Few things completely transform the ambiance of your home like a kitchen update. And if you want to be your home to be greener, i.e. more sustainable or eco-friendly, the kitchen is the ideal place to start. Below are a few tips on how to make sure your newly remodeled kitchen will be both stylish and sustainable.
All of us know what a freshly-painted room smells like. Unfortunately, it turns out that this smell is not as harmless as you may think. Conventional paint contains VOCs or Volatile Organic Compounds that are harmful to your health. These vapors are not just released while the paint is wet – they continue being released long afterward. Short-term side effects include nausea, headaches, finding it difficult to breathe, etc. And according to recent research, long-term side effects could include cancer.
The solution is simple: Insist that your remodeling contractor use VOC-free paints when refurbishing your kitchen.
2. Use Recycled Materials For Your New Countertops
Replacing your old countertops provides a great opportunity to make your remodeled kitchen more sustainable. You can, for example, use reclaimed wood or recycled glass. These materials do not need toxic sealants, they are non-porous, require zero maintenance, and will last nearly forever without chipping or cracking. Another option is quarts. It’s a natural material that lasts very long – and when the time comes you can recycle it.
3. Reface Your Kitchen Cabinets Instead of Replacing Them
If you are considering updating your kitchen cabinets, remember that refacing them will be a much more sustainable option than completely replacing them. Not only will this produce less waste going to the nearest landfill, but it will also be much cheaper. When refacing the cabinets, ask your remodeling contractor to use formaldehyde-free or recycled wood to make your carbon footprint as small as possible.
4. Opt For Sustainable Flooring
There are nowadays many sustainable flooring alternatives available, including reclaimed wood planks. Other options are bamboo, eco-friendly cork, and recycled tiles. The new generation of ‘green’ flooring manufacturers are particularly adept at blending style with sustainability, so there’s no reason to be scared that you will have to compromise on beauty and style.
5. Invest In Energy-Efficient Windows
Beautiful, large windows will make your kitchen an even more pleasant place in which to prepare meals and gather with the family. Make sure you select top-quality energy-efficient windows that will help reduce heat escaping from your home into the great outdoors. Replacing your current windows with ones that come with an Energy Star certification has been shown to reduce energy bills by up to 12%.
When it comes to choosing new lighting for your remodeled kitchen, natural lighting is always the best option. Wherever possible, try to use tubular daylighting systems or skylights. And when artificial lighting can not be avoided, always use LEDs instead of conventional incandescents. Not only are these more energy-efficient, they last much longer and come in a variety of different colors.
7. Make Sure To Choose Water-efficient Faucets
You can dramatically cut down your water usage by having eco-friendly faucets installed during your next kitchen upgrade. Low-flow faucets, for example, save water without noticeably impacting water pressure. Another great idea is to have touch-less faucets installed. These have sensors that help save water by automatically shutting off the water supply when it’s no longer needed.
8. Select Energy-Efficient Appliances
Last but not least, kitchen appliances are typically responsible for around 10% or more of a home’s electricity consumption. By opting for energy-efficient appliances next time, you will both save money and help to reduce power plant emissions. Few people, for example, know that modern convection ovens and induction range tops are more energy-efficient than their gas-based counterparts.