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GreenYour Printer

Use your printer's energy-saving features

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Inefficient standby modes on electrical appliances such as computers, copiers, and printers account for close to 5 percent of the energy consumed in many countries![1] Save energy in your school, church, or office by setting your printer to low-power modes whenever it’s not in use.

How to use your printer’s energy-saving features

Even if you’ve purchased an ENERGY STAR printer, its current power management settings (for low-power, off mode, and auto-off), may not be set to save you the most energy possible. Often they come pre-loaded with these power-saving features engaged, but perhaps they’ve been changed since the machine first arrived at your building.

  1. Follow the leader: ENERGY STAR regulates the default settings for their printers and copiers, setting a high standard for power-saving features on these machines.[2] If you follow their minimum default settings for low-power mode, you should be well on your way to significant energy savings. The settings you choose will depend slightly on your printer’s speed (the number of images it can make per minute (ipm)), so check that before adjusting your machine’s power settings.
    • 0 - 10 ipm: 15 minutes (suggested auto-off time: 30 minutes)
    • 11 - 20 ipm: 30 minutes (auto-off could be set to 60 minutes)
    • 55 + ipm: 60 minutes (possible auto-off time of 90 minutes)
  2. Duplex your way to energy savings: It takes 10 times more energy to place an image on a piece of paper than it does to create that sheet in the first place. Duplex copying requires less energy than single-sided copying, so setting your printer to default to duplex mode (a requirement for most ENERGY STAR printers) will save you money in paper and energy costs.
  3. When all else fails: If you don’t have a printer capable of entering low-power modes during idleness, appoint someone to shut it off at the end of the work day.

To measure the effectiveness of your printer's features, Xerox offers this sustainability calculator.

Using your printer’s power-saving features helps you go green because…

  • Energy efficiency means fewer greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide.

Of all the energy used in the commercial sector, 7 percent is consumed to run office equipment like printers and much of that energy is used to power machines sitting idle.[3] There are over 25 million small businesses in the US today, a group that consumes 48 percent of all commercial and industrial electricity.[4]

Five to 13 percent of residential electricity, on the other hand, is used to power electronics in standby mode, costing an estimated $4 billion per year and generating 27 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions.[5] Reducing standby power to one watt would save approximately $1-2 billion annually.[6]


  • auto-off feature: The ability of a printer to shut down automatically after a specified period of time passes after the last print was made. This mode requires the longest recovery time.
  • low-power mode: Sometimes called sleep mode or the zero-energy standby mode (ZESM), this is lowest power state the printer can obtain without shutting off. The printer should be programmed to enter this mode within a specified period of time after the last copy was made. Recovery time is longer in this mode than in standby mode.
  • off mode: The printer is plugged into an electrical outlet but has been powered down.
  • standby mode: The state when a copier is plugged in and ready to make copies, but not yet copying and not yet in energy-saving mode. There is no appreciable recovery time when in this mode.

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