How to have BufferedImages take up less RAM

Hello! As the title says, BufferedImages take up the majority of the RAM in my Java game. I use mostly pngs; some of which are transparent.

I initiate the BufferedImage objects simply like so:

BufferedImage example ="/exampleImage.png"));

Then, I use a getCompatibleImage() function to make it the best image for rendering on the system.

static BufferedImage getCompatibleImage(BufferedImage current) {
    GraphicsConfiguration gfxConfig = GraphicsEnvironment.getLocalGraphicsEnvironment().getDefaultScreenDevice().getDefaultConfiguration();
        return current;
    BufferedImage optimized = gfxConfig.createCompatibleImage(current.getWidth(), current.getHeight(), current.getTransparency());
    Graphics2D g2d = optimized.createGraphics();
    g2d.drawImage(current, 0, 0, null);
    return optimized;

I use about 1219 BufferedImage objects, which is quite a lot. I read all of them at the beginning with a loading screen splash image and keep all of them as static b/c I do not want to reload them on a restart.

Please let me know what I can do to use less RAM. Thanks!