In terms of drying your hands, other than airdrying or using your pants, the newest energy-efficient hand dryers are the greenest choice in about 95 percent of circumstances1. With energy conservation as a foundation of One Community’s open source strategy for building a global collaboration of self-sufficient and self-sustainable teacher/demonstration communities, villages, and cities for The Highest Good of All, we set out to find the best of the best. This page contains the following sections sharing what we learned about the most sustainable hand dryers available:
Drying hands in any high-use environment can use a lot of resources. This is especially true in commercial environments. One Community will have both high-use and commercial-use bathrooms in the Earthbag Village and Duplicable City Center. With this in mind, we first set out to determine if electric dryers or paper were more sustainable. In about 95 percent of circumstances1, hand dryers are more sustainable. They are far more sustainable in situations like ours where the energy used is 100% from renewable sources.
Next we wanted to see what the most sustainable and eco-friendly models were. To find out we evaluated them based on:
The results of our research are below. We’ll add to this page our own experience and anything else we learn as we build the 7 sustainable villages.
Hand dryers have a lower carbon footprint than paper towels. Air blades (electric hand dryers) have about one-third the carbon emissions per drying compared to paper towel usage. The Climate Conservancy reports that for each use, hand dryers cause between 9 and 40 grams of carbon dioxide emissions, compared to paper towels that have an average of 56 grams of carbon dioxide emissions.
According to Livestrong, an average dryer uses approximately 0.018 kilowatt hours of electricity for 30 seconds, or around 2,200 watts of power total to run. Meaning for one day, around 26.61 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions are produced for drying hands three times a day. Paper towels waste even more energy through the process of creating paper towels by converting the tree to the paper, then transporting it to the facility, then to the stores, etc. Paper towels also usually end up in a landfill where they decompose and create methane, a greenhouse gas.
Hand dryers with sensor activation (verses a button) are also the most hygienic choice. Not touching dispensers or piles of towels, etc. reduces germ transfer. Sensor activation is also a better energy-saving option because they stop working once you remove your hands from underneath it. If you are running your hand dryers on sustainable energy then they are an even more eco-conscious and environmentally friendly choice.
We researched three hand dryer companies. Benchmarking the sustainability ranking of each company was done using publicly available data and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Sustainability Index’s following 5 areas: Strategic commitments, Value-chain management, Innovation, Environmental Performance, and Social Responsibility. These 5 areas from the AIChE SI Indices were selected because the information for each of them was publicly available. The figure at right shows the elements evaluated and the indices used for each element.
Each company was benchmarked looking at five specific indices within each of the different categories. These consisted of: (1) if there was a sustainability presence on their website (2) if there was a current sustainability report on their website or available to the public (3) what are their sustainability goals (4) what are their sustainability initiatives and (5) what partnerships/collaborations do they have with other sustainability related organizations. Taking all of this data into consideration, we were able to rank them from most sustainable to least.
Using the sustainability ranking process described above, Dyson satisfied 4 of the 5 indices (Sustainability Information Section, Sustainability Report, Sustainability Goals, and Sustainability Initiatives). Excel Dryer came in second place because it met 3 of the indices (Sustainability Information Section, Sustainability Report, and Sustainability Initiatives). Finally, World Dryer came in last place because it met only 2 of the indices (Sustainability Initiatives and Partnerships).
*Note that these rankings can change based on any changes in their sustainability indices.
The following hand dryers were selected from over 10 hours of researching everything available on the market as of April 2019. We chose these hand dryers based on energy-saving ability, current technology and features, and a thorough assessment of the available reviews, price, and durability. We felt it was a fairly difficult choice between the top 3, with numbers 4 and 5 coming in close behind. Other hand dryers exist also, but we didn’t consider them as good as the choices here, so we left them off.
We chose the American Dryer ExtremeAir® Hand Dryer as our #1 choice because it had the lowest energy-use option (800 watts!), was one of the most affordable, and featured an adjustable drying time, sound level, and energy savings. This environmentally-conscious dryer has a 12-second dry time and is estimated to cost 42 cents per 100o uses. It has StenTouch antimicrobial technology, which is a HEPA filter that reduces contaminants in the air when drying the hands. It utilizes 800-1500 watts of power making it highly energy-efficient and it uses 80-90% less energy than standard brands. It can be purchased on Amazon and their website says it saves as much as 98% when compared to purchasing paper towels.
There is one primary reason that the American Dryer Extreme-Air (EXT) hand dryer ranks above the original model (the GXT). It is specifically marketed as an “eco” variation on the original because it uses no-heat hand drying which has benefits in both energy usage and cost. No-heat drying does have one drawback, the EXT is 85˚ F at 72˚ F room temperature compared to GXT’s 135˚ F at 72˚ F room temperature and this means a 12-second dry time instead of the original model’s 10-second dry time. However, the drawbacks pale when the benefits are considered. The original model boasts a cost of 42 cents per 1000 uses while the EXT is only estimated at 18 cents per 1000 uses.
Our #2 hand dryer choice was the XLERATOR Hand Dryer. This was chosen as the second option because it has the fastest drying time (8-10 seconds!), uses 1500 watts, was medium in cost, and offers built-in adjustable speed and sound control options. Estimated cost per 1,000 uses though was one of the highest at 50 cents. According to their website, it has been proven to have a less than 1% failure rate, exerts 80% less energy than a conventional hand dryer, and saves 95% in cost savings when compared to purchasing paper towels. It has an externally visible service LED and a HEPA Filtration System that has been tested to remove 99.97% of bacteria at 0.3 microns from the air. It also has Antimicrobial Wall Guards, which are designed to protect the walls of the product from water and inhibit bacterial buildup in the machine. The XLERATOR additionally helps new constructions to qualify for several LEED credits. This product can be found and purchased on Amazon and our review of other websites ranking the best products on the market consistently demonstrated this as a top choice too.
While Xlerator’s original hand dryer is a great energy-saving model, they also have a variation specifically marketed as eco: XLERATOReco® Hand Dryer. As with most “eco” hand dryer options, the main difference between this model and the original is that the eco model uses no heat technology but still maintains a dry time of just 10 seconds. Their website makes the same savings claims for this one as the other model: “80% less energy usage than conventional hand dryers and 95% cost savings when compared to paper towels.” This hand dryer is Building Green approved and is eligible for a handful of LEED credits.
Our third choice was the Palmer Fixture Blue Storm High-Speed Hand Dryer. This was chosen as our third option because it uses 1600 watts, one of the highest energy uses of the top 5 here. It beats #4 and #5 below though because it is the most affordable, has the second-fastest drying time, and has an adjustable speed option. According to their site, it costs just 40 cents per 1000 uses. The drying time for this hand dryer is 10-15 seconds and it has a unique design offering a blue light to show where the airflow is most powerful. This helps people use the dryer more efficiently. This product is GreenSpec listed, which is considered to be the top of the class and environmentally preferable based on USGBC Building Green’s criteria. The hand dryer can also help earn LEED credits based on EA Credit 1 for optimized energy performance. The product can be purchased on Amazon and was also ranked quite high and reviewed well on multiple other blogs and websites.
The EcoTap Deck Mount High Speed Hand DryerCreates is an arguable improvement over the Blue Storm dryer listed above. It creates a cleaner, clutter-free washroom experience because excess water goes right into the sink. It offers the same 10-15 second dry time, is easy to clean and low maintenance, incorporates intelligent temperature control technology, and has sound and power adjustments. Because this is a dryer meant to be installed right at the sink though, it will create a slower turnover at the sink and require one per sink (more up-front cost) for a commercial project like ours. For this reason, we wouldn’t consider it a better option for our project but it may be for other situations/projects.
We chose the Dyson Airblade V Hand Dryer as our #4 choice because it has a 12-second quick dry time and was one of the most expensive of our top 5 choices here. It’s cost for 1,000 uses was also one of the highest, 49 cents per 1,000 uses. It made this list though because it operates at a low 1,400 watts, has a HEPA filter, and is claimed 30% quieter than a conventional hand dryer and was awarded the Quiet Mark by the Noise Abatement Society. Another reason it is ranked #4 though is that, unlike the ones above, it does not have adjustable speed, sound, and energy-saving options. Still, this hand dryer claims to be up to 78% less expensive to run than competing hand dryer brands. The company says it saves up to 98% on cost savings from buying paper towels, with up to 81% less CO2 being used.
We chose the Fast Dry HK-JA05 Hand Dryer as our #5 choice because it uses 1,600 watts and had the slowest drying time once we narrowed our choices down to 5. Still, it offers a 12-15 second drying time and an infrared sensor with LED to eliminate the germ-transfer potential of pushing buttons. It has safe, powerful, and adjustable speed and heating options. The brush motor can also be adjusted. It works with voltage settings of either 110-120V or 220-240V and can be purchased on Amazon. We couldn’t find data on its cost per 1,000 uses.
FastDry also has an “eco” model but the company’s website does not make clear what the main differences are between the eco and the original, though it appears that the eco does have the option to switch to a no-heat drying mode. Without switching to the “minimal energy usage” no-heat drying mode, this dryer model is probably exactly the same as the original; however, employing this mode will make the FastDry EcoSlender05 Hand Dryer our new top choice from this company.
Here are purchasing and review links (paid links*) for all of the above hand dryers that are on Amazon.
*As an Amazon Associate, One Community earns from qualifying purchases.
Here are any other resources we’ve found (or that have been shared with us) and we think may be helpful:
One Community has invested over 10 hours of research just on sustainable hand dryers. Our goal is to open source share our group’s experience with all the ones we use as part of the development of the Earthbag Village and Duplicable City Center. We will evolve this page with those details and use what we learn to help us with our purchasing decisions as we build each of the 7 sustainable village models.
Q: Where will you be posting your continued research?
We’ll share most of what we learn here. If input is valuable enough, we’ll also create additional pages with testimonials and YouTube links with more details. We will then link to all of those pages from this page.
Q: Was One Community paid or incentivized in any way to choose the products we chose?
No, the research to identify and make the selections we made was done by a volunteer researcher without incentives or input from One Community or any company.