Paper and ink; the two most often used and replaced parts of your computer, and yet many people use them as if they’re an endless commodity. If you’re looking to stem the high price of replacing these parts, or if you just want to be a better steward of the environment, these suggestions can help you extend the life of your ink cartridges and paper products.

Reducing Ink and Toner Expenses

Ink and toner expenses are without a doubt the most expensive parts of your print job. With new inkjet cartridges running anywhere from $25 upwards, it’s no wonder that the ink refill business has soared in recent years. Before you get to that point, though, there are several steps you can take to get the most from the cartridge you now have.

First, if you have to print drafts, print them in economy mode. You can set this option in Word by opening a document, and clicking FILE > PRINT. Click the OPTIONS button, and select the DRAFT OUTPUT checkbox, then click OK to save your changes. Your print will be lighter on the page, but it is a draft after all. And you will get more pages from each ink or toner cartridge by printing in draft mode. Similarly, don’t print drafts in color. Print your photographs in grayscale using the black ink cartridge if you are just wanting to see how it will look on a page. You will burn through a lot of color cartridges and money if you print in color “just to see how something looks.” Once you’ve determined your draft or photo is ready for final printing remember to reset your options.

I mentioned ink refill businesses earlier, and it’s worth noting that not every refill kit is perfect. You may not get good results with every type of ink cartridge, and in many cases you can only refill a cartridge two to three times before you have to start over with a brand new one. Still, they’re less expensive than buying a new ink or toner cartridge each time you run out of ink and are worth the effort. Buy Ink and Toners at Shop4Tech for less.

Storing Ink Cartridges

If you only use your printer on rare occasions like I do, you may have wondered, is it all right that I leave the cartridge in the printer? The answer is, “It depends.”

Using your printer a few days a week or just several times a month will let the internal capping system that most printers have do their job, which is keeping the cartridge nozzle from clogging. If you use your printer a few times a month, and you notice that your print jobs are fine, then leaving the cartridge in the printer will be fine. If however, when you print, you notice missing lines or other images on your printed page, you may need to purge the cartridge before you print. This can usually be done via your printer’s software. This procedure will run the nozzles for a short time and clear most clogs.

If you notice you are having to clear the nozzle on your cartridge frequently when your printer has been idle for a long period, you may want to remove the cartridge completely and cap it yourself by wrapping it tightly in a piece of small cellophane. DO NOT COVER THE NOZZLES IN TAPE before wrapping it as the adhesive will come off and gum up the cartridge, ruining it completely. Finally, remember to store the cartridge upright so that the nozzles will stay filled. The ink shouldn’t seep out stored this way.

Save a Tree, Use Less Paper

Easy enough, right? Yet you know there are plenty of people who use ream after ream of computer paper for no reason other than to see one sentence on a page. So the first way to save your pennies when it comes to paper is to just be selective about what you actually print. There are plenty of bloggers who either give away or sell e-zines and suggest you print the document, then go quietly off to read it. What a waste, though. If the documents are PDFs, just use your Adobe reader. It has better techniques for moving around than a printed version, and there’s no chance your child is going to take the most important page and draw their favorite WebKinz on it.

Another way to save money is to use both sides of a page. Rather than print something out, not like the outcome, and start over, simply keep the scraps and use the other side for your next set of printing drafts. Since they are drafts, using both sides of your paper just makes good sense financially and environmentally. Just keep them in a spare pile and when you need draft paper, you have it. Printing on both sides of a page will literally cut your paper costs in half.

If you ever wanted to squeeze more on a page, you can fit multiple pages on a single piece of paper. Do this by accessing the printer’s ZOOM feature. Open your document in Word, click FILE > PRINT. In the lower-right hand corner of the Print dialog box, select a number from the PAGES PER SHEET drop-down menu. If necessary, reduce the document size using the SCALE TO PAPER SIZE drop-down menu. For example, if you want to print two pages per sheet, each printed page will contain two pages of your document. Putting multiple pages on one piece of paper cuts your paper costs by a whopping 75%. It’s worth the effort if you want to spend your money elsewhere. Save up to 80% on Computers & Electronics at RefurbDepot.com.

And Finally

If at all possible and your city or suburb has recycling drop-offs or curb-side pickup, recycle your old cartridges and paper. If you don’t want people looking through your old printed documents, spend $10 bucks on a shredder, and then recycle it. Throwing them in landfills is just a waste.

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