6 Steps to an Energy-Efficient Kitchen

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

The kitchen is one of the most frequently used rooms in the entire home, and a large chunk of your utility bill comes from cooking, turning the lights on, and running the oven and dishwasher. So, why not find a way to cut down on your monthly bill? You can design your kitchen to be more efficient and do your part to save the environment at the same time. Here are some tips for energy-efficient kitchen design:

1. New appliances

The first step to making your kitchen more efficient is to buy Energy Star appliances. These have met strict standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that ensure they’re efficient. These appliances will cut your utility bill costs by at least 30 percent a year, if not more. Appliances with this label include:

As of now, there are no Energy Star-rated ovens, ranges, or microwaves.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

2. LED and CFL lighting

Another simple, quick way to increase the energy efficiency of your kitchen is to replace all of the incandescent and fluorescent bulbs with LED and CFL lighting. LED lights can be added as accent lighting underneath or above cabinets. CFL lighting often replaces bulbs, whether in hanging lamps or as recessed lighting. They burn just as brightly for a fraction of the cost. They’re also cooler than incandescent bulbs, and they don’t give off a buzzing noise like fluorescent bulbs. Either of these lighting types are a better, more efficient alternative for your kitchen—and one that will significantly cut down on costs.

3. Pipe insulation

Insulating your hot water pipes will improve efficiency and prevent heat loss. You can install fiberglass insulation around the pipes or sleeves to keep the pipes warm and toasty. You might even consider an on-demand hot water pump. These are designed to send hot water through your home instantly, which reduces your costs by not requiring the water to run through the faucet before it gets hot. A quality electrician can check your power system to make sure it can handle the demand.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

4. Low-flow faucets

Another way to increase water efficiency is to replace the faucets in your kitchen with low-flow alternatives. This will decrease water usage immensely. Low-flow water faucets are affordable, and your water usage will go down by about 60 percent, if not more. You can also install water faucets that keep the water pressure up so you don’t have a slow-flow faucet.

5. “Green” materials

Once you have the appliances and plumbing taken care of, it’s time to look at other materials in your kitchen. You want green products that are durable and low maintenance, but you also want to help the environment as well. For the flooring, consider bamboo. This is made from a plant that grows back easily and is in ample supply, so you’re not negatively impacting nature as much as you would with lumber. For your cabinets, consider recycled materials like lumber from a supply store. You want to make sure that any timber is FSC-certified and recycled, rather than new lumber that comes from a recently felled tree.

6. Low- to no-VOC chemicals

When choosing cabinets or paint, avoid compositions containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This is for your health and the efficiency of your kitchen. VOCs can evaporate and get into the air when the kitchen is hot, such as when you’re cooking or when the sun is shining into the room, and you can inhale the compound and harm your lungs. This can lead to health hazards like eye, nose and throat irritation, along with allergy symptoms.

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