For many families, the kitchen is the room in the house where the most energy is consumed. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, lighting, refrigeration and cooking are responsible for almost 50% of a home’s energy consumption. Add dishwashers, fridges and washing machines, and you’ve got an environmental hot spot…
Using environmentally friendly cleaning products, recycling and using biodegradable bin liners are just a few ways families are going green in the kitchen. However one of the most important, and significant changes many households are making is buying and using energy efficient kitchen appliances.
There are many companies who are now making eco friendly appliances for the kitchen. Some appliances are even made to work together collectively to achieve energy conservation – Some of them use the water and heat to fuel other appliances or features. New ideas include making use of the heat from a refrigerator’s compressor to provide hot water for the kitchen and potentially save you 25% on your heating bills as well as help with energy conservation.
Did you know that many of the newer, more energy efficient dishwashers use less water than old models? Additionally, many of them are engineered so that you don’t have to waste additional water rinsing your dishes before you place them into the dishwasher. When buying an energy efficient dishwasher, choose a compact model, and remember to run it only when it’s full to help save both energy and water.
Do you still use an oven that requires preheating? Most newer models have made preheating a thing of the past, thus just one of the ways energy efficient ovens can help you reduce energy consumption. And remember, when it’s time to use the oven, always try to cook more than one dish.
Energy efficient appliances can save you between 10 – 50% in monthly energy costs. So by purchasing energy efficient appliances you’re not only doing your part to help protect the environment, you’re also saving a substantial sum on energy costs too.
The following are some high-impact green kitchen design ideas:
1. Energy-Efficient Kitchen Appliances
Advanced technology now means that appliances can use 10 to 50 percent less energy and water than standard models so look for the Energy Rating when considering your refrigerator, dishwasher or washing machine purchases for the kitchen remodeling project.
Refrigerators are the second-biggest energy hogs in the house (heating and cooling systems are first). If you’re replacing an older model, find one with the Energy Star label (which designates appliances that use 10 to 50 percent less energy than standard models), and don’t buy a bigger fridge than you really need.
* Induction Stoves
Induction cooking uses electricity to produce a magnetic field that reacts with the ferric content in stainless steel, cast iron, and enameled steel cookware. This excites the molecules and produces heat. The cookware (and therefore the food) gets hot, but the stove-top doesn’t. Less heat is wasted and the food heats faster, saving time and energy. Induction cooking is about 90 percent energy efficient as compared to gas and electric radiant, which are 50 to 60 percent efficient.
* Dishwashers and Washing Machines
Use a full load in your dishwasher and washing machine. If you are thinking of buying a new washing machine, make sure you buy a water efficient model. They will cut your emissions in half!
2. Other Important Features
* Stained Concrete or Indigenous Stone Kitchen Counter-tops
Your kitchen design should include materials that are durable and water-resistant for both counter tops and back-splashes. Stained concrete uses non-toxic, natural pigments rather than surface-applied stains. Many types of indigenous stone are available and can come from salvage sources. Make sure they are adequately sealed to prevent staining.
* Waste Disposal machines
These are ideal for reducing the physical amount of food waste down to small pieces. Then start a compost bin or wormery where worms can compost down the food waste more efficiently. Use the compost on your houseplants or garden.
* Kitchen Recycling Center
Look for sets of kitchen recycling bins that allow you to easily separate trash – paper, food, bottles, plastics, etc.
* Energy-Efficient Task Lighting and Lighting Controls
Kitchen designs often include two or three light settings such as general, task lighting, and mood lighting. Maximize natural light wherever possible and low voltage systems for task and mood lighting.
* Eco-Friendly Kitchen Flooring
Products manufactured from renewable forests can provide you with a beautiful, affordable and durable floor – and an environmentally responsible choice. Bamboo, cork, and eucalyptus mature in roughly half the time (or less) that it takes hardwoods, grown in colder climates, to reach market size.
* Wall Insulation
Nothing improves the comfort and energy efficiency of a kitchen more than plenty of insulation in the exterior walls. To add insulation to existing kitchen walls, blow fibrous insulation material – fiberglass or natural materials like cellulose and mineral wool – into enclosed wall, floor and roof cavities. “Dense packing” the insulation inhibits air circulation within the cavities, thereby eliminating a major cause of condensation, moisture problems and air leakage.
* Kitchen Windows, Doors and Skylights
Well-designed windows and skylights can lighten the feel of a kitchen and save on fuel bills as well. Ensure the products used have low heat emission glass with solar shading, which increases the room’s comfort, protects items from sun damage and reduces condensation on windows.