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The Color of Money

03 Oct 2009 1:56 PM | Working Women (Administrator)

“Going green” is all the rage these days, and from what I can see, being eco-minded not only helps the planet, but can also help your wallet.  I know that many of our Members have a home or small office, so I ask: what two major consumables fuel your operation?  I’d bet the answer is power and paper.  With that in mind, here are just a few earth-friendly, money saving tips.


You can have save approximately $143 a year in electricity costs by simply customizing the power settings on your computer.  For example, if your computer system sleeps for 21 hours per day, it uses just 5 watts.  Leave your computer running for 24 hours a day, and you will use a comparatively large 160 watts.

To customize your power settings in any version of Microsoft Windows, go to the Control Panel, select Hardware and Sounds, then choose Power Options.  Alternatively, you can get there by right clicking anywhere on the desktop, choose Screen Saver, and then click on “change power settings” at the bottom of the pop up window. 

Windows will not tell you exactly how much power you’ll be saving buy altering these settings, but you can find out by using a utility called “LocalCooling,” available as a free download at  This program will give you much greater insight into the amount of power that each component in your computer is drawing.

To make you feel good not only about the money you are saving but also about the reduced impact you are having on the environment, LocalCooling keeps a running tally of how many trees, gallons of fuel, and kilowatt hours of electricity you are saving by employing the various power saving schemes.  You can even use the utility to view how much energy you are saving relative to other LocalCooling users.

Another easy way to shrink that power bill a little is to make be sure you unplug these same machines when you go on vacation or leave the office for the weekend.  Be aware that even when the computer is turned off, it may still be drawing power for certain components that have stand-by functions.  Using a power strip, surge protector, or battery backup system can make this task more convenient:  just pull the main line once everything is safely shut down. 

Printing and Paper:

Surprisingly, black-and-white laser printers are much cheaper to run than inkjet printers.  Typically, the cost per page of running a laser printer is about half that of the average inkjet printer, due to the great difference in the cost of consumables - and that's assuming that you print only in black ink with your inkjet.  If you print using any colors at all, the cost per page skyrockets over the cost of using a traditional laser printer.  While you may pay a bit more up front for the cost of a laser printer, you should quickly recoup that money in regained overhead.  

If you love your inkjet and don’t want to make the switch to laser, don’t be afraid to refill your ink cartridges.  In my experience doing this, I have noticed no difference whatsoever in the print quality, nor has it damaged my printer in any way.  At local shops like Walgreens, a refill is only $10 and is usually ready in 1 hour.  The last stop for completely spent ink cartridges should always be a designated ink cartridge recycling bin.

Whether you are running an inkjet or a laser printer, you can drastically reduce your ink or toner consumption by utilizing the settings in the print driver.  If you are using Windows, open the Control Panel's Printer section, right-click your printer driver, and select Properties from the pop- up menu.  You can also get to the printer’s Properties by right clicking on the small printer icon in the notification area in the lower right of your screen.  From within the printer's Properties panel, look for a setting such as "econo-mode", “fast draft”  or some other setting that allows you to specify 50 per cent ink usage (this depends on your brand of printer).  This change will generally result in printouts that are a bit lighter than they otherwise would be, but they will still be perfectly legible, and you'll save a lot in ink or toner costs.

You can also save on paper costs if you minimize your usage.  It is estimated that paper accounts for more than half of all municipal solid waste.  Setting up good paper usage habits can really help the Earth in a myriad ways, and reduce the number of those pricey reams you must buy.   A good way to start is to “think before you print.”  Ask yourself: do you really need a hard copy of this document?  Use a hard drive backup service or device and just save a copy of everything important. 

Here are some more nifty printer tricks you can use:  Only print the page you need to review from Word by hitting Ctrl + P then Alt + E.  This will move thee curser to “only current page”; then hit enter.  Try printing on both sides of the page.  This is only for hardcore savers!  First print the odd pages, then flip the stack, and change the output to only odd pages.  When possible, print in “two up” mode by hitting Ctrl+P, look for “pages per sheet, clicking the drop down arrow, and selecting “2 per page.”  This will make a printout on one page that looks like a book.  Make a scrap paper pile and use that stack when you want to print drafts.  Finally, paper that is too used to put back in the paper tray can be cut into fourths and used to jot quick notes or phone messages.

            You can make a difference in your consumption if you pay attention to what you are using and work small, effective changes into your daily routine.  The payoff will be tangibly reflected in your bottom line:  the amount of which will be a direct reflection of how much you are willing to change. 

So tell me, what will you do with your newfound green money?  I’ll be spending mine at the next Girls Night Out, proposing a toast to all our hard work!



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