The kitchen accounts for much of a home's energy use as it typically houses a number of big, electricity sucking appliances, making them prime targets for green upgrades. According to a recent poll conducted by Houzz, more than half of the respondents (52 percent) ranked upgrading to Energy Star appliances as the number one change they'd make to have a more environmentally friendly kitchen. Starting a compost bin, recycling and installing a trash station was the second most popular choice (28 percent).
Since refrigerators consume a large amount of energy, homeowners should consider the following tips:
- Consider the amount of space the family requires to store food. Refrigerators use far less energy when the refrigerator is properly stored with food. Too much or too little space causes the refrigerator to work overtime.
- Look for models without ice makers and in-door water and ice dispensers. Studies suggest that these features can each increase overall refrigerator energy consumption by 10 to 15 percent.
- Consider relocating the refrigerator away from heat sources, such as ovens, which can cause them to work harder. Also, allow foods to cool before placing inside the refrigerator as the fridge will have to work less hard to cool them down.
Waste-reducer and Houzz community member Samantha Barton-Rundell has taken steps, like the 28 percent of poll respondents said they would do, to recycle, compost and create a trash station in her home.
"Taking simple environmental steps encourage my family to pitch in and help," said Barton-Rundell. "Not to mention, recycling, creating compost bins and trash stations are inexpensive endeavors, but can make a big impact on the environment."
- Set up a compost pot by the kitchen sink for eggshells, banana peels and other food remains.
- Research composting programs where compost waste is collected and used in community gardens.
"It's also important for homeowners to evaluate the use of their ovens, as they are inherently inefficient," Jeresk said. "Only six percent of the energy from a typical oven is absorbed by the food."
"Another big energy suck is the dishwasher," Jeresk said. "What many homeowners don't realize is that there are several simple and effective ways to save energy without getting dishpan hands."
Jeresk offers the following smart dishwasher energy saving tips:
- Scrape food off dishes instead of rinsing them. This simple switch can save up to 20 gallons of water.
- If dirty dishes need to sit overnight, use the dishwasher's rinse feature, which uses a fraction of the water needed to hand rinse.
- Consider running the light or energy-saving wash cycles for dishes that aren't too dirty. These cycles use less water and operate for a shorter period of time.
- Opt for no-heat drying, as the drying cycle consumes a lot of energy. Simply crack the door after the wash cycle is done to let the dishes air dry.
"While major appliances are generally the energy wasting culprits in a home, there are other parts of the kitchen where you can be lighter on the environment with little effort," said Jeresk. "Homeowners should also consider using cloth towels instead of paper towels, water filters instead of water bottles, buying in bulk, switching to nontoxic cleaners and seeking out local, organic foods."