Doing your bit for the environment when you plan your kitchen need not be as difficult as you might think. Some people imagine expensive recycled or reclaimed materials and a return to the days of washing up by hand – but in fact, the key to an environmentally friendly kitchen can be energy efficiency, ease of cleaning and durability.
It is estimated that the average kitchen accounts for between 20-40% of a home’s total energy bill, and so careful choice of appliances and considered lighting can reduce environmental damage as well as cutting your monthly bills!
Your kitchen should include ‘A’ energy rated appliances. More and more of the latest energy saving models from the world’s leading brand appliance manufacturers are built into todays kitchens. They needn’t cost the earth and quickly pay for themselves.
Freezers in particular use a lot of energy, but modern freezer/refrigerator units are more energy efficient than side-by-side models, particularly if the freezer compartment is below the fridge, and use only a third of the energy your older appliance might consume.
Ovens too play an important role in saving energy and reducing contribution to climate change. The best environmental option is a fan oven, which cooks 25% faster than a conventional oven.
Another important area is kitchen work surfaces, the hardest working surfaces in your home and another opportunity to ‘go green’ – not only in terms of the material from which the actual surfaces are made, but also in their durability and ease of cleaning; the fewer harsh, unfriendly chemicals required to clean your new kitchen, the ‘greener’ your home will be and the less often the surfaces need to be changed, the lower the environmental impact.
Environmentally focused kitchen companies offer a wide range of alternatives for your worksurfaces – natural materials sourced responsibly, such as wood, marble, granite or glass look stunning and retain their beauty for many years when properly cared for, whilst man-made alternatives such as Corian are manufactured in an environmentally responsible way and can be used to create seamless, easy to clean surfaces. Repairable and renewable, long lasting good looks are assured.
When considering flooring and tiling, similar considerations come into play and increasingly designers are proposing materials such as bamboo and cork, as well as more traditional wood and stone. Cork, which has a natural resilience and warmth, is a renewable resource made from tree bark. It is also sound-absorbing, hypoallergenic and resistant to mould and mildew, making it an excellent choice for kitchens. Bamboo, which is fast growing and rapidly renewable, is surprisingly tougher than most hard woods. Durable and easy to clean, it makes great cutting boards and can be used for both back splash tiling and flooring.
Even your finishing touches, such as curtains or chair cushions can also contribute to an environmentally friendly kitchen. Natural cotton or wool is much kinder to the environment than man-made fabrics that have been manufactured using chemicals.
Going green in a practical way means taking a holistic approach, looking at the life cycle of various products as well as their origin, and in the long run a higher purchase price can mean a better deal. You can actually reduce the cost of living in your home by choosing environmentally friendly, resource efficient products and materials, and by specifying a kitchen that is built to perform and to look good for many years to come. Focus on long-term savings – both financial and environmental – rather than on initial price. When working with kitchen companies who take the time to establish your needs as well as the environments we believe that in both senses, a beautiful new, well-designed and carefully thought out kitchen need not cost the earth!
This article was provided by Lawrence Christie of Intoto Kitchens.