The main goals of an environmentally friendly kitchen remodel should be to reduce energy use, reuse or recycle materials, and minimize the carbon footprint of your project. To achieve this, keep the following five tips in mind while planning and purchasing your new kitchen. You’ll be guaranteed a greener, cleaner kitchen.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
Reduce the use of new materials by reusing where possible and recycling when not. Cabinet doors can be upcycled into a new desk, serving trays for your new kitchen, or any number of other inventive uses.
Old flooring, if carefully removed, can be put to good use in a shed or tree house. Get creative and don’t throw materials away until you’re sure there are no ways you can repurpose them. If you can’t find a use, dispose of them properly. Many municipalities offer appliance-recycling services, or consider donating still-working appliances to local non-profits.
Consider Energy Use
Choosing Energy Star rated appliances is the easy part when it comes to saving energy in a kitchen remodel, but what about the products that aren’t rated? Ovens and stovetops, for example, don’t receive Energy Star certification, but that doesn’t mean they are all equal when it comes to energy use. This post gives a rundown on the best options for saving energy while cooking. And don’t forget about the smaller built-in appliances that often get replaced in a remodel. The range hood is literally an energy sucker — taking warm or cool air out of the home while it’s operating. Select an Energy Star rated range hood to reduce this energy drain, and make sure to use energy-saving LED bulbs in this and any other appliance that requires lighting.
Evaluate the Source
It’s a common misconception that energy use begins when the consumer turns on an appliance. In fact, the amount of energy expended on manufacturing and shipping materials and products can have a huge impact on an appliance’s overall carbon footprint. For example, Italian marble not only costs you a lot more than marble made in the USA, but it costs the planet in unnecessary energy spent shipping it across the ocean. Sourcing locally or regionally made products should be at the top of your checklist when choosing materials. For example, if you live near a limestone quarry, definitely consider concrete countertops.
Conserve Natural Resources
Purchasing products made from renewable or recycled materials, such as concrete, wood or recycled glass countertops, is essential for a green kitchen remodel, and thankfully the options are increasing on a daily basis. Recycled paper, glass, FSC certified or salvaged wood and stainless steel are just some of the stylish and eco-friendly options currently available.
If you want the stone look, however, ECO by Cosentino has developed a countertop that resembles the color and texture of granite and contains up to 75 percent recycled post-industrial and post-consumer materials. The company sources glass from mirrors salvaged from houses, building and factories, glass from windshields, windows and bottles, and granulated glass from consumer recycling. They also get porcelain from china, tiles, sinks and toilets to produce a very attractive stone-like material that doesn’t require the use of any sealant.
ECO by Cosentino is an environmentally friendly, non-porous countertop made from 75-percent recycled content.
Watch the Water
You don’t have to live in California right now to acknowledge that conserving water should be a top priority. Installing aerators on your current faucets or purchasing an eco-friendly kitchen faucet can restrict the flow down to 1.5 gallons per minute, helping reduce water use by about 30 percent. Additionally, installing an on-demand, tankless water heater eliminates wasted energy spent keeping water hot in a tank.
Also consider installing a hot water dispenser in your sink. Having hot water on tap saves considerable energy required to boil pots or a kettle on a stove, as well as preventing wasted water while you wait for cool water to heat up.
An instant hot water dispenser can be a big energy saver if you boil a lot of water.
Achieving a green kitchen remodel is really just a matter of doing your research and fully understanding the qualities and origins of the products you are bringing into your home. Combine that with reducing or eliminating any waste, and you are on the right track towards a healthier home and happier planet.
Jennifer Tuohy cares about the environment and tries her best to keep her carbon footprint to a minimum. She provides advice for The Home Depot on topics such as how to remodel your kitchen with green materials and products. To find a selection of the kitchen products that Jennifer talks about in this article, visit Home Depot's website.
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