A key factor in the increased popularity of high-speed hand dryers, says Jeff Culler, New England regional sales manager at Steibel Eltron of West Hatfield, Mass., is their green/sustainability capabilities. As more facilities look to green their operations, a high-speed hand dryer proves itself to be an excellent place to start.

While conventional units once required special circuitry, today’s high-speed systems tap into standard voltages and use up to 80 percent less energy.

“Hand dryer technology has improved by leaps and bounds, resulting in better drying efficiency, as compared to years ago when hand dryers took 30 to 40 seconds to dry your hands,” says Storto. “Modern units dry hands within 10 to 15 seconds.”

The primary reason why only 10 percent of the restrooms utilized hand dryers previously is people claimed they took too long to dry their hands. But because newer units are both quick and effective, these dryers are used far more than ever before, all the while, using less energy and contributing to green goals.

But be aware that not all high-speed dryers are the same. Some take longer to dry than others.

Gagnon explains that air stream can be measured in two ways: the area of the airflow and the linear feet per minute. Conventional dryers fan the air out, while high-speed hand dryers target the flow of air into a linear path.

“That’s why they dry your hands so quickly,” he says. “The air flows faster and is more focused. It is also heated.”

All of this translates into significant energy savings, adds Knapp, who points out that conventional hand dryers consume approximately 1,800 watts of power, whereas their high-speed counterparts draw just 1,000 to 1,200 watts. And if the facility opts not to use the heating unit in the dryers, the power usage may drop to just 750 watts.

These benefits make the units efficient from both an environmental and budgetary standpoint.

When compared to paper towels, “the cost per kilowatt hour to run the dryer is minimal in comparison to the cost to produce paper,” Knapp says. “Then there is the waste created, the cost to carry that waste away and the trash going into the landfill.”

Emphasizing the environmental attributes, Storto elaborates, saying the production of paper towels is twice as energy-intensive as that of drying units, and creates more greenhouse gasses.

“Over its lifetime, one hand dryer will produce three tons less CO2 than the production of the paper towels it replaces,” he says. “Also, towels can be made from recycled paper, but they can’t be recycled themselves, creating millions of cubic feet of waste.”

Ronnie Garrett is a freelance writer based in Fort Atkinson, Wis.

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