Spring is in the air, and it got me to thinking about all the “spring cleaning” projects I would like to do around my house this year. There is such a popularity demand right now on green household products, so I did a little research to find out ways to spruce up a kitchen with more than just a fresh bouquet of flowers. There is a green product out there for just about everything you can imagine, so below are a few of the big ticket items that will really help you get things going.
Windows do so much more than just let the light in. They are also a great way to control your heating and cooling expenses. Installing sky lights is a trend that has made its way back into the kitchen. They allow tons of natural light in, and they are a great source of warmth, so this in itself could potentially cut down the electric bill, depending on the type you install. Venting skylights are also available, which expel hot air and improve circulation, and they also come with remote control blinds. Energy Star has introduced a line of windows and skylights that can minimize energy cost by up to 15 percent. This in effect protects the environment by reducing gas emissions from power plants.
According to the U.S. government’s Energy Star program, approximately 13 percent of the average U.S. household’s energy budget goes toward powering appliances. Refrigerators are typically the biggest contributor. Compared to a refrigerator built before 1990, a new one can save about $96 – $120 per year in electricity costs. Not far behind is our friend the dishwasher. Most of the energy used by dishwashers goes toward heating the water. Over the past 10 years or so, manufacturers have found ways to heat the water more efficiently, and reduce the amount of water used. Reducing water consumption also helps protect our lakes, streams and oceans.
Even kitchen cabinets have entered the world of “green.” If you are in the market to buy new kitchen cabinets,look for the ESP seal or GreenGuard certification, which lets you know that those manufacturers have followed set standards and passed rigorous qualifications in order to be considered eco-friendly.
If you’re researching more alternatives for your kitchen cabinets, there are other options as well. Bamboo can be a great alternative, and gives a very unique touch. It is a grass that looks like wood, and bamboo grows rapidly making it a more sustainable product. Another great option is to use second-hand cabinets, or recycled wood. Just make sure to put on a water based sealant, or find one with a low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) finishing treatment. VOC is the solvent found in most thinners and paints which carry different levels of toxicity.
There are many paths you can choose when creating an Eco-friendly Kitchen. The important thing is not where you begin, but just that you do begin. You can start out small and do a little at a time, remembering that each change you make may help reduce our carbon foot print on this Earth.