As we move into what is undoubtedly an era of ecological responsibility, the importance of a sustainable lifestyle for all is more apparent than ever before. Everyone has a part to play in making our planet greener and what we do in our home is the perfect place to start. The kitchen is where we store food, prepare meals and sit around in a communal fashion. But it’s also a place where some of the most energy-consuming appliances in our home can be found. To help you make sustainable choices when you’re planning to alter your kitchen, consider the following:
One of the most prominent and effective ways to reduce your kitchen’s energy consumption is by opting for energy-efficient appliances. If you’re using older white goods the chances are they won’t be energy efficient – or at least nowhere near as energy efficient as the newer models around.
Your refrigerator, for instance, consumes around 12 per cent of your household’s energy bill. While there haven’t necessarily been any new breakthroughs in refrigerator design, they are becoming more energy efficient. To the extent that within the past two decades, a refrigerator’s energy usage has been cut by more than 50 per cent – despite the average model increasing capacity by around 20 per cent.
If you are considering investing in a new refrigerator, then it’s not a bad idea to invest in a new R600a model. Its global warming potential is nearly 500 times lower than the next model down – the R134a. The latter was introduced in the mid-1990s as a replacement for the ozone-depleting R-12, but it still has a relatively high level of greenhouse gas emissions.
The heart of your kitchen, your cooker, is another area where upgrading can do a whole lot of good for the planet. Recent technological developments have included infrared cooktops which only switch on when there is a pan there to heat. They also have better heat distribution all around.
While gas and electric cookers use up to 70 per cent of the heat generated, induction and infrared cooktops use up to 90 per cent. Infrared cooktops have the edge over induction cookers because they tend to be compatible with all types of cookware materials, whereas with induction cookers, you can’t use aluminium, copper or glass pans.
But, of course, it’s not just the cooktop that uses up energy when we’re making a meal. The oven is also a big energy guzzler. To this end, convection ovens are the greenest option. They use 20 per cent less energy than standard ovens, thanks to a powerful fan and exhaust system which circulates hot air around the oven. The result is faster and more efficient cooking.
Contemporary 5-in-1 ovens which act as convection ovens, toasters, warming ovens, precision cook ovens and a microwave, are another brilliant invention, saving you on energy consumption as well as space. Their high-intensity halogen lighting technology, combined with microwave technology speed cooks food four times faster than a regular oven. Nor do they require any preheating – saving you time as well as energy.
When it comes to windows, the type of glass you choose is extremely important. According to the experts, a huge 70 per cent of the energy loss in our home is via our windows and doors. And, when it comes to windows, 90 per cent of the loss is through the glass itself.
Low-E, or low-emissivity glass, reduces the amount of infrared and ultraviolet radiation that enters your home without compromising on how much light enters. This makes the windows more thermally efficient by both stopping exterior heat from entering and preventing interior heat from transferring outside. The result is a steady temperature indoors.
The frames for your windows are also essential since the material used here impacts their insulation potential. Frames made from uPVC, wood and fibreglass will all prove to be efficient insulators.
Your kitchen is the room in which lighting is arguably most important. That’s because you need good lighting to safely prepare food, clean and wash up afterwards. A detailed lighting design that optimises natural light sources and uses LED bulbs will ensure that you have the most practical and energy-efficient lighting layout possible. LED lighting produces four times more luminosity than incandescent bulbs. They also use 90 per cent less energy and last up to 25 times longer. Spotlights and strip lighting are excellent contemporary lighting fixtures.
If you can, though, it’s a good idea to have as much natural lighting in the key areas of your kitchen as you can. This includes the seating area, kitchen work surface and cooktop. Why? Because you’re wasting no energy at all – and it’s better for you.
The above are just a few ideas. We’re sure if you do your research, though, you’ll find lots more ways to make your kitchen as green as possible.