If you’re looking to make your home more eco-friendly, a great place to start is in the kitchen. Going green can help improve your kitchen.
Not only is an updated kitchen one of the best home renovations to boost your resale value (with an estimated 78.4 percent return on investment), but improving your kitchen can also lead to a more efficient and green home. Here are eight ways to help your household go green in the kitchen.
1. Install windows and skylights
Whether you’re planning to stay in your home for the long run or you’re considering selling in the next few years, consider making the investment to add additional windows or skylights in your kitchen.
Not only will these light sources provide an appealing natural ambiance (with benefits that we’ll discuss next), they will also help clear vapors, pollutants, and toxins from the space where you make and enjoy your meals. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), reports that increasing the amount of outdoor air in your home is crucial to improving indoor air quality.
2. Make use of natural light
Whether you install windows or your home is already well-equipped with natural light sources, it’s time to optimize the light in your space. After all, there’s a reason homeowners and real estate professionals alike rave over the use of natural light. Not only can natural light help improve your mood, it can also help you go green in your kitchen.
To lessen the use of electricity in your home, relocate your favorite cutting boards, kitchen workspaces or dining table to be near a window or under a skylight. Then, you can turn off some or all of your lights to make use of the daylight in your kitchen while cooking or eating.
When it’s dark outside and you must use lighting, upgrade to compact fluorescent bulbs or LED lighting; each option is much more efficient than standard bulbs.
3. Utilize high-efficiency ventilation systems
While it’s preferred to use windows to circulate air, natural air isn’t a practical solution during extreme Minnesota and Wisconsin winters. When ventilation is necessary and open windows aren’t an option, consider using a higher-efficiency exhaust fan. Ideally, invest in a fan that offers different speed options.
For even more ventilation, choose a high-efficiency ceiling fan to help circulate air. In addition to using less energy, these fans are usually quieter than exhaust fans.
If you’re looking for a high-efficiency ventilation solution for your kitchen, check out Energy Star’s 2021 recommendations for the most efficient housing appliances.
4. Update your plumbing
It could be time to update your plumbing. Dated fixtures may use more water, whereas low flow models have gained popularity and are available for reasonable prices. When opting for more water-efficient faucets, remember that you’ll be saving yourself a bit of change (up to $35 annually) while also helping to protect the environment. Keep in mind, even a small faucet leak can waste up to 1,661 gallons of water in a year.
5. Purchase energy-conscious appliances
When making green updates in your kitchen, consider the lifespan of your home appliances. For example, refrigerators can account for nearly 15 percent of your home’s energy demand. And, most fridges function for an estimated 10 years. If you’re nearing the 10-year mark, it could be the moment to invest in a new, more eco-friendly refrigerator.
Compact and high-efficiency models are preferred. In fact, the Department of Energy indicates that fridges with top-mounted freezers use anywhere from 10 to 25 percent less energy than typical side-by-side or bottom-mount refrigerators.
Want to test the efficiency of your fridge? Try closing the fridge door over a piece of paper. If the paper can easily slide out, the seal may need to be adjusted or a new model may need to be purchased. See how much an energy-efficient fridge could save you with this Flip your Fridge Calculator.
6. Locally source kitchen amenities and appliances
While making changes to go green in the kitchen, try to source your updated eco-friendly supplies and high-efficiency fixtures locally. This helps support local businesses while also reducing the hidden environmental impact of shipping new products to your doorstep.
For other ways to limit your environmental impact as you elevate your space, consider:
7. Create a built-in waste station
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 42.8 million tons of food waste end up in landfills or combustion facilities every year. To create a greener kitchen and divert waste from landfills, consider sorting your kitchen waste and composting when possible. Green kitchen composting.
By creating a built-in waste station in your kitchen, separating your waste will become simpler than ever. Plus, these systems can be made to blend in your home (think of a pull-out waste drawer) or be stylish (find DIY options on Pinterest or search your local home improvement store for ready-to-go products). When separating your waste so it can be properly disposed of, be sure to create three separate containers for the following: