s wait you’ll have your answer.

For a smaller organisation, you’ll probably have a part-time accountant, or it’s one of the never-ending duties of the office manager.

If you don’t have separate nominal account codes for your printing costs (something well-worth requesting at the end of your project) then you’ll need to make sure you are covering all the costs, including:

  • Ink
  • Paper
  • Repairs
  • External printing costs (separately for larger projects and for printer downtimes)

Some of these may come under different codes, so be thorough.

You’ll want a year’s worth of data, two if there has been a significant increase/decrease in organisational size. If that is the case, break it down for a per person cost for the year. Yeah, I know, the best way is price per page, but this gets a tad more difficult as printer supplies and paper orders rarely match up. But if you have the time, it is worth a go.

Either way, this gives you your base figure.

Now, how to go about saving money?

Generic Ink

Pretty much every printing manufacturer will tell you that using generic (or non-OEM) products will void your warranty. A lot of the time, the people who make the OEM products are the same people who make the generic products, meaning there is little or no difference is their quality. Sometimes they do reduce their tolerances a bit, to reduce the manufacturing costs, meaning that there is occasionally a few more dud cartridges. But you will have the option of sending them back for a refund or replacement.

The only way a manufacturer is going to know if you aren’t falling for their extortion racket is when the machine is faulty and they send a repair man. And I have never met one who is remotely interested in what cartridges you use, because they never contribute to the machines failure. Never. And, of course, their pay is not reliant on you buying over-priced ink. If you were really worried, you could keep a set of nearly-dead original cartridges on hand to put in the machine for when the repair man visits. But that would be naughty. So I can’t recommend that.

As it were.

Printer settings

It’s worth familiarising yourself with your printer settings. Whatever you are printing, one you open up the printer control panel (Ctrl-P on Word and, well, pretty much everything else) you will find your printer options. Sometimes you will need to go to advanced settings, but either way you find ways to control quality, double-sided printing, draft printing and of course, black and white/monochrome printing. Remember, you can also print multiple pages on one piece of paper, which may not be great for every situation, but is certainly worth considering. Very easy, very quick, and in combination, pretty effective.

Make these options the default settings on everyone’s machines, meaning they don’t have to worry about getting it right each time.

Print to pdf

Instead of printing a hard copy, print it as a pdf and send to whoever needs to read it. Including yourself!

There are so many (free) options these days, assuming your software does not come with an option for that already. A quick online search will reveal loads, CutePDF and Foxit reader being my favourites.


Chrome to phone

Got an article or map you want to read on the go on your smartphone or tablet? If you can use the Chrome browser at work, use this free browser extension  and this free Android app  to send links to your smartphone/tablet. many browsers have the option of ‘syncing’ across different devices, but this is one of the simplest.

I use this a lot, especially when I notice my phone battery is low and I need a map on my phone but don’t want to use the power sapping GPS.


Formerly “ReadItLater”, Pocket is a great little program that allows you to tag online content for you to read later, and is compatible with basically every operating system, and over 300 apps, meaning that you very unlikely to miss out on an interesting article you may have, until now, printed out to read later.


This small, unobtrusive piece of software comes in a free version (well, except for the adverts) and helps you reduce paper usage by eliminating missed pages, and if you have more than one type of network printer it can tell you which is the cheapest to use.


This service is great for when you need to print webpages.  Go the URL (bookmark it for easy reference) and then enter the URL of the page you want to print in the search bar.

It will bring up the page, and outline each section in red, including images, titles and subtitles. You can then simply click on the fenced section, and are then given the choice to remove it, or isolate it if that is the section you want to print. Brilliantly simple and user friendly, and you can still print it to pdf!


Simply put, Ecofont is a new font for your computer. Each letter is actually full of tiny holes, meaning that each letter uses less ink!  The holes are unnoticeable until you get to about font size 20, but this is not for client facing materials, this is for drafts or internal documents that you absolutely must print.

So, once you have a few of these running as standard in your office, wait a couple of months and recalculate your printing costs. Extrapolate for the year, and tell your management how well you have done!

And remember, if you have any further tips, don’t hesitate to tell us below!