There are people testing how much power your printer uses, you just might not have heard about it.
The star rating system for domestic appliances can help you choose products that are cheaper to run, but it doesn't extend to office equipment.
We got thinking about thus after noticing advertisements (on this site) from Brother about awards it received for the energy usage of its printers.
Brother a BLI Summer 2013 award and last month a Winter 2014 award (for an inkjet with 83 percent lower consumption than comparable laser printers). Other companies that have received these awards include Canon, Konica Minolta, and Ricoh.
BLI - Buyers Laboratory LLC, is a US based organisation which specialises in testing imaging products including copiers, printers, faxes and multifunction devices - presents awards for outstanding achievements in energy efficiency twice a year. Products receiving these awards typically use around 50% less energy than the average for their categories.
BLI's 'job stream' tests uses a mix of documents intended to simulate real-world use. Testing includes running the device for one month at the manufacturer's rated monthly volume with equal daily volumes. While that sort of testing is in progress, it's a simple matter to connect a meter between the printer and power point to measure how much electricity is being consumed in the process.
As a general rule, 'laser' printers with LED mechanisms use less electricity than traditional laser models, and manufacturers such as Fuji Xerox have developed toner that melts at lower temperatures to provide further energy savings. Inkjets use substantially less electricity than LED or laser printers.
Other techniques that can reduce electricity consumption include the aggressive use of sleep mode (modern devices may use less than 1W in that state, which is only fractionally more than when switched off but still plugged into the mains), but if the printer wakes up too slowly you may be tempted to defeat that measure by increasing the time to sleep or disabling the feature altogether.
Don't get too hung up on electricity consumption, as it is only part of the overall cost of printing (read this article). You also need to factor in the cost of ink or toner (don't let your experience with a cheap home printer fool you - inkjets designed for office use can be very competitive with lasers in this regard), the purchase price amortised over the expected life of the device, and the likely cost of any service parts such as replacement printheads or drums.
And while 50 percent lower than average sounds impressive, we're not talking about large sums of money. The Brother HL-S7000DN has a TEC (Typical Electricity Consumption) value of 1.5kWh per week. Your geographical location and choice of supplier and tariff will determine how much you pay for electricity, but between 25 and 35c per kWh seems representative. So the difference between a printer that uses 1.5kWh per week and one that uses 3kWh could be as little as $20 per year.