Although electric hand dryers were first patented in 1921 it was not until the late 1940s when what was then marketed as the “electric towel” was introduced into the market. Ever since that day, the paper towel industry has been offering one argument after another to support their product over the hand dryer. Let’s look at hand dryers from the point of view of cost, hygiene and the environment.
There is no debate about the cost of the actual machine; a hand dryer is more expensive than any paper towel dispenser. Of course, the initial cost is only the tip of the iceberg; one installed the only cost of operating bathroom hand dryers is electricity consumption which is marginal. Paper towel costs never stop; it has been estimated that a typical dispenser dispenses close to 150 thousand towels every year at an approximate cost of $950 and this cost occurs year in and year out. Even the most sophisticated hand dryer would be paid for in little over a year and, a bathroom hand dryer can easily last ten years. There is no comparison; bathroom hand dryers win the cost argument hands down.
The paper towel industry may have had a point years ago when they alluded to the speed of drying, wet hands actually do breed bacteria more readily. Now that high speed hand dryers are readily available, this argument no longer works. From a hygiene point of view it is best to consider waste, not speed any longer. There is no waste with bathroom hand dryers; on the other hand, every paper towel is waste. The waste paper is wet; a perfect place for bacteria growth and waste paper is used by vandals to plug toilets and sinks. High speed hand dryers with HEPA filters blow warm air that is cleaner than the air they draw in from the environment.
Think of this; 25 thousand paper towels can be made from one tree, every dispenser goes through 150 thousand towels a year. That means to maintain a stock of paper towels in every dispenser in the country takes six trees. No one knows how many paper towel dispensers there are but it must be in the millions; do the math. Typically, bathroom hand dryers use less that 4 watts of power every 24 hours, the environmental impact is negligible.
When you take into account convenience and minimal maintenance requirements, nothing is better than bathroom hand dryers.