How to Build a Sustainably Green Kitchen
Green Ideas for your Raleigh New Home
The following article is a guest column, courtesy of Douglas Elliman Real Estate Agency, supplying premium Brooklyn Apartments.
Everyone is jumping on the environmental bandwagon, wanting to find ways to reduce his or her carbon footprint and help make the planet healthy for future generations. If you own a home it can be difficult to decide where to begin.
Most families live in the kitchen, and most of your energy costs are generated there, too. It only makes sense to begin “greening” your home in the most popular room in the house.
The refrigerator is the biggest energy consumer in your home. It runs and cycles 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. When it’s time to replace your refrigerator, consider downsizing. Many of us have much larger refrigerator/freezers than we really need. A smaller unit will save you money.
Also look into energy-rated appliances. They may cost more initially, but the energy savings will pay for them in the long run.
While you’re at it, get rid of the extra machine in the garage.
Make sure your fridge is in good working order. If you notice unusual ice buildup in the freezer or you have to crank the dial to keep it cold, have it looked at and repaired or replaced.
Improperly working machines must work harder to cool, increasing energy usage and costs.
Gas stoves and ovens are efficient, easy to use and less expensive to operate than electric. If you love the clean look of an electric cook top, make sure to buy an energy efficient induction model.
Cabinets, Countertops and Floors
If your home has been around a few years, you may have solid wood cabinetry in the kitchen that has been obscured by years of varnish or paint. Instead of gutting the entire kitchen, consider refinishing your cabinets. Sanding and re-staining your cabinet doors and adding new hardware can modernize your kitchen with minimal waste.
If you really hate the look of your cabinets, consider replacing only the doors and facings.
Incorporating dedicated bins for composting and recycling into your new cabinets will make it convenient to reduce waste.
Environmentally friendly composite countertops are available that mimic the look of stone – for a fraction of the price.
Sustainable woods like bamboo, high-quality laminates and recycled brick, tile or hardwoods are all earth-friendly choices when replacing floors.
Finally, if your current cabinets must go, consider purchasing certified green products (through the National Green Building Program), such as Timberlake Cabinetry.
The easiest thing you can do to conserve water is to install a low-flow faucet in your kitchen sink. It may take a little getting used to, but in time it will more than pay for itself.
Investing in a new dishwasher is another way to “green” your kitchen. Modern dishwashers heat the water instead of relying on water from the household heater, reducing energy loss through the pipes.
Manufacturer’s tests have shown that even the most frugal hand washers can’t beat new energy-rated appliances, which typically use less than ten gallons of water per cycle.
A few tips: Don’t rinse dishes before loading, only run the machine when it’s fully loaded and skip the dry cycle whenever possible. The water is heated to a high enough temperature to dry the dishes through evaporation if the door is left open after running.
Replacing incandescent bulbs can reduce energy costs. The problem is that many older kitchens are equipped with tube fluorescents in large fixtures.
You may have to spend a little money to save money.
Have an electrician remove old fixtures and replace them with recessed lighting and LED lamps.
While that work is being done, you can also have your kitchen rewired into lighting “zones” with spotlights over work areas including the sink, the stove and the table.
You can reduce energy usage by only lighting the areas where you are working instead of the entire kitchen.
By incorporating these types of “green” features and fixtures into a sustainable kitchen design, you can do something nice for the planet and save money at the same time.
ecoSelect Third Party Energy Certification –
The ecoSelect certification in your new home indicates that the construction is designed to provide higher levels of energy efficiency, per the national HERS index, with better indoor air quality and water efficiency than standard new homes. We're not afraid to have third party inspectors check our homes carefully, for your piece of mind and long term value. Learn more about new homes with lower energy costs, here.