Printer ink is so expensive it’s considered the other black gold. Replacement cartridges can take a big bite out of your budget. There are some ways to save money, and Consumer Reports says it starts with choosing the right printer for your needs.
“You want to choose a printer that doesn’t waste a lot of ink on maintenance cycles and one that doesn’t have high costs to replace that ink,” said Consumer Reports’ Chris Raymond.
In lab testing, Consumer Reports calculated both factors to see just how much a printer will really cost you over time.
Inkjet printers that use cartridges typically have very high ink costs and aren’t known for being very reliable.
But one model that performed well in their tests was an all-in-one printer from Brother. The Brother MFC-J1010DW costs about $100 and uses about $68 worth of ink each year.
Ink costs are based on typical printer use, which is roughly 30 pages of text and 10 pages of graphics each month.
If you do a lot of printing in color, there’s a better option that will actually save you money over time even though the upfront cost is higher.
“Tank printers don’t use ink cartridges. They have reservoirs that you refill with bottles of ink,” Raymond said.
Compared to cartridges those bottles are a bargain.
Ink for the Epson EcoTank ET-2400 is only five dollars a year. And if you own it for a few years, it becomes one of the cheapest printers in CR’s ratings. The cost of the printer is about $250.
If you don’t need to print in color, CR says a black and white laser printer is your best bet. The all-in-one Canon imageCLASS MF264dw for $150 only costs about $13 a year for toner. It gets top marks for text quality and speed.
No matter what kind of printer you’re using, you can also save on ink or toner by using the draft mode, using printer-friendly all-text versions of stories, or changing your font. Tests show compared to the default Arial font, using Times New Roman or Century Gothic will you 27% to 30% more mileage on ink.