You plan to spend many hours in your new or remodelled kitchen, so you want it to reflect your concern for the environment. Lucky for you, a kitchen renovation offers you many opportunities to make your home more eco-friendly. Every component has sustainable, toxin-free or energy-efficient options.
Consider the suggestions below as you plan your new, eco-friendly kitchen.
- Choose sustainable materials.
A complete kitchen renovation involves installing custom cabinetry, replacing old flooring, choosing new benchtops and finishing with eye-catching backsplashes. Use sustainable or biodegradable materials for each project. Top options include:
- Timber sourced from re-growth forests
- Bamboo, cork or eucalyptus, which re-grow rapidly
- Recycled stone composite
- Linoleum made from renewable cork and linseed oil
- Recycled tile
- Natural stone
- Pick paint without VOCs.
VOC stands for volatile organic compounds, chemicals that emit polluting vapours in basic living conditions. You want a VOC free kitchen because these compounds pollute the environment and reduce indoor air quality.
- Replace old appliances.
Appliance manufacturers add new eco-friendly features every year, which means appliances from a decade ago use significantly more energy than today’s models. Include funds in your budget to replace all your major appliances, such as:
- Install a power strip for smaller appliances.
If you leave smaller appliances plugged in around the clock, they use energy all that time. Don’t worry; you can leave these appliances on the benchtop for convenience. Simply ask your renovator to put in a power strip near that area. Save energy by flipping its power switch to “off” when you don’t use the appliances.
- Choose energy-saving lighting.
Ensure that each lighting fixture you choose accepts fluorescent bulbs. These bulbs provide the same light intensity but require around half the amount of energy. You’ll notice the savings on your monthly utility bills.
- Position windows for light and ventilation.
Windows offer you another way to invite light into your kitchen. Place energy-efficient windows on each exterior wall in your kitchen and dining areas. Energy-efficient windows seal temperature-controlled air indoors, allowing your HVAC system to operate less. Plus, you’ll enjoy natural light and need electricity only during night-time hours, which also lowers your energy usage.
Windows also give you a simple way to enhance indoor ventilation. Place two windows directly across from each other. When temperatures outside are comfortable and mildly breezy, open both windows and let the air blow through your kitchen for a zero- energy cooling solution. Remember to flip off your furnace or air-conditioner before you open the window for maximum energy savings.
- Shop for water-saving taps.
Tasks you perform in the kitchen sink don’t require intense water pressure, so pick a low-flow tap. Look for taps with aerators or flow restrictors. Those features slow tap discharge to as low as 2 litres per minute, a big improvement over typical faucet discharge of 15 to 18 litres per minute.
- Create a recycling centre.
Your kitchen storage space likely includes a location for your garbage bin. In that same area, create a place for recycling bins. You may even want several bins that allow you to separate discarded materials into metal, glass, paper and organics for your compost pile.
- Use plants as finishing touches.
Complete your eco-friendly kitchen with elements of the outdoor environment you’ve helped preserve. Plants will enhance air quality by turning carbon dioxide into breathable oxygen.
Try the following methods for bringing the outdoors inside:
- Grow herbs in a planter box near a window that sits in full sunlight.
- Place a few potted plants in a row on a shelf.
- Place a single, larger potted plant on top of your refrigerator or cabinets.
As you plan for your kitchen renovation, consult this list often. Choose renovators who share your commitment to preserving the environment, and soon you’ll find yourself in your new, eco-friendly kitchen.