Your Environmentally Friendly Kitchen
Oftentimes the kitchen is the room in the house where the most energy is consumed-as a matter of fact, the U.S. Department of Energy has found that lighting, refrigeration and cooking are responsible for a whopping 50% of a home's total energy consumption. When you add on to that the energy consumed by a dishwasher and washing machine, your energy usage goes even higher. There are many different ways you can help the environment and save energy-thus energy bills-in your kitchen. Consider using environmentally friendly cleaning products or biodegradable trash can liners if you are only ready to take a small step in push to save our environment. These changes are easily accomplished, you will notice little difference, yet you can feel good in knowing that in some small way you are helping our planet. Once you are fully committed, there are many more things you can do to make your kitchen warm, cozy, functional and environmentally friendly all in one.
Energy Saving With Your Large Kitchen Appliances
Many companies now produce eco-friendly kitchen appliances; some of these appliances even work in tandem with one another to achieve maximum energy conservation. For instance some of these appliances use their own water and heat to fuel other appliances. The heat from your refrigerator's compressor could be providing hot water for your kitchen, saving you a potential 25% on heating bills as well as conserving energy. Many of the newer dishwashers use considerably less water than their older counterparts while eliminating the need to rinse your dishes before putting them into the dishwasher. If you are in the market for a new dishwasher, make sure it has the Energy Star stamp of approval, choose the most compact model possible, and only run it when it's full. While we all know what a drag preheating the oven can be, many of the newer ones have eliminated the need to preheat altogether. Additionally, try to plan ahead and cook more than one dish whenever you are cooking-you can always freeze the leftovers and microwave later for a quick, nutritious meal.
Which Models Should I Choose?
As noted, refrigerators are the second largest users of energy in your home, following closely behind your heating and cooling unit. If it's time to replace your older refrigerator, make sure the new one comes with the Energy Star label, designating it as an appliance which uses from 10-50% less energy than standard models, and only buy the size you really need instead of going for the biggest one in the showroom. Consider induction cooking which uses electricity to produce a magnetic field which reacts to ferric content in stainless steel, cast iron or enameled steel cookware. This process works by "exciting" the molecules and producing heat, allowing the food to get hot, but not the stove-top itself, and wasting less heat while heating your food more quickly. Induction cooking can be as much as 90% energy efficient compared to gas and electric which are only 50-60% efficient. If you are in the market for a new washing machine, make sure to buy a new water-efficient model, cutting your emissions nearly in half.
If your kitchen is in for a total overhaul, consider stained concrete or indigenous stone kitchen counter-tops which make use of non-toxic natural pigments. Install a kitchen recycling center which will more easily allow you to separate paper, food, bottles and plastics, and always go for energy efficient task lighting rather than a single large overhead light. Flooring products which are manufactured from renewable forests offer durable, affordable, yet totally beautiful floors for your kitchen. Bamboo, cork and eucalyptus all mature in half the time it takes for hardwoods, making them a responsible choice. There are many, many changes you can make in your kitchen, from the very large to the small, which all go a long way to helping our fragile planet.