When you plan a remodel, are you considered with the impact your actions will have on the environment? When it comes to remodeling, the kitchen can sometimes be the worst energy drain in your whole house. Stovetops and ovens, refrigerators, and dishwashers can all use a lot of energy and run up your electric bill. Here are some ways to remodel your kitchen and go green at the same time.
1. Eco-friendly Flooring
When putting in new flooring for your kitchen, some good environmental choices include bamboo, linoleum, cork and clay saltillo tiles. These options look just as good as more traditional flooring choices, and they are durable, made from natural and renewable resources and won’t give off the harsh fumes associated with flooring types that are processed using strong chemicals. With proper maintenance, these types of floors can be an affordable green alternative.
2. Energy Star Appliances
Appliances are possibly the biggest drainers of energy in the house. If your appliances are more than five years old, it might be more cost-effective to replace them with newer, more energy-efficient models. Opting for an Energy Star product can help to reduce both energy consumption and your electric bill. When shopping for dishwashers, opt for one that features an energy-saving or quick-wash cycle as well as an air-dry option. In regards to refrigerators, choosing a model with the freezer on top instead of the side-by-side configuration can help save 10-25% in energy costs.
3. Water Purifiers
Bottled water costs a great deal more than tap water and leads to an immense amount of unnecessary waste. Investing in a water filter or purifier can help eliminate most impurities in regular water. A purifier that fits under the sink can remove contaminants before they even reach the faucet.
4. Energy Efficient Lighting
Changing your light bulbs can also help to make your kitchen greener. A fluorescent or compact fluorescent bulb may use anywhere from 50% to 90% less energy than an incandescent bulb and can save you $30-$40 on electricity over its lifetime.
Opt for sustainable kitchen cabinets that are made from certified wood or wood products that have been produced using sustainable forest management practices. This ensures that they are free of harmful chemicals like formaldehyde and won’t give off toxic gases that would be bad for you as well as the environment.
Green countertops are made from recycled materials and manufactured in an environmentally friendly manner. The glue and binders are low in toxic materials, and the countertops are durable, resembling such materials as limestone and soapstone.
You can recycle your paper, plastic, metal and glass materials so that they don’t end up in a landfill. If you design your kitchen well, you can even build in a recycling unit by installing lower cabinets that have pull-out recycling bins to help you keep it all organized. Some are designed to fit under holes in the counter so you can just wipe items off the counter and into the bin.
If you heed a few of these suggestions, you will find yourself with a much more environmentally-friendly kitchen, and you will most likely see a reduction in your electricity bill as well.
Steve Airth is the General Manager of Triple R Construction, a contractor that specializes in remodeling and home renovations Victoria BC residents depend on.