Today it’s all about being green — as in conservation smart and saving energy whenever possible. The kitchen is often an energy hog because of dishwashers, lighting, appliances gobbling electricity and more. You can update your kitchen without gutting it down to the studs to make it more energy-friendly. Here are tips from freelance writer Naomi Shaw!
Ways to Go from Conventional
to a Green Kitchen!
by Naomi Shaw!
The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in any home. It can also be one of the least green, as the kitchen generally uses the most energy out of any room in a house. Energy consumption is the main flaw of most conventional kitchens. Even the utensils, pots, and pans you use can affect how green your kitchen is. There are many elements that go into turning a conventional kitchen into a green one. Some changes are easier to make while others require more investment, but each of the steps discussed in this article will bring you closer to a green kitchen.
You may think that dishwashers are not energy efficient and therefore not green, but when used correctly, dishwashers can be more green than washing dishes by hand. It is estimated that running a full load of dishes in a dishwasher uses 37% less energy than hand washing the same amount of dishes. The key phrase to this statistic is “a full load of dishes.” If you run your dishwasher with less than a full load of dishes, then handwashing those same dishes is likely more energy-efficient. Wait for a full load of dishes before running the dishwasher; one full load uses far less energy and water than two half-filled loads. Modern dishwashers often have an economy setting that is designed to save energy and water. You can also turn off the heated dry option and let your dishes air dry to save more energy.
When shopping for new appliances look for Energy Star rating stickers. Energy Star is a government-backed program dedicated to informing consumers about the most energy-efficient appliances. Since 1992, Energy Star and partnered programs have helped Americans save 4 trillion kilowatt-hours which equates to the annual emissions of 600 million cars. Energy Star labeled appliances are certified to be energy efficient, making them a good buy for a green kitchen.
Technology is advancing at a rapid rate, but those advancements are not always necessary or green. A refrigerator that can connect to the Internet may be convenient, but ultimately superfluous and indulgent. Truly look at the features an appliance has and determine if you actually need them. Features come at a cost; not only does an appliance stuffed with features cost more, but they also use more energy.
Fridges generally do not use the most energy out of all kitchen appliances when working correctly. Obviously, leaving the fridge door open will use more energy, so limit the amount of time you browse an open fridge for something to eat. However, if the seal of the door has been compromised cold air will leak out. When a fridge is leaking cold air, it will use more energy to maintain the correct temperature. An easy way to see if a fridge is leaking through the seals is to close the door on a piece of paper then pull the paper out. If the paper slides out with little effort the seal is likely leaking and should be investigated further. Older fridges, like the ones commonly stuck in garages for excess storage, suck up a lot of energy. Consider if you actually need that older fridge and if you do, look into switching it out with a newer one.
Test of Time
Whether it be appliances or cooking utensils, ensure that whatever you bring into your kitchen will withstand the test of time. Replacing items frequently is wasteful and not green. Rather than buying what is cheap and replacing it, invest in items that last longer though they may cost more initially. A classic example of this idea is non-stick vs cast iron or stainless steel. Non-stick pans are cheap but have a shorter life than the more expensive cast iron or stainless steel pans. It is worth the upfront cost to buy better quality longer lasting kitchen items to save money and help the planet.
Lighting in a kitchen is important because cooking requires being able to clearly see what you are doing and how the food is reacting. When cooking, you do not want to be struggling to see what is going on, so investing in a good lighting system is a must. Thankfully, good lighting can also be green. LED bulbs use 75% less energy and last far longer than incandescent bulbs. SO not only do LED bulbs use less power, but they need to be replaced less frequently than conventional bulbs. When upgrading any electrical component always double-check your fuses and breakers to make sure your system is ready for the upgrades.
Should you decide to remodel your kitchen, try to use green materials to minimize the environmental impact. There are plenty of green options for countertops and floors, but finding the right material can take some research.
When it comes to decorations, try to use reclaimed or second-hand items. Using found fittings, panelings, cabinets, and other kitchen items is more green than buying new items. Second-hand items have also proven that they can withstand the test of time, meaning you will likely not need to replace them for a while.
Transforming your conventional kitchen into a green kitchen is not complicated, but it does take work. Energy-efficient appliances go a long way towards making your kitchen green. Use pots, pans, and accessories that have a long use life to reduce waste. LED lighting will keep your kitchen illuminated without wasting energy. Each of these steps will help transform your kitchen from conventional to green.
Bio of Naomi Shaw:
Naomi Shaw lives in Southern California with her husband and three kids. She is a freelance journalist and Stay-at-Home mom that enjoys writing on fashion, beauty, green living, and interior design.
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