Creating an Energy Efficient Kitchen Can Be Easier Than You Think
When considering a kitchen remodel, it is a good opportunity for many families to look into some more energy efficient options for their home. Everything from the appliances to the kitchen cabinets themselves can potentially be upgraded to more sustainable and less wasteful versions.
Not only are energy efficient kitchens more environmentally friendly, but often there are tax incentives or lower-cost materials involved. If you are considering adding more energy efficient features to your new kitchen, ask your general contractor about the following five design elements.
Energy Efficient Appliances
The good thing about kitchen appliances is that they are typically designed to last and run for many years. Of course, a refrigerator built in the early 90s will not have the benefit of the technology that is available now. You could be paying a much higher electric bill to run an old refrigerator than you would be paying for a new energy efficient model, meaning it might make better financial and environmental sense to trade it in for a newer model.
One easy way to spot energy efficient home appliances is to look for models that are Energy Star rated. These appliances have met certain minimum standards for efficient use of resources, and may even qualify purchasers for a tax deduction.
Low Flow Faucets
Many studies have shown that a slight reduction in faucet flow can reduce water usage, water waste, and therefore your water bill, without necessarily having a noticeable impact to the user. Efficiently designed low flow faucets help conserve water, while also offering a similar level of utility to their older counterparts.
There are many different types of low flow faucets available, and some faucet models can even be converted to low flow by adding a small adapter. Ask your kitchen designer what your options are for water saving faucets in your new kitchen.
Even if you recently purchased an energy-efficient and properly insulated hot water heater, this does not necessarily mean that the pipes running between that water heater and your faucets are also insulated. Many homes still have the original piping from when they were built, which means that in some cases the plumbing in your home could be 50 years old or more.
Adding insulation to your pipes means that you are losing less heat to the air as the hot water travels from the heater to the faucet. As an added bonus, you will not have to worry about pipes freezing in the winter, especially if they run along an exterior wall.
LED and CFL Lighting
Chances are, your kitchen is lit by a combination of incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. Both of these lighting sources were just fine about 30 years ago, but in the intervening years we have come up with much more efficient lighting options.
CFL lighting often replaces the main lighting sources in the kitchen. Not only are these lights just as bright (if not a bit brighter) than your current lighting, but they also give off less heat and cost significantly less to run.
LED lighting is often used as accent lighting, and like CFL it is cooler and less expensive. Swapping out lighting can be done very inexpensively, and it will definitely save you money in the long run.
Green or Sustainable Building Materials
You have probably already heard about bamboo floors. This material replenishes itself rapidly, and is considered much more sustainable than hardwood trees which take decades to grow. Of course, your floors are not the only area in which you can use green materials.
Many counter tops can be made from recycled glass or composite materials, and some tile or concrete options may contain some recycled materials as well. These are cheaper for manufacturers to make, because they are not using all new materials, and they have less of an impact on the environment.
If a greener or more energy efficient kitchen is your main goal, be sure to talk to your home remodeling contractor or designer as you plan out your upgrades. There are lots of little things you can do to make a big impact on your energy bill.