If you are building, renovating or just looking to ‘green-ify’ your kitchen, there are many things, great and small, you can do to better serve the environment.
Replace water heater
Look for a high Energy Factor (EF). This is the measure of the water heater’s overall efficiency. The higher the EF, the more efficient the appliance.
Electric water heaters have higher Energy Factor ratings than gas-fired water heaters but heating with electricity can be more expensive.
If you can get a tankless water heater they save a lot of energy as water is heated as it flows through the heater, so there are no standby losses. They can be quite costly to install although it will save you money in the long run
A great cost effective way to save energy is to insulate your water heater. Putting an insulation jacket on your water heater reduces standby losses dramatically.
Insulate water pipes
Water can lose heat through the pipes where the building is not insulated. This wastes energy and takes a long time for the water to heat up. A great way to save energy is by insulating the water pipes in their entirety.
Install Water Saving or Low-Flow Taps and Faucets
Installing these water savers will ultimately use less water. There are new products out there that have found ways not to decrease the water pressure.
Kitchen flooring should be durable, water-resistant, and washable. One kitchen flooring option is bamboo as it is a renewable material, just watch for formaldehyde binders and toxic stains. Maple floors are a better choice if you prefer wood. When choosing wood use water-based, low-permeability sealants to avoid harmful off-gassing. Other floors such as ceramic tile, concrete and natural linoleum that are easily maintained and cleaned are more eco-friendly.
There are many companies that use recycled content in their ceramic tile, stone tile, or exposed concrete. They happen to be more durable than wood and require less ongoing maintenance, making them cheaper and greener.
Natural linoleum is made from natural materials including linseed oil, jute, and wood dust. It is durable and can be installed without toxic adhesives.
Let The Light In
Before installing artificial lights consider how to optimise natural light by windows and skylights.
Choose Energy-Efficient Lights
There have been many improvements in the flourescent light markets of late, so there are some products out there to rival the incandescent globes of the past. LED lighting is now a viable option. LEDs produce as much light as incandescent lights but use 1/10 of the electricity of an incandescent bulb. The initial cost for LED lighting is higher but will save you energy and replacement bulb costs since they will last for 10 years or more.
Try to choose cabinets and bench tops that are made with low or toxin free material. Formaldehyde can be replaced with MDF (formaldehyde free glue). Use semi-gloss low or no VOC paints. They are water based and much better than their toxic counterparts.
Refrigerators consume more energy than any other appliance in the kitchen, so this is a great place to start if you are looking to save energy. Look for high energy savers, as there can be a lot to choose from. Avoid locating your refrigerator close to heat sources such as the stove or microwave, as heat ducts and even bright sunlight will reduce the efficiency of your refrigerator. Most of the energy used for dishwashers comes from heating the water, so look for models that heat less water.
Decisions being made for your house at the start of the project determine how much energy will be required to operate the house. Be wise and research as many options as possible.
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