Whether you’re thinking about making a few small changes or making a complete redesign, creating an eco-friendly kitchen is a smart project to undertake. A sustainable kitchen not only reduces your energy and water consumption, but also helps cut costs in eco-friendly houses. Learn about some of the most effective changes you can make to an existing kitchen and discover how far you can take your kitchen renovation ideas with a full remodel.
Choose Eco-Friendly Appliances and Accessories for Minor Renovations
Small remodeling projects can change your kitchen in a big way, as long as you know where to focus your energy and funds. Stretch a small budget by investing in energy-efficient appliances or concentrate on furnishing your kitchen with more eco-friendly furniture.
If you have limited capacity for renovations, consider replacing outdated appliances with Energy Star-certified appliances. Eco-friendly appliances might cost more than standard versions up-front, but you’ll gradually earn your investment back as your utility bills decrease. Kitchen appliances use more than 15 percent of your entire household energy consumption, an amount that you can reduce by introducing some of the most eco-friendly Energy Star appliances.
- Refrigerators: Appliances that meet Energy Star standards have the newest insulation and compressor technology, making these refrigerators about 10 percent more efficient than older models. Recycle a refrigerator that’s 10 or more years old, replace it with an Energy Star model, and save up to $300 on utility costs over the course of the appliance’s lifespan.
- Freezers: Like refrigerators, Energy Star-certified freezers are also about 10 percent more efficient than outdated models. Choose a freezer that’s sized appropriately for your household’s needs to make sure you’re not wasting extra energy or costs on an oversized appliance.
- Dishwashers: Appliances that are more than 20 years old waste more than 10 gallons of water during each cycle, and over the course of a year, they can waste thousands of gallons. Energy Star-certified dishwashers save both water and energy with each cycle, and many models have advanced features, such as food sensors and water filtration, to further enhance the cleaning process.
Purchasing new tables and chairs will give your kitchen an instant facelift, but consider your options carefully. Not all furniture is environmentally friendly, and some particularly toxic options can release volatile organic compounds, VOCs, that add to indoor air pollution. If you have room in your budget, shop for eco-friendly furniture from a company you trust.
Alternatively, consider recycling existing furniture or purchasing a kitchen table and chairs second-hand. Give your kitchen renovation a personal touch by painting or staining the furniture with low-VOC paint that won’t harm your home’s indoor air quality.
Go Green With a Full Kitchen Remodel
Small projects can give your kitchen a much-needed update, but a full remodel can bring about some dramatic changes to your home. You can make your remodel as environmentally friendly as possible by focusing on a few key green kitchen renovation options, such as lighting design, water consumption, and indoor composting.
Eco-Friendly Kitchen Sinks and Faucets
Whether you’re looking for bathroom remodeling ideas or eco-friendly kitchen renovation options, the sink is often the best place to start. Consider repurposing an old sink and installing some extra components to curb your household’s water usage.
- Low-Flow Faucets: If you haven’t replaced your faucet in several years, you might be accustomed to using excessive amounts of water each time you wash the dishes or rinse fresh produce. Recycle your old high-flow device and replace it with a WaterSense-labeled faucet. These faucets use no more than 1 1/2 gallons of water per minute, which can save you up to 700 gallons of water over the course of the year.
- Water Purifiers: If you have concerns about contaminants in your tap water or you dislike the taste of water coming direct from your faucet, you don’t need to waste money or fossil fuels on consuming bottled water. Instead of relying on bottled water to keep hydrated, install a water filter or purifier in your kitchen faucet. Be sure to identify any potential contaminants or concerns and buy the water filter that will work best for your family. Enjoy clean water direct from the tap and skip the disposable bottles.
Inviting natural light indoors might be the easiest way to cut down on energy usage, but you can follow several other effective techniques to illuminate your kitchen. As you map out the lighting in your nature-friendly kitchen, consider the number and type of lightbulbs you use, along with the lighting style.
- LED Lights: Do your utility bill a favor and replace any incandescent bulbs in your kitchen with highly efficient LED lightbulbs. Choose an Energy Star-certified bulb, and you can save up to 90 percent more energy than you would with incandescent bulbs.
- Dimmer Switches: Turning the lights on full power isn’t always necessary, but standard lights don’t give you the option to turn on the lights only halfway. Install dimmer switches and save nearly 50 percent on your energy consumption when you dim the lights.
- Multiple Zones: If only certain parts of your kitchen need full illumination, consider setting up multiple lighting zones throughout the space. You’ll have to turn on the lights only where you need them the most, a practice which can help save energy.
Garbage disposals are convenient, but they aren’t particularly eco-friendly appliances. If you rely on a disposal to deal with food waste, consider introducing indoor composting into your food preparation routine. Not only will you save water and energy, but composting also generates soil that you can use to nurture food, plants, and flowers.
Get started with indoor composting by designating a spot for your composter, preferably under the sink or in an underused closet or cabinet. Next, make an indoor composter by selecting two small plastic garbage cans of different sizes. Drill holes in the bottom of the smaller can and place the smaller can inside the larger one. Use a brick to elevate the smaller can a few inches off the floor.
Once you’ve set up your composter, make a point to add organic food waste to it as often as possible. Try to balance one part food scraps and coffee grounds to two parts paper shreds and sawdust, and stir the mixture about once a day. Not only will this stirring help limit odors, but it will also help the compost progress. Once the materials have completely broken down, you can use the fresh compost as fertilizer in indoor or outdoor gardens.
Design a Sustainable Kitchen From the Beginning
When you build an eco-friendly kitchen from design ideas you have, the possibilities are limitless. From eco-friendly cabinets to sustainable flooring, you can design an environmentally friendly kitchen from scratch to significantly minimize your carbon footprint.
Traditional countertops made from wood or granite might look nice, but these surfaces need unsustainable amounts of energy to produce them and don’t last as long as other options. Instead of installing a run-of-the-mill surface, go for an environmentally friendly material. Choose from eco-friendly countertops made with recycled glass, reclaimed cement, recycled paper, renewable bamboo, and nontoxic binding agents.
When you’re designing the flooring in your kitchen, forget about traditional materials like hardwood or freshly cut tiles. Instead, concentrate on eco-friendly products, such as cork and linoleum. As a fast-growing material, cork is one of the most sustainable flooring options and is comfortable to walk on. Linoleum comes from renewable materials and doesn’t release harmful chemicals after installation. Both materials will make your new kitchen look great without endangering the environment.
Repurposed Wall Tiles
Backsplashes add a touch of color and texture to your kitchen, and these custom design elements are an attractive way to introduce materials such as repurposed wall tiles into your environmentally friendly kitchen. Opt for ceramic tiles with bold designs or glass tiles with colorful iridescence, plus use a low-VOC grout.
As one of the most important components in your kitchen, cabinets hold your dishes, store your appliances, and show off your antique stemware. Since most cabinets are wood, understanding where your cabinets come from and how they’re made is important. For the best green kitchen cabinets and drawers, look for products certified as sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council and seek cabinets made without harmful VOCs. Many products made with formaldehyde-free straw board, for instance, will enhance any eco-friendly kitchen.
No matter if you’re starting small with new energy-efficient appliances or performing a total remodel with all-new sustainable materials, an environmentally friendly kitchen is within your reach. Get a head start on the design process with these eco-friendly tips to help you develop a customized kitchen that’s both sustainable and inspirational.
If you have any questions about how to make your kitchen more environmentally friendly, let us know in the comments section below.