Create an Eco-Friendly Kitchen

The kitchen, for most families, is the epicenter of the house. We cook, eat and even entertain there. But kitchens are also the biggest energy eaters. Refrigerators are second to heating and cooling units in energy use while our dishwashers and sinks can waste gallons of water, especially hot water heated by electricity or gas, each day. By making a few changes you will not only save money on your energy bills, but also create a safer and eco-friendlier environment.

Here are a few suggestions for a greener kitchen.

  • Refrigerator - When choosing a new refrigerator look for the units with an EU 'A++' rating (the more plusses the better). These guarantee they are 10-50 percent more efficient than other models. Also, consider a top and bottom freezer/refrigerator unit instead of the side-by-side style. Less cold air escapes from these. Using an energy-efficient refrigerator saves you approximately €400 per year while reducing your use of precious energy.
  • Dishwasher - Consider a dishwasher drawer over a conventional style. These not only take up less space in your kitchen, but also use less water when you have a small load. If you have a conventional dishwasher, try not to run a load until it is full. You will save on both water and the energy to heat it.
  • Convection oven - These use a fan to move heat rapidly from source to food to cook 25 percent faster than conventional ovens.
  • Lighting - Wherever possible, use fluorescent or LED lights; they cut your energy use by 50 percent. Also, consider using motion sensors so lights come on automatically and turn off when you leave the room. These will eliminate lights being left on, unused. If remodeling, try adding more natural light by installing larger windows or skylights.
  • Faucets and hot water heaters - Faucets with aerators inject air bubbles into the water stream to create the same pressure with less volume of water used. Also, try tankless hot water heaters that heat water at the source. These use less water and 10-20 percent less energy.
  • Cabinets - Some cabinetry contains urea-formaldehyde, which off-gasses and can be harmful to your health and the environment. If you must have wood cabinets, look for solid wood or those made from materials such as wheatboard. Some cabinet manufacturers are now making wood cabinets from scrap wood. It still makes a nice cabinet while saving trees.
  • Flooring - Bamboo has become popular to use as flooring because it grows faster than trees; it only takes seven years to regenerate a bamboo forest. Bamboo is strong and can stand up well to pets, high heels and other abuse. Cork has also become popular among eco-friendly homeowners. Cork is made from the bark off of trees, is sound absorbing, hypoallergenic and resistant to mold and mildew. One flooring that is making a comeback is linoleum. Linoleum is made from natural materials, is durable and easy to clean.
  • Countertops - Consider countertops made from recycled paper or hemp. These are durable and very easy to clean. Another option is a recycled stone-chipped composite countertop. This countertop resembles granite and holds up just as well.

By using even a few of these eco-friendly tips you can help save the environment one kitchen at a time.

author: Deanna Lynn Sletten

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