3 Steps to a Greener Kitchen
Restaurants around the country are greening themselves in hopes of attracting clients, saving money, and at the very least, staying afloat. While commercial kitchens use vast amounts of energy to regulate temperatures, power appliances, and light surfaces, residential kitchens can take advantage of some of the same techniques and a few others, allowing homeowners to protect the environment and save money through new design features and conscientious choices.
What you bring in:
Every day new appliances that use less energy and water are hitting the market. Investing in some of this equipment can save money, but it’s important not to get lost in the hype. Make sure to research the models and find the ones that will provide energy savings without sacrificing features you want. Remember, bigger isn’t always better. Upgrading to an energy efficient model that is larger than what you need may not provide a great deal of savings. Energy Star rated appliances are a good place to start looking. Stoves, dishwashers, garbage disposals, and microwaves are all available with this rating. However, if you cannot afford to invest in new appliances throughout the kitchen, start with the refrigerator. As one of the highest energy-use appliances, making the switch to an Energy Star rated fridge can save several hundred dollars within a year’s time. The Energy Star website offers a savings calculator to determine how much money you would save by trading that old fridge for a new energy-efficient model.
Properly lit dining and food preparation areas within the kitchen can lead to major expenditures in electricity, so reflecting on light fixtures is a must. Consider converting to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) for task lighting in the kitchen. CFLs do not have the color rendering qualities of incandescent bulbs, so an incandescent might remain over the dining table to create a warmer atmosphere and make food look more appetizing. Use CFLs in food prep areas to efficiently light work surfaces. An energy star rated bulb uses approximately 75% less energy than a conventional bulb and just one CFL can save around $30 on your electric bill in its lifetime. Take a look at the varying shapes, sizes, and color given off by new CFLs.
The most efficient lighting source is a natural one. Daylight often goes underutilized in the kitchen, but installing new energy-efficient windows and skylights can provide low-energy lighting and provide a comfortable environment indoors. Sunlight can also limit the amount of heat and cold transfer in and out of your home, regulating your indoor temperature while providing the kitchen with lighting during daylight hours. Worried about fading? Specially tinted windows protect your flooring and furnishings from damage, while limiting glare on work surfaces in the kitchen.
What you take out:
Manufacturers are constantly redesigning products to become more sustainable and appealing to consumers. One way to make households more eco-friendly is by creating products that are accessible and make sustainable habits easily adopted. To promote composting, indoor compost pails are now available with charcoal or carbon filters to eliminate food odors. Produced with a variety of features and finishes, indoor compost pails can range anywhere in price from $15 to $50. Carbon filters, lasting up to three months, cost as little as $4 when it’s time to be replaced. Now found in stainless steel, ceramic, and hammered copper, compost pails are no longer the plastic eyesores that were once the only option. And if you’re still not keen on the idea of displaying your compost, consider an indoor compost pail with a snap-lock lid that is easily mounted under a cabinet sold by Gardener’s Supply Company . Pails lined with Biobags, biodegradable bags thrown into the outdoor compost pile along with the food scraps, can hold up to a gallon of food at a time. By creating an easily accessible, mess and odor free pail, composting can become an easily adopted habit for the homeowner and family, eliminating waste and producing valuable compost.
While residential kitchens don’t use the high amounts of energy that commercial kitchens do, there are certainly opportunities to reduce consumption. Taking advantage of new products and design ideas can save money and energy. Nothing wrong with helping your pocketbook while helping the environment!