Seven Ways to Create a Green Kitchen
Green kitchens employ the use of eco-friendly materials and conserve resources.
Most homeowners consider their kitchen the center for socializing and entertaining rather than their living or dining room. When looking at remodeling their existing kitchen, most people want to implement environmentally friendly materials and appliances. Concern for the environment is the motivation for some homeowners, while others have health issues and need to look at reducing or eliminating allergens. For others still, the main bonus is in cutting down on energy and water consumption costs. Here are 7 ways to make greener choices in this all-important room.
- Many eco-friendly types of floorings are available. Choices are products made from renewable resources such as bamboo, cork, and eucalyptus that mature in half the time it takes for hardwoods. Linoleum is making a huge comeback and it is a product of wood meal, linseed oil, and resin.
- You are ready to apply a fresh coat of paint but dread the fumes that tend to linger long after the paint has dried - consider low- or no-VOC paint. They are becoming more affordable and are more widely available as manufacturers are trying to meet green standards.
- Hands-free faucets with built in aerators reduce water usage and built-in water filters eliminate harmful pollutants in the water. Do not use brass fittings or faucets as they can leach lead. Replace your plumbing with copper pipes, the material of choice, or various plastic pipes such as PVC, COVC, or PEX pipes. However, plastics are petroleum-derived and thus more difficult to recycle.
- Green countertops should be durable, water- and stain-resistant. They are available in tiles, engineered stone (a quartz composite), or in other materials found or recycled from other projects or sites. All come in a variety of colors to match your kitchen. A more recent trend is the concrete countertop, built on site and stained with non-toxic, natural pigments.
- Rather than replacing the cabinets, consider resurfacing or refacing them, using low-VOC paint or stain or laminating them with a new surface. New cabinets made from compressed agricultural plant material (wheat board or strawboard) or bamboo are good alternatives that have low-VOC emissions. If possible, keep the dimensions and reuse drawers and shelves in cabinets.
- Choose appliances with the Energy Star sticker to make your kitchen eco-friendly and save you money. The latest (unfortunately the most expensive) addition to stovetops is the induction cook top, being 90 % energy efficient compared to 40-50% efficiency of standard stovetops. Side-by-side refrigerator/freezers and models that have water and ice dispensers use more electricity than regular models. When choosing a dishwasher look for a model that conserves water and only use it when it is fully loaded as dishwashers draw 80 percent of their electricity to heat water.
- Install a window(s) in close proximity to or a skylight above your workspace so you can use daylight to your advantage. If that is not an option, consider individually controlled task lights and install light-saving bulbs.
Your remodeled eco-friendly kitchen should provide ample workspace, energy-efficient appliances, and good lighting. If planned well, it will give you years of enjoyment and a place to entertain family and guests.
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