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Choosing More Efficient Hand Dryers

If you are in the process of updating the bathrooms in your building, hand dryers should be a key consideration, and making a more efficient choice can help you reduce long term costs as well as lowering the CO2 emissions as part of your journey to Net Zero.

Warm air hand dryers vs jet hand dryers

The two main types of hand dryer are warm air (evaporative), and jet hand dryers.  

An evaporative hand dryer uses a slow-moving fan to push air over a heating element which then flows over the user’s hands.  As the hands are rubbed together in the air flow, the water left after washing evaporates away leaving the hands dry after about 35 seconds to one minute.

A jet hand dryer works differently.  Air is accelerated through the internal ducting of the dryer and dispensed through a narrow nozzle.  This fast-moving air blows the droplets of water off the skin much more quickly, taking around 10 seconds to complete the drying process.

Aside from meaning that less electricity is used, a shorter drying time will also mean that bathroom visits are shorter.  This can have a positive impact on workplace productivity, saving hundreds of hours over the course of a year in an average office.

Automatic Vs manual hand dryers

Manual hand dryers are usually started with a push button and then run on a timer.  This is typically set to around 30 seconds which may not be sufficient to complete the drying process, in which case, the user will restart the dryer, meaning that it may run for a full minute even if it is only being used for a little over half that time.  This causes a great deal of wasted energy.

Automatic hand dryers have a proximity sensor positioned to detect when a user puts their hands into the drying area.  This starts and stops the fan meaning that only as much electricity as is required to dry the hands is used.

Automatic dryers are also a no-touch design, which means that they are considered more hygienic and better at stopping the spread of germs in a workplace or school.

Comparison with paper towels

Although paper towels do not use electricity, they have a much higher overall cost than either type of hand dryer, and a more significant impact on the environment.  Large amounts of CO2 are emitted during the manufacturing and distribution process, and the per-use cost can be up to 30 times higher than the most efficient Mitsubishi Electric Wave hand dryer.

Annual Cost and CO2 Comparison

Based on 250 daily uses of hand dryers or paper towels, the annual costs are estimated to be:

  • Paper towels: £730
  • Warm Air Hand Dryer: £80
  • Mitsubishi Electric Wave: £24

For the same usage levels, the estimated CO2 emissions are as follows:

  • Paper towels: 1,561KG
  • Warm Air Hand Dryer: 265KG
  • Mitsubishi Electric Wave: 82KG

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