Will leaving a printer turned on reduce ink waste?

November 13, 2013 • By

“If I leave my inkjet printer on, will less ink be wasted?” The simple answer is maybe. The longer answer is, unfortunately, more complicated.

Ink is a Precious Commodity

Any one who has shopped for cartridges for their inkjet printer knows that ink is a necessary expense. It’s also no fun to run out when in the middle of an important printing job, which will happen, of course, in the middle of the night when the local office supply stores are closed. For these reasons, saving precious ink in any way that you can is desirable.

Let’s start by explaining why it would be at all helpful to leave a printer on.

When you first turn on your inkjet printer, it does a little noisy dance. This is called the initialization phase, and during it, some printers are using a tiny amount of ink while maintaining and cleaning the print heads. If you turn your machine off and on repeatedly, you can lose a surprising amount over time. However, not all printers use ink during this process – it really depends on the individual type, make, model, and brand.

Consumer Reports notes that there is no easy way for you to test whether it is worth leaving your particular printer on all the time. Some brands are thriftier than others. But to be on the safe side, you can leave it on if you know that you’ll be printing in the near future (in the next several hours) but go ahead and turn it off if you’re taking a break from printing until tomorrow.

So now you’re not sure that just leaving the printer on all the time is going to make a huge difference, but you still want to save on ink costs. What do you do? We’ve compiled some helpful tips to making the most out of your purchases.

Tips on Saving Ink

Save your color cartridges for color. Even if you print something that appears to be black and white, go ahead and tell your printer (using the settings) to print it in “gray scale.” Sometimes photos or documents actually have an “off-black” color that causes the printer to use a color print head in combination with the black to duplicate the “color” of the document. Some people even take the color cartridges out of the printer until they are ready to use them.

Use “draft” or “economy” mode for everyday printing. Save the extra-saturated photos for important occasions like Christmas gifts. For most printing jobs, especially written documents, the draft setting is just fine. This means that the print heads make one pass instead of multiple passes while they spray the ink onto the paper, saving a significant amount of ink and time. Always do a quick check in printing settings and preferences before printing.

Buy the right cartridge for your printer. When you are ordering or purchasing replacements, don’t just guess what kind of ink you’ll need. Make sure you know the exact make and model of your inkjet and buy the right stuff. If the cartridges come in different sizes, such as economy, standard, moderate or XL opt for the largest (XL), and you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck. So if you have an HP printer make sure you look for compatible HP toner cartridges.

Take care to print only what you need. If you just want text from a website then copy and paste the text into a word processor and then print that instead. Otherwise, you could find yourself with six pages of full color photos and ads from the site, instead of the four paragraphs you wanted. If printing from a document or PDF file, select only the pages you need while in the printer dialog.

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