These days it’s hard not to be mindful of sustainability. Gone are the days of denial, when we all pretended we could do whatever we wanted to the planet without consequence. As a society, we’re becoming more aware that the choices we make have the potential to have a long-term impact on the health of our planet. This is the driving force behind the eco-friendly kitchen trend. An eco-friendly home renovation sounds great, right? But you may be wondering just how you accomplish that. Here are some eco-friendly renovation tips for kitchen renovation.
1. Retain The Heat
An eco-friendly kitchen starts at the bones. Good insulation and energy-efficient windows (and possibly doors, if they’re there) can make a huge difference in just how sustainable your kitchen is. Not only will you save money on temperature control during both the summer and winter months, but less energy will be used on your home, decreasing your overall footprint.
2. The Appliances Matter
We’re lucky to have so many Energy Star products on the market these days. This makes it easy to find eco-friendly appliances that fall within any budget. Not only are these designed to be better for our environment, but they will also save you some money in the long run. But that’s not the only way that these eco-friendly appliances can save you money. There are some rebates offered by the government for choosing eco-products. Some research and the right appliances can save you some extra money on your purchase.
And while we’re talking appliances, you should be considering electric over gas in your kitchen. I know, I know, we’ve been told for years that if you want efficiency and the best control then gas is the way to go but it’s not true anymore. Modern ranges and ovens are now outperforming their gas counterparts. Having a gas range may look flashy, but if you’re looking for the best eco-friendly option, a modern energy star stovetop is the way to go.
3. Don’t Overlook Your Sink
In today’s market, there are even eco-friendly faucet options. It may take some research to find the right one, but they’re out there. Look for low-flow faucets or faucets with multi-flow options are among the better picks. Some brands, like Moen, have entire lines dedicated to eco-friendly faucets. Moen’s line claims to use 32% less water. Another way to enhance how eco-friendly your sink is by adding a water filter. If you’re opting for bottled over tap water, this is a great way to give you the peace of mind about the water you’re drinking, while significantly reducing the amount of plastic you’re using.
4. Some Alternative Light Options
Lighting is arguably one of the most important parts of any room and the kitchen is no exception. There are numerous eco-friendly options for lighting in your kitchen.
Capitalizing On Natural Light: There’s no better way to save money than using what you already get for free. Having big windows can not only open up the space, giving your kitchen a bigger feel but they make good use of natural light, which can help you save money on that electric bill, especially during the summer months.
LED Lighting: Opt for LED lights over traditional lightbulbs. Not only are these more energy efficient, saving you money on your monthly electric bill but they last significantly longer. LED lights can have a lifespan of up to 50,000 hours which is up to 50 times longer than your average incandescent, up to 25 times longer than halogen and up to 10 times longer than CFL. Do the math and see how long these lightbulbs would last in your kitchen. If you spent 8 hours a day with your kitchen lights on, the bulbs would last you up to 17 years. So not only do you save money because they’re more energy-efficient, you save money on all of the bulbs you won’t have to replace, as well as the time it takes to do that. The best part is that there’s less waste, making this a fantastic green option.
Installing A Dimmer Switch: The full power of our lightbulbs isn’t always necessary. Having the option to reduce the amount of light you use can be a great way to use less energy.
Separate Your Lighting: Having a single switch that controls every bulb in your kitchen can be convenient but it can also mean you’re using more energy than you need to be. If you have a few switches controlling the lights in different parts of your kitchen you can save money and energy but only having light in the part of the kitchen you need to use.
5. Pick A Timeless Design
All of your efforts to make your kitchen eco-friendly will be pretty much pointless if you decide your kitchen looks dated in a few years and rip it out to put something new in. Kitchen trends come and go and while that one really cool design may look great now, it may be something of a nightmare in a decade or two. Instead of jumping on the bandwagon with the hottest trend of this year, consider a design for your kitchen that is more timeless, one that has looked good throughout the decades. If you’re working with a designer they’ll be able to help steer you in the right direction.
6. Put Thought Into Your Countertops.
Countertops are arguably one of the more important design aspects of a kitchen renovation. You may be surprised to learn, but some countertops are more eco-friendly than others.
Pick A Countertop With A Long Lifespan: Everything in your kitchen will have a lifespan. If you pick a good quality material it will last longer. Replacing your countertops less often is a great step in an eco-friendly direction.
Consider Locally Sourced: Different types of stone come from different parts of the world. The further something has to travel to get to you, the larger its carbon footprint.
Remnants Of Material: There tends to be leftover granite (and other materials) when a project is over. A lot of granite stores have “granite remnants” from other projects. Not only are you reducing waste by using something like this, but it typically costs less than buying a complete slab of granite.
Repurposed Countertops: There are no countertops being made of all kinds of repurposed materials. Everything from recycled glass and porcelain down to paper and bamboo. These countertops can have colourful and interesting designs, making them a great statement piece as well as a truly eco-friendly option.
7. Cabinets Are No Exception
When it comes to cabinets, there are plenty of green options.
Reface or Refinish: Instead of replacing your cabinets with something brand new, you can make use of what you already have and improve them. Refacing is when you keep the actual cabinets and replace the doors, handles, etc. Refinishing is when you go in and change the finish or the colour of your cabinets. Both options will give your kitchen a new look while saving you money and reducing your footprint.
Refurbishing: If your own cabinets aren’t in good enough condition to reuse, someone else’s cabinets may be. If you look around online you can find used cabinets for sale. A lot of times they’re in good condition. You can even refinish or reface them.
Reduce the Amount of Wood: Glass cabinets are pretty stylish and a great way to cut back on how much wood you’re using in your kitchen. Open-faced cabinets or shelves are other methods you could use.
If New Is A Must, Opt For Sustainable: You can find new cabinets out there made of repurposed wood or crafted with wood, like bamboo, that quickly grows, making it a more sustainable material than a lot of traditional woods used in cabinets.
8. Even Your Floors Can Be Green
Floors are another area where you have plenty of eco-friendly options to work with. Like with countertops, you want to find a material that will stand the test of time so it won’t need to be replaced within a few years. You can get creative with recycled tiles or cork. You can find reclaimed wood. And if you can’t find anything else that quite suits your taste, bamboo is a great sustainable option. If you don’t love the colour, it can always be stained to look more like a wood you like better.
9. Beware Of Your Paints, Stains and Varnishes
No two chemicals are created equally and this is especially true with renovation materials. VOC, or volatile organic compounds are something you might find in different chemicals you use while renovating your home. They release gasses as they dry, making them questionable for both your health and the environment. Thankfully it’s not hard to track down VOC-free options.
10. Reclaimed Materials
There are a plethora of ways to use reclaimed materials throughout your kitchen. Light fixtures, drawer handles, tiles, cupboards. Not only will using reclaimed materials give your kitchen a one-of-a-kind appearance, but save you money and reduce your overall footprint.
11. Sell Or Donate
Don’t just trash the materials you take out of your kitchen. Sell or donate them so that they can be reused instead of going to rot in a landfill.
We’re lucky to live in a time where there are so many different ways you can implement eco-friendly renovation tips for the kitchen . It’s okay if you can’t implement a lot of them. None of us are perfect people and neither are our kitchens. Making an effort to make better choices is a great step in doing better by our planet.