While electric hand dryers and paper towels both come with environmental costs, there appears to be a clear winner in this debate: hand dryers.
Electric hand dryers, especially the latest technology dryers that are 1,600 watts or less, have significantly less environmental impact over their lifetime than the use of paper towels during that period of time.
Additionally, facilities managers will appreciate that electric hand dryers are about 3.5 times cheaper to operate over a five-year period and require less maintenance. Additional savings can come in the form of reduced vandalism and clogged toilets (from flushing paper towels).
From a health perspective, recent research has shown that hand dryers, especially those using new technology such as HEPA filters, can reduce airborne bacteria. New hand dryers also tend to leave users’ hands drier than paper towel use, and drier hands attract less bacteria.
If you are constructing new restrooms, the choice is clear: include high efficiency hand dryers in your new facilities. If you are currently using paper towels and want to consider switching to dryers, one website offers a calculator to help you determine how much money you can save by switching.