When we think of making our homes more energy efficient, the kitchen is a great place to start. After all, it holds a number of the home’s appliances including the refrigerator, stove and microwave.
Even if you don’t use your kitchen as much as some other households do, this room is still one that uses a lot of energy and greener methods will not only be more earth-friendly, they will make a significant dent in your utility bills.
Keeping that in mind, here are some great ways to make your new kitchen more energy efficient.
Use Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
This is really a great tip for all over the house but can be especially useful in the kitchen where lighting is essential. It is likely that your kitchen contains several light sockets which will fit recessed lighting, overhead additional lighting and under-cabinet lighting.
Be sure to consider all bulbs when switching to more energy efficient lighting.
The most energy efficient lighting will be a CFL or an LED. CFLs are miniature versions of full-sized fluorescents. They screw into standard lamp sockets and give off light that looks similar to common incandescent bulbs as opposed to the fluorescent lighting we might find in factories and schools.
LEDs are small, efficient solid bulbs. They are traditionally used in the home, but advances in technology are broadening their range in useful applications. Though more expensive than CFLs, LEDs bring more value since they last longer.
Check Your Appliances
To be sure you are making your kitchen as energy efficient as possible, make sure you are using the greenest appliances. Here are some basic guidelines to follow when choosing your appliances:
Although buying an Energy Star appliance is always the best way to make sure you are buying the most energy efficient appliance possible, unfortunately, stoves are not Energy Star rated. However, there are other ways you can make sure your stove is not using an abundance of energy.
Stoves can include a number of features including six or more burners, a warmer, grill, non-stick griddle and radiant/induction heat as well as optional back panels. It is important to choose a stove that suits your needs without any extras as these will tend to use more energy.
You should also consider what type of stove you want to use. Gas stoves will use less energy but must be used with a vent hood to remove carbon monoxide and other pollutants. And the vent hood works by electricity.
There are also different types of gas burners. Those with electronic ignitions are the most energy efficient and eliminate low-level pollutants from pilot lights.
If you opt for an electric stove, those with induction elements use about half the energy of typical electric stoves. Hybrid stoves offer both radiant heat and induction heating which is safer, easier to use and more energy efficient.
Another energy-saving option is the convection stove. These circulate hot air, reducing cook time without requiring preheating. They can save 20% of energy compared to conventional ovens.
Here are some other energy saving tips you might consider when using your oven:
- Bake foods together if possible.
- Limit preheat time.
- Avoid losing valuable heat by keeping the oven door closed as much as possible while cooking.
- Cover pots and pans while cooking to keep heat in.
- Use pots and pans that are an appropriate size. Oversized pots and pans will require more heat to cook food.
- Use glass or ceramic dishes. These allow food to cook faster and you can even turn the stove down by several degrees when using them, which will end up conserving energy.
Finding the right refrigerator will be an easier task since many models are available with Energy Star ratings. If you have an older fridge, investing in a new one could be a money saving option that will also be beneficial to the environment as well.
Newer refrigerators use less energy so they reduce greenhouse gas emissions equaling up to over 4 billion kilograms each year. That’s the equivalent of the emissions from more than 870,000 vehicles.
Here are some other considerations to be made when buying your new refrigerator:
- Consider buying a refrigerator with a top-mounted freezer. These use less energy than a 60-watt light bulb.
- Buy an appropriately-sized refrigerator. The larger the refrigerator, the greater the energy consumption. The most energy efficient models are typically 450-500 l.
Once you find the right fridge, here are some guidelines to follow to save the optimal amount of energy:
- Set the refrigerator to the appropriate temperature. This will be between 2-4 degrees C.
- Place your refrigerator in a cool place. Don’t put it near a heat source like an oven or dishwasher - and keep it out of direct sunlight.
- Allow circulation behind the fridge by keeping a few inches between the refrigerator and the wall. Keep the condenser coils clean if you have an older model.
- Check the door seals to make sure they are airtight and not allowing any cool air to escape.
- Minimize the amount of time the door is kept open.
Buying an energy efficient dishwasher is also a big part of saving energy in your new kitchen. Luckily there are Energy Star dishwashers available. These use advanced technology to get your dishes clean while using less water.
Using an Energy Star dishwasher can save 14,5 thousand litres of water over its lifetime.
Because it uses less energy than conventional models, it can reduce air pollution, combating global climate change. Because it saves on water use, it helps to protect our lakes, streams and oceans.
Energy Star dishwashers also include a number of features that make them more efficient, which also helps to cut down on the amount of water and energy they use.
Here are some energy efficient features:
- Soil sensors can test how dirty dishes are throughout the wash automatically adjusting the amount of water used, thus offering optimum cleaning with minimum water and energy use.
- Improved water filtration removes food soils from the wash water so that a minimum amount of water and detergent are needed.
- The jets use less energy, spraying detergent and water over dishes while they are being cleaned.
- The innovative rack designs maximize cleaning by strategically situating dishes.
Make sure you are using your dishwasher in the most efficient way possible by following these guidelines:
- Check your dishwasher regularly to make sure there are no leaks.
- Try to do full loads of dishes whenever possible.
- Scrape food from dishes to make sure the dishwasher is using as little energy as possible to get cleaning done.
A microwave is another product that it is not available with an Energy Star rating. This may be due to the fact that a microwave does not use a lot of energy to begin with. For this reason, it is usually a more energy efficient way to heat up food as compared to a conventional oven.
Here are some other things to note when looking for a microwave for your new kitchen:
- You won’t discover much of a difference in energy efficiency when comparing different models of microwave ovens.
- The amount of energy used by a microwave oven is relatively small so any tricks you can think of to save energy when using your microwave won’t do much good.
Other Tips For Your Energy Efficient Kitchen
Here are some other general tips that may help you to save energy in your kitchen:
- Unplug appliances when not in use.
Most people have a couple of appliances in their kitchens that they don’t use that often. This could be a toaster oven, coffee machine or blender.
It is a good idea to keep these appliances unplugged when they are not in use. Even though they are not turned on, they can still be using energy.
- Install low flow taps.
Low-flow taps are fairly easy to install and in many locations your energy company may even come out and do the installation for you. If your kitchen already has low-flow taps, find out what else you can do to start saving water in your home.
If you are getting a new kitchen in your home or moving into a new home that requires a kitchen remodel, you probably have a lot on your mind.
However, creating an eco-friendly kitchen should be a priority as it will be a money-saving step in the long run.
Be sure to buy energy-saving appliances and follow simple guidelines to do all you can to save money and the environment.
You won’t regret it!
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