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 last fall 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," said Consumer Reports Tech Editor Octavio Blanco.
Most of the plans rely on a company remotely monitoring your ink levels and then sending you cartridges when you're low.
SEE ALSO: Do these three things now to protect yourself online
No matter how you get it, Consumer Reports offered 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," Blanco said.
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 an option from Brother has excellent text quality. (Brother HL-L2370DW, Black and White Laser Printer, $130)
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," Blanco said.
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.
SEE ALSO: Consumer Reports: Can an air purifier clean the air of COVID?
"Our testers found a noticeable reduction in ink used, even on some of the most ink-hogging models," he said.
Leaving your printer on avoids the extra cleaning cycle your inkjet would do if turned off and on again.
If you're worried about the cost or environmental impact of leaving your printer on, CR said inkjets consume very little power when they're not in use. So your ink savings should considerably outweigh those concerns.