Tips for Turning Your Kitchen Green
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Environmentally friendly products are more widely available today than ever before. As the public concern grows over the consequences of chemical off-gassing, the use of VOCs in paints, and oil and gas security, more options are marketed. Sometimes, green technology makes more budgetary sense, too. After all, if you can save on your electricity bill, why not? If you aren’t too familiar with what is available on the market today, read on for great tips on how to help your kitchen go green.
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Unfortunately, there aren’t many cabinet materials available that are truly green. Using wood that is reclaimed is one great option, however. Many architectural salvage yards and community green building groups offer a wide variety of reclaimed cabinets. You might need to put in a little elbow grease to bring them up to speed, however. Another option is to buy cabinets from companies that are committed to replanting and replenishing forests, or to buy cabinets made of rapidly renewable wood sources, like bamboo. If you do go with new cabinetry, be prepared to shell out a pretty penny. This corner of the market is still relatively small.
Natural stone countertops, including granite countertops, are an excellent green option. They don’t require the chemical treatments, finishes, and energy intensive manufacturing procedures that most other countertop surfaces require. Even countertops made from recycled glass or plastic are often much more energy intensive than granite countertops. Granite also comes in a wide variety of colors, won’t scratch easily or burn, and is a great surface for chocolate making, as well.
Eco-friendly options abound in this area. Everything from paints to caulks, tiles, grouting options, and wallpapers are available in environmentally friendly styles. Many homeowners choose to use reclaimed or salvaged finishes as well. You can find excellent drawer knobs and cabinet knobs in many shops. Even some mainstream retailers occasionally carry reclaimed pieces, due to their popularity. Although cottage chic appears to be the style that gathers the most traction in this area, you can find ecologically friendly designs and pieces for nearly every style imaginable.
Today’s flooring options are numerous, and many are also green. Natural stone and bamboo are two great picks, and cork is also growing in popularity. Improved engineering is helping these green materials compete with the toughest and most durable materials on the market. Linoleum is another good, green option. Its low cost, durability, and environmentally friendly properties are bringing this material back to life. Modern designs and engineering techniques have helped to create linoleum designs that are miles better than their predecessors, and blend well with even the most sophisticated kitchens.
Sky tubes are a great option for kitchens that are located on the first floor of a home. They look similar to recessed lighting, but use a system of mirrors and sunlight to create light. Other options include LED light fixtures, which are now available in numerous styles. The primary drawback with LEDs is their high up-front cost, although you may recoup this cost due to their long life and low use of electricity. Using dimmer switches and motion sensors can help reduce your energy expenditure. Avoid bulbs that expend too much energy, or give off high levels of heat, such as recessed can lights. Fluorescent lights are a good option for homeowners who cannot afford LEDs.
Appliance manufacturers were among the first to recognize the opportunities presented in ecologically friendly design. As a result, numerous refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens, and other appliances are available in energy saving models. Many include ‘eco’ or energy saving modes for operation, in order to maximize energy savings. Consider dishwasher drawers if you only use a small amount of dishes each night, and shop for appliances with the Energy Star label. Energy Star appliances are 10-50% more efficient than their counterparts on the market.
A Word About Water
In addition to cutting back on electricity use and choosing materials from renewable sources, you can also make a difference by watching your water use. Tankless water heaters are a good place to start saving. These use both less water and less energy than tank water heaters. A recirculation pump can keep hot water at the pump and cut back on energy waste as well. This can reduce your use of water by making sure that hot water is always on hand when you need it, and you have no need to run the water while you wait for it to warm up. Installing aerators in your kitchen faucets is also a good move. These tiny devices reduce the amount of water escaping a faucet, without reducing the water pressure.
There are many ways you can green your kitchen. This article covers only a few of the most basic. Hire a contractor who specializes in green technology to help you discover even more ways to save. Although some of the changes may seem small, they can make a world of difference.
Thank you so much for the great tips and information. I have really been wanting a new granite counter top. I cannot wait to see how the finished product turns out. Thanks again!