Thursday, February 08, 2007

green your kitchen

The kitchen is the largest energy drain in your home as well as being the heart of the home and definately the portion remodeled the most. When you undertake new construction or a remodel, the kitchen presents a large opportunity to improve on the home's energy performance. If you study up on alternative building materials that have ecological benefits, you can create a well-designed, attractive kitchen that gives improved occupant health as well as becoming a more affordable and comfortable place.

41.5 percent of a home's energy consumption is drained through refrigeration, cooking in the kitchen, also accounting for 80% of the lighting energy consumption, much of the heating of water, and also factor in temperature heating and cooling of the space.

Simple everyday tips to incorporate are:

Eliminate paper towels and paper napkins, using an eco fiber cloth instead. Pack lunches in reusable containers instead of plastic and paper bags. Use 100% recycled aluminum foil, biodegradable compostable, GM free corn starch bags, trash bags made from potato starch or recycled polythene. Incorporate a kitchen recycling center, an area or just a bin with many slots for separating paperboard, containers and trash.

For a remodel, follow these tips to make your kitchen more green:

1.Energy Efficient Appliances:
The refrigerator is one of the home's highest consumers of energy. Utility providers in select states offer rebates for homeowners who purchase models that exceed the minimum standard. Looking for the Energy Star sticker when shopping for appliances. After they are installed, use the water and energy-saving settings on your kitchen's refrigerator and dishwasher too. The Asko dishwasher is far superior to any other, up to 84% more efficient than all other brands. For refrigerators, Amana is an energy saving brand. Also look for an induction cooktop, a more effective method of transferring heat to food. Also, if you are knocking down walls, make sure you use adequate eco wall insulation and Energy Star windows.

2. Lighting:
Energy efficient lighting can cut down vastly on your utility bill. Most standard fixtures are compatible with compact fluorescents (CFLs). CFLs can save 75% of the electricity that incandescents bulbs use. CFLs now come in cool and warm light and are available in a wider range of wattage. Initially the bulbs are more expensive, but they last eight times as long, their lifespan out weighing the cost. Designing a kitchen with natural lighting also cuts down on the need to use electricity, so place windows wisely.

3. Non Toxic Materials:
Many people have environmental allergies and chemical sensitivities, and that number is growing all the time. Using hypoallergenic building materials to remodel your kitchen can improve indoor air quality and reduce this problem. Low-toxicity or non toxicity finishes and surfaces are available, look for products that have water based adhesives and finishes without the synthetic formaldehyde resins.

A) Flooring:
Bamboo or cork flooring is durable, and a terrific insulator for both sound and heat. Concrete is another smart Green kitchen product. It does not give off harmful fumes because it doesn't contain glues or laminates. Concrete can be stained with pigments or enhanced by adding objects like gemstones, metal features, or fossilized shells into it.

B) Countertops:
Vertrazzo, Ice Stone and Enviro Glass are terrazzo countertops made from recycled glass and cast concrete. Recycled glass tiles from Bedrock Industries look stunning on backsplashes. Other options for counters are Rich Lite, a durable pressed plant material & concrete countertops by Cheng Designs.

C) Cabinetry:
Cabinets with ultra low VOC, water based adhesives and finishes are the green way. Try wheatboard cabinets, AlterECO bamboo cabinets, Plyboo, Laguna Bamboo cabinetry, and Henry Built a few of the many companies that are creating innovate eco materials into modern cabinetry. You might also try to use salvaged materials and repurposed them as they too have a low toxicity because their original finishes have had years to off gas. Try Re-Sources or search for a salvage yard in your area.

D) Paints:
Use paint with low-VOC or no-VOC (volatile organic compounds). Try Yolo Colorhouse paints, Safecoat Paints, BioShield Paints, or Old Fashioned Milk Paints.

E) Ventilation:
Proper ventilation will help maintain superior indoor air quality for your green remodel.

Good Luck! When starting a remodel search for green contractors, knowledgable about sustainable home building or educate yourself with the green options that meet your taste and budget. Try,
Building Green
Green Builder

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