Tips For An Energy-Efficient Kitchen
Whether you’ve just unpacked your moving boxes in a new home or are looking to update your current abode, energy-efficient modifications are a great investment. Not only will you be helping the planet, but you could also help lower your monthly utility expenses. Of all the rooms in the house, the kitchen is the best place to start. From what goes into the design of your kitchen to how you use existing appliances, energy-efficiency gains can be made in more ways than one.
The Nuts and Bolts of an Energy-Efficient Kitchen
One of the best moving tips is to make any major changes prior to moving in, as this will save on hassle. This is especially true if you want to renovate certain areas of the kitchen for greater energy savings. Here are some tips on how to save energy through major changes:
- Start by replacing old appliances with new Energy Star-labeled appliances. These appliances can cut the energy bill by a third, and have been approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency and US Department of Energy as appliances that meet their stringent energy guidelines.
- Vacuum coils on the back of the refrigerator regularly. The dust bunnies and dirt can clog the coils, heating up the unit and making it use more energy to maintain the same coolness inside.
- Redesign your kitchen if the refrigerator is close to a dishwasher or stove. Moving it away from a heat source helps keep the refrigerator from having to work extra hard to keep its cool.
- Whether it is for cooking or washing, the kitchen uses a lot of hot water. Replace the old tank water heater with a more efficient tankless water heater. These only heat water on demand, cutting down on both energy and water consumption.
- Get a low-flow kitchen faucet or a low-cost aerator for the tap to reduce water that simply goes down the drain.
- Consider putting in a gas stove if you have an electric one. It uses less energy and many cooks will tell you that it cooks more evenly.
- Switch out the incandescent lighting for compact fluorescent bulbs for less energy consumption. While they may seem more expensive, this is only on the front end; they tend to last for many years without needing a replacement.
Of course, these changes do not have to be made before moving; any kitchen, old or new, can be transformed into an energy-efficient room. As your budget allows, you can pick one project or appliance at a time to replace. Just be sure to check for the rebates and tax allowances for all energy-efficiency plans to make sure you maximize these added incentives for greening your kitchen.
It’s Not Just What You Cook With, It’s How You Use It!
Not everything about an energy-efficient kitchen comes in a box from a green plumbing company or environmentally conscious appliance store. You can make your kitchen a green one simply by adjusting your own habits and behaviors. Here are some tips on what you can do around the kitchen to increase energy efficiency:
- Use a composter instead of relying on a garbage disposal. This will save a lot of water and will give you some great fertilizer for your garden!
- Don’t use the tap for washing everything. Instead, rinse fruits and vegetables in a pan of water to help reduce the amount of water used.
- Cut back on the number of dishes used by combining or reusing plates for snacks as well as beverage glasses to further reduce water usage.
- Keep an eye on your water bill. Any big jumps could signal you have dripping taps or leaky pipes somewhere in the house.
- Use a microwave or toaster oven to reheat items or make individual meals. Another more efficient cooking device to add is a Crock-Pot. Not only does it use less energy, but it helps the busy career chef serve up a delicious dinner with less effort.
- Check the setting in your freezer or refrigerator. It probably does not have to be set as cold as it is.
- Give up that second, old refrigerator in the garage. It might have been a great extra for those bulk buys and extra cans of soda and beer; however, it is really better to buy less (as so much of it often goes to waste) and cut yourself free of this energy albatross. Keep in mind, this does not mean that you should overstuff your new Energy Star refrigerator or freezer either. This will make the appliance work much too hard and use unnecessary energy.
- Do not overload your dishwasher. Cramming in as much as possible is not using it efficiently or saving water for that matter. It simply means more dishes will be stuck going through a second dishwasher run in which you actually use more water.
Lastly, here are some final thoughts for an energy-efficient kitchen that, while they seem obvious, may be forgotten in the daily rush:
- Turn off the kitchen lights if you are not cooking, washing or noshing.
- Unplug appliances that are not being used, like a toaster oven or coffee pot.
- Do not bother with preheating your oven for foods, despite what the recipes may have you believe.
- Use glass and ceramic cooking dishes because they can cook your food at a lower temperature in the same amount of time than other types of cookware.
While there is a lot here to consider, just start by taking small steps towards an energy-efficient kitchen. Begin by modifying daily behaviors until you’ve saved up for an Energy Star appliance. Every little change is one step closer to greener living (and cooking)!
This article was written by Nina Gass for MyMove.com, an online resource for moving information, products and coupons.