In many homes the kitchen is a central hub – a place for projects, entertaining, and of course, cooking and eating. Because you spend so much time in this room, you want it to be as comfortable and efficient as possible. Armed with these tips, you can make a few changes or invest in bigger upgrades to reduce energy and waste while you save money and make your kitchen a greener kitchen.
Instead of using the full size oven to heat up something, consider using a slow cooker, toaster oven, or even a counter top convection oven – a number of these are large enough to bake a pizza. In warmer months, if you don’t use the oven, you won’t heat up the kitchen, and you’ll end up not having to crank up the air conditioning, saving both money and energy.
Put a lid on it: your food will cook faster if you put a lid on your pot or pan – keeping in heat and energy. Research the pros and cons of gas vs. electric stoves – gas gives you more control, and is an immediate, heat source; electric may be more energy efficient. Whatever you choose, make sure you match the flame and burner to the size of your pan.
Use a dishwasher:
Did you know that using an energy efficient dishwasher uses less water than washing dishes by hand? Best bet for a greener kitchen: wait to run a full load of dishes – you’ll use less water than running two loads half full.
Compost your kitchen scraps
If you cringe at the thought of composting, consider this: in some towns and cities, food waste can make up nearly 20% of landfill space, so why not use this natural waste to enrich the soil? If you don’t want to have a compost area on your property, check with your neighbors or your local farmer’s market. And if you can find a gardener or farmer who will take it to enrich his or her crops, you’ll help the food cycle come full circle.
Tip: collect your food scraps in an empty orange juice carton or a large yogurt container, and keep them in the freezer or fridge to keep any smell at bay.
Be a (Energy) star
For that matter, if you’re replacing or upgrading appliances, do your homework: About 80% of appliances on the market have the federal Energy Star designation, which means it meets government guidelines for energy efficiency.
Keep one or two reusable shopping bags in your car, your work tote, and in your gym bag – that way, you’ll have them handy when you make a last minute stop at the store – and you can feel good saying “no thanks” when you’re asked: “Paper or Plastic?” If you do have to take store bags, bring them back next time and use them again.
When you shop for food, buy local if you can – you’ll support your local farmers and economy, plus imported food has a significant carbon footprint because of transport over long distances. Buy in bulk when you can, to reduce food packaging waste. Another greener kitchen tip – filter your tap water instead of buying individual water bottles.
Reuse for your remodel
Renovating? Before you tear out all the cabinets, consider repainting or re-facing your cabinets. You’ll have less construction waste, and it’s more economical then installing brand new cabinets. You’ll save money and keep these materials out of a landfill or a dump. When you switch out your old stuff, offer it up online through a marketplace.
Can’t find what you want on the resale market? Consider green materials for countertops, like compressed paper, terrazzo made from recycled glass and ceramic mixed with concrete.
Shine a light
Light colors in your kitchen will brighten the room and reflect natural light if you open the curtains to let natural sunlight in. Finally, replace incandescent bulbs and fixtures with energy-efficient lighting.