Environmentally-friendly design has become an even hotter trend in 2019. Architects and designers are shrugging off old impressions that recycled materials or eco-conscious designs are boring. More homeowners want homes that take sustainability seriously. They want their houses to incorporate green materials and contribute to global conservation. Kitchens are a key area of focus for environmentally-friendly remodels. They’re the highest energy consumers in a house, so focusing on energy efficiency there has the greatest payoff. Separating plastics isn’t the only option for homeowners who want an eco-friendly kitchen. Read on for 5 great ways to give your kitchen an environmentally-friendly upgrade.
1. Energy Efficient Windows
Increasing natural light access into kitchens is a great place to start. Energy efficient windows are larger, and they brighten a room by simply letting in more light. The increase in natural light makes it so owners don’t have to turn on the lights as much. Lower energy bills mean more money stays in your pocket and your home has a smaller carbon footprint.
You also get to enjoy the great view outside as you make dinner. In 2021, houses look great with countertop to ceiling windows instead of more of the same tilework. Energy efficient windows also reduce the amount of heat lost through windows, which helps regulate temperate and save on heating bills. They’re a great noise insulator, which is great for homes in close proximity or next to highways.
2. Eco Friendly Countertops
Marble tops will never go out of style, but eco-friendly countertops have so many new, fresh options that everyone should consider them. More homeowners are opting for recycled marble, aluminum or even paper to build their countertops with because it can be a money saver that still looks great.
Recycled glass countertops are unique way to give a kitchen remodel a distinct look. Colorful glass pieces are mixed with cement and a resin base that make smooth mosaic countertops. The glass is environmentally-friendly because it typically comes from demolition projects that would otherwise discard it.
Another great eco-friendly option for countertops are recycled bamboo or some other type of wood installed as a chopping block. Chopping blocks are a portion of a countertop that’s used as a built-in durable cutting board. Bamboo’s a great choice because it grows so fast it’s a renewable resource.
All the cooking, cooling, freezing, cleaning, and mixing in a kitchen make it the highest energy-consuming room in the house. Appliances use a lot of energy, so upgrading to energy-efficient fridges, stoves, and dishwashers is a smart choice. Refrigerators alone account for up to 15 percent of a home’s total energy use. Luckily, the increasing popularity of low-energy appliances means that there are some great styles to select from too.
Energy-efficient refrigerators can beat government efficiency standards so owners know they’re making a difference. One thing that can really make an impact is not going with the biggest fridge possible. Using a refrigerator appropriate for a home’s need is the best way to reduce environmental impact. Side by side fridges use about 20 percent more electricity than up-down models.
Size also matters for ovens. Bigger ovens use more energy to heat up and cook food, so even though it may look nice, a large oven isn’t the eco-friendliest. The main consideration for choosing a range and oven is deciding between electric and gas. Generally, gas is less expensive and is the cleanest fossil fuel, but some people are nervous about cooking with gas. Just make sure you have a good exhaust installed as well. Electricity used to power electric stoves usually comes from burning coal, not the most environmentally-friendly item. Of course, if homeowners opt to power the stove with rooftop solar panels that’s a great workaround.
4. Find a Place for Cork
Cork flooring has become more popular in recent years, but it’s a good bet many homeowners still don’t know it’s an option. In 2019, more homes will be using cork floors in their kitchens as an environmentally-friendly alternative to tile and vinyl. Cork is great because it’s all-natural and renewable. It can be harvested around every eight years from the same tree.
Cork is extremely durable, even if something is dropped on the floor that makes a dent, it will self-repair over time. No liquid can get through its surface and the floors usually last around 40 years. It’s also extremely safe. Cork only melts at extremely high temperatures and, in the event of a fire, puts off much less toxins than other kinds of kitchen flooring. Finally, cork has a little bounce to it, so cork kitchen floors are comfortable and naturally reduce noise.
5. Recycled Fixtures
Somewhere along the line, reclaimed and recycled became synonymous with luxury. Decorating kitchen décor with recycled lighting fixtures, drawer handles, faucets and cabinetry really elevate kitchen décor, but it can also cost an arm and a leg. So many companies market items as reclaimed that it’s hard to discern whether it’s actually recycled.
Companies that really sell recycled fixtures should include, or be able to include, information about where the fixtures were purchased or repurposed. It’s important for many home owners to know that reclaimed lamp they bought was made in an eco-friendly manner. Of course, if you have the time, you can always DIY it. Thrift stores always have a variety of old furniture that can be dismantled and used for parts. Antique stores are another great place to look for reusable items. Putting in recycled fixtures helps a kitchen look unique, and not like something transferred straight from a furniture showroom.
Environmentally-friendly kitchen design is in. Homeowners love bringing their kitchens in line with their personal beliefs about conservation efforts. An eco-friendly kitchen reduces energy bills and helps homeowners feel good about helping the environment. Eco-friendly design choices are far from bland. As the eco-friendly décor trend progresses, more and more options are out there for architects, builders, and DIYers to choose from. Start with these five options to plan your kitchen’s environmentally-friendly upgrade today.