Saving Energy- One Electric Hand Dryer At A Time

Walk in any business premises and visit their restroom. Most likely you will find an paper roll hung in a holder and an overflowing trash can. Even though the trend for using air dryer is on rise, somehow people look at it as some fancy instrument, overly complex, only for tree-huggers shedding tears for chopped trees. In reality an electric hand dryer is a very simple instrument consisting only of a switch, a coil and a fan. They need almost no maintenance and can have useful life of 7-.

In fact the electric hand dryer is a very smart choice purely from economy point of view. Don’t believe me? Here are some facts.

Let’s do a cost cost analysis for paper towel roll vs. electric hand dryer in rest rooms.

Costs for use of paper towels per person.

If you want to use paper towels in rest room, you need to begin with a holder. A simple paper towel dispenser costs about $30.00 and a fancy touchless dispenser runs around $45.00. This is your fixed cost. You have to incur these costs no matter how much is rest room usage.

One paper roll costs around $1.5-2.5. Let us say after paying all taxes etc. the cost of paper roll is $1.5. Typically these rolls consist of around 200 paper towels. So cost per towel is 0.75 cent. Assuming one person uses on an average 2 towels (which is rather on lower side), we have paper towel cost of 1.5 cents per person visiting the rest room.

Costfor use of electric dryer per person.

A simple electric hand dryer runs at around 75$, which is about $30 more at the beginning.

As shown in the table provided on the webpage linked above, an air dryer runs for about 30 secs and consumes 2 KW energy. So consuming 0.01667 KWH energy per person. @0.12 $/KWH, the cost of this runs at around 0.2 cents per visit. That is 1.3 cents less than using a paper towel. At this rate of saving, it would take (75-45)/0.013 = 2300 visits to rest room for payback.

So if your business has 1000 daily visitors, assuming 10% of them use resrtoom, you have 100 rest room visitors per day. At this rate, you would break even on 23rd day and after that what you have is pure profit.

This is ignoring the costs you have to incur to purchase paper rolls regularly , stack them up in closet, make sure the dispenser is filled with roll, make sure the trash cans are not overflowing, and then make sure the trash is regularly taken out. This involves significant time and efforts on somebody’s part. Also each paper roll fills about half bag in small 16 gal trashcan. So you will be definitely purchasing more trash bags if you keep using paper rolls. Don’t forget trash bags cost almost $0.10/bag in most cases.

Certainly life is just simpler with electric hand dryer.

Here you are consuming more electrical energy, but reducing overall ecological footprint of your living or business.

This post on a website actually argues in favor of paper towels when it comes to being environment friendly. But it assumes that you are using coal based energy provided on standard energy mix in California grid. Also it does not account for significant costs involved in handling paper towel over its lifespan. That involves energy consumed in manufacturing, packaging, transporting, storing, collecting in trash, transporting trash and disposing in landfill. As I mentioned above, while we are discussing ecological impact of paper towel, we also need to consider that we need extra trash bags. So all the environmental costs associated with trash bags should be accounted as well.

The truth is paper towel is one of the things where the useful part of its life is far smaller chunk of its total life (unless large part of such towels is recycled, which is not the case today). Such things are rarely environmentally friendly. So even though, in restroom, electric hand dryer consumes more electric energy than paper towel roll, if you see the big picture, you are better off with electric hand dryer both financially and environmentally.

From purely environmental standpoint the most effective solution will be a cloth towel hanging in restroom. That might be feasible for residence use, but might not be practical for businesses. For businesses, the electric dryer is the best solution because it leaves one less thing to take care of, thus making life a bit simpler. If you want to know the importance of that statement, “One less thing to take care of”, ask any workshop manager or any mom who spend most of their time in juggling their tasks.

~ by Kedar on May 1, 2007.

18 Responses to “Saving Energy- One Electric Hand Dryer At A Time”

  1. I manufacture hand dryers – Please remember in this particular comparison to consider the amount of electrical energy used to produce the paper towels.

    Even if using recycled paper, the paper must first be reduced to pulp, a liquid, that then needs to be dried to the point where it can actually be made wet again – cost is one thing but a comparison of carbon impact makes the case for hand dryers even more compelling.

    Please remember also, that the only transportation associated with a hand dryer is delivering it to site. A paper towel not only results in continuous deliveries, it also attracts continuous collections to either incineration or landfill.

  2. It is good imformation about saving energy.

  3. It is very good informaion.

  4. Great information. no trouble deciding next time i’m in a public bathroom!

  5. […] have taken a spin through this material – the Portland Tribune, Saving Energy (blog). It’s a common question, with lots of manufacturers weighing in on their respective […]

  6. see for more information on hand dryers vs paper towels. Many studies have been done on hand dryers vs. paper towels. However, most studies are outdated in comparison to today’s hand dryer technology. Today’s technology proves that with hand dryers vs. paper towels, the hand dryers are the clear winner in every way. Paper towels cannot be recycled, consume precious resources, and use excessive landfill space. 20,000 gallons of water are polluted to make one ton of paper towels. 17 trees are consumed to make one ton of paper towels. A company named American Dryer makes the following hand dryer that can help lead the way to saving the environment. EXTREMEAIR® Hand Dryer With its patent pending technology, the EXTREMEAIR® is 3X faster – it dries hands completely in 10-15 seconds. This is accomplished with a powerful blast of warm air that quickly breaks up the layer of surface water on a user’s hands for quick removal and evaporation. While all American hand dryers save trees and reduce landfill waste – The EXTREMEAIR® uses up to 80% less energy than conventional hand dryers. The new GXT EXTREMEAIR hand dryer has been GreenSpec® Listed. This is an unbiased list of the most environmentally friendly products published by the editors of Environmental Building News. The EXTREMEAIR met tough GreenSpec standards because it conserves energy and reduces maintenance and waste. The EXTREMEAIR helps facilities qualify for LEED® credits. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The EXTREMEAIR helps facilities qualify for LEED-NC, LEED-EB AND LEED-CI Credits in two categories: EA Credit 1– Optimize Energy Performance EA Prerequisite 2 – Minimum Energy Performance

  7. Great to see progress in saving the planet now we need solar powered hand dryers 😀

  8. Great Info tku, it will help me in my University project.

    would be interesting to offer new techonolgies info about it.

    hopw you keep refreshing the info

    Santiago from Ecuador

  9. Does anyone have info on solar powered hand dryers?

  10. Nice article. I also think that hand dryers are more eco-friendly than paper towels.

  11. A lot of of guys talk about this subject but you said really true words.

  12. well it really save you money?

  13. is a manufacturer of Automatic and stainless steel Hand Dryers, high quality towel dispenser, paper towel dispenser, electric hand ryer,automatic soap dispenser, air hand dryer,air curtains, hand towel dispensers, perfume dispensers, sensor taps in Bangalore

  14. Seriously question the payback info:

    Omitted the additional installation cost for the electric hand dryer (for electrical rough in and wiring). And it seems with a quick search, that most quality hand dryers that won’t take forever to dry are significantly more than $75. So the pay back is probably not nearly as fast as the article indicates.

    On the plus side, the carbon footprint info does appear to be sound.

  15. Sorry to have to say this but…how about air drying your hands? It works just as well 🙂 I love your article though.

  16. Good example except how many times do you have to press the button and your hands are still wet? If given a choice I use the paper, if not, I usually have to finish drying my hands on my pants.

  17. […] […]

  18. hand dryer makes high noise, if noise can be reduced – the product will be more of use i believe.

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