10 Ways to Make Your Kitchen More Resource Efficient
Install operable windows and skylights.
Windows and skylights are the most energy-efficient method of clearing vapors and indoor air toxins from your kitchen. With enough openings, placed for cross and stack ventilation, you can run your exhaust fan only to evacuate the heaviest cooking odors.
Use a high-efficiency ceiling fan.
A ceiling fan boosts natural ventilation by helping to move air through the space, and it uses less energy and is quieter than an exhaust fan.
Evacuate cooking fumes with a high-efficiency, variable-speed exhaust fan.
Check the Energy Star website for the most energy-efficient models. The variable-speed option lets you use the lowest effective setting, further reducing your energy demand.
Locate work surfaces near windows or skylights.
Daylight is the highest quality lighting, and it’s free! With work surfaces near windows or skylights, you won’t need to use artificial lighting during the day, so you’ll save energy. You’ll also have views and a connection to the outside.
Use high-efficiency compact fluorescent lights.
Many people associate fluorescent lights with early technologies that produced bad lighting. But technologies have improved dramatically, and compact fluorescent lighting is about four to five times more efficient than incandescent lighting. For a high-quality experience, choose lights with a color rendering index of 84 or greater and a color temperature of 3500 Kelvin or greater, and with a quick-start, electronic ballast.
Look for Energy Star lighting (fixtures and bulbs) and appliances.
Energy-efficient appliances and lighting save you money and save the environment by reducing pollution and greenhouse gases generated by energy production at power plants. Energy Star lighting, for example, uses about 66 percent less energy than standard lighting. Go to the Energy Star website to find recommended products.
Consider an on-demand hot water pumping system.
On-demand hot water pumping systems deliver electrically heated water while waiting for hot water from the heater to reach the faucet. A whole-house recirculating hot water loop is inefficient for delivering hot water quickly.
If your plumbing fixtures were installed before 1992, replace them.
Older fixtures are water hogs, and many low-flow products function as well as their traditional counterparts. Options include aerator faucets and foot-pedal or knee-controlled faucets that let you easily control water use. For more information, visit Flex Your Power.
“Rightsize” your appliances.
Huge appliances use more energy and take up more space—you’ll build, heat, and cool additional square footage to accommodate them. If you don’t need the extra capacity, don’t buy it. New compact, high-efficiency appliance models can save you money and space. This is especially helpful in urban apartments, where floor space is at a premium.
If your refrigerator is more than 10 years old, replace it.
Just don’t put that old refrigerator in the garage and turn it on—you will only add to your energy bill! Old refrigerators can account for about 15 percent of a home’s energy demand; of all household appliances, they use the most energy.
The Consortium For Energy Efficiency publishes a comparison chart of high-efficiency refrigerator models here. And for more advice on reducing your refrigerator’s energy consumption, read this Home Energy Brief from the Rocky Mountain Institute.