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Consumer Reports: Saving money on printer ink

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Posted at 9:00 AM, Jan 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-12 10:01:02-05

(CONSUMER REPORTS/WTVF)  — If you've got a home office and a printer, you know how expensive printer ink can be. But then HP came along and offered free printer ink for life. It sounded too good to be true – and it was.

When it was announced, it sounded like a great promotion from printer maker HP – free ink for life, 15 pages worth a month. But then in fall 2020, HP changed its mind and said it would begin charging customers.

After outcries on social media, HP reversed course and reinstated the program for existing customers.

“And HP isn’t the only one with a subscription plan. Brother, Canon, and Epson each have their own versions too,” Octavio Blanco, Consumer Reports Tech Editor.

Most of these plans rely on a company remotely monitoring your ink levels and then sending you cartridges when you’re low. No matter how you get it, Consumer Reports offers some clever tips to help you save money by saving ink.

“Consider a refillable tank printer. The ink that comes with it should last you a long time and replacement bottles are a fraction of the cost of cartridges,” said Blanco.

Another option is switching to a black and white laser printer. They use toner instead of ink to produce speedy, high-quality text, and they're generally more cost-efficient than inkjets. Consumer Reports’ testers found that the HL-L2370DW model from Brother has excellent text quality.

But if you’re not ready to buy a new printer, CR has some more creative ways to save.

“A simple, yet effective, way to save ink is to change your font to Times New Roman instead of Arial. Our testers got 27% more mileage using it,” added Blanco.

Also, consider trying third party ink cartridges, although some printers can detect them and won’t print. One last tip: keep your inkjet printers turned on.

“Our testers found a noticeable reduction in ink use — even on some of the most ink-hogging models,” Blanco said.

Leaving your printer on avoids the extra cleaning cycle your inkjet would do if turned off and on again.

Now if you're worried that leaving your printer on will use a lot of electricity, Consumer Reports says worry don't inkjet printers actually use very little power when they're not in use, and you’ll end up saving more by using less ink.