For many people, living in a green home is how they do their part to help contribute to a cleaner, healthier environment for all. But if you’re not very familiar with the green trend, you may be under the impression that creating a green environment is a costly undertaking, particularly when remodeling for a green kitchen. However, making your kitchen more energy and water efficient will actually save you money in the long run. By choosing the right products and making the right design choices, you can have a fully functioning green kitchen in no time.
Kitchens in general tend to require the use of a lot of energy and a lot of water. But there are many ways that you can reduce the amount of energy and water used in your kitchen while reducing utility costs. It’s an absolute win-win situation. So how do you go about getting started? Start with the basics. As with any regular kitchen remodel, make a list of whatever it is that you’ll need to make your space as efficient as possible. This includes storage space, countertop space, and appliances. You may want to refer to our handy “Assessing Your Needs” questionnaire for help. Next, take a closer look at your list. Are there places where you can scale down? One of the best ways to create an energy efficient kitchen is to keep it to a reasonable size. This might mean rethinking that extra sink or that wine cooler. Keeping a good balance between what’s convenient and what’s absolutely necessary is a great way to keep yourself from expending excess energy or using too much water.
When you begin shopping for your products, be on the lookout for green materials. You can find green materials for cabinets, countertops, flooring, and even finishes. Look for cabinets made of FSC-certified woods or another sustainable material such as bamboo. Be sure to choose cabinets and countertops which utilize low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) adhesives and finishes, as high VOC levels can cause illness after consistent exposure.
When appliance shopping, you should also look for ways to save energy. There are tons of energy saving appliances on the market so finding one shouldn’t be too difficult. When designing your kitchen, it’s important not to place any heat-generating appliances directly next to your refrigerator. All appliances should have adequate space to vent away residual heat. Also try to keep your refrigerator out of direct sunlight.
Proper ventilation is always important when considering your kitchen remodel. Some traditional ventilation units recirculate the air right back into the kitchen, or up into an attic. Install a ventilation unit which directs the air outside, rather than trapping it inside. If you’re doing a complete gut renovation, think about the number of windows you’ll be installing. Strategically placed windows and skylights can help maximize energy performance, but too many windows may leave your kitchen vulnerable to overheating on particularly sunny days.
If you plan on having your plumbing redone, be sure to use short and direct plumbing runs that are located in the interior rather than exterior walls. Direct plumbing allows you to save on energy and will allow for a faster delivery of hot water. Locating your plumbing in the exterior walls will make your home much harder to heat and also leave you vulnerable to mold issues or frozen pipes. Be sure to shop for faucets and water fixtures that have been certified by the EPA’s WaterSense program as being water-efficient in order to reduce water waste while saving on your water bill.
Your kitchen lighting is another area of opportunity for conserving energy. Use a mix of task and ambient lighting where necessary, and use energy-efficient fixtures, such as those certified by Energy Star. Also, try to avoid placing recessed lights in insulated ceilings, as this can be a great drain on energy.
Of course, there are even more in-depth ways to keep your kitchen energy efficient if you desire to do so. Doing the proper research can help guide you to the right materials and the right construction and design methods necessary for the conservation of energy and long-term savings.