Your kitchen is an ideal place to begin making your home greener, because the kitchen uses the most energy of any one room in your house. With appliances working to cook up scrumptious meals, energy is constantly used in high levels. Luckily, energy-efficient models are becoming easily available and even recommended! If you’re thinking about remodeling your kitchen, a variety of green materials and appliances are available to make your kitchen a safer, environmentally friendly environment.

Whether you decide to make minor changes one at a time or make it green from top-to-bottom, here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Upgrade any appliances that were made before 1990. When an appliance is new, it doesn’t work as hard. Also, new models are available that can save up to 20 to 30 percent of the energy that old models use. This is key to decreasing your energy bills!
  • Set your refrigerator between to 38 to 42 degrees Fahrenheit, and set your freezer to between 0 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit. This will keep your food fresh without overworking.
  • The refrigerator uses more energy than any other appliance. Keep it as far away from windows and the sun’s heat as possible. Also, check the insulation around the fridge and add insulation when needed.
  • Choose a dishwasher that powerfully scrubs dishes. This will allow you to skip pre-washing in the sink, therefore saving water.
  • Use the microwave. Though it produces more energy that a stovetop, it also cooks food in a shorter amount of time. Overall, it uses less energy.
  • Add a foot pedal to your kitchen sink. A foot pedal makes you more aware of how much water you’re actually using, and it doesn’t allow you to walk away with the water still running. You can also add a low-flow faucet tool.
  • Connect a water filter to you sink. This automatically makes your water cleaner and safer to drink, without taking up room in your fridge. If you’re drinking filtered water out of the sink, you don’t need to buy water bottles!
  • When it comes to décor, opt for toxin-free, environmentally safe materials. Start with the paint on the walls. Add some fresh style using low/no VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint. If needed, ask someone at your hardware store for assistance.
  • Find cabinetry that is free of formaldehyde and MDF (medium-density fiberboard). Choices include but are not limited to bamboo, cork or recycle materials, like glass. Use wood that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and use plants that grow back quickly. These materials now come in many styles and are gaining popularity in appeal.
  • For backsplashes or countertops, also use materials with low VOC. Popular choices include ceramic tile, recycled content glass or sustainable wood.
  • If you still want the traditionally impressive granite or marble, try to buy it locally. This will save the energy and fuel it would take to send the materials from elsewhere, and you are supporting your local economy!
  • When it comes to flooring, the same rules apply. Opt to use cork, renewable wood or biodegradable linoleum over traditional options.
  • If your kitchen contains windows, make sure they are energy-efficient and well-insulated.
  • Add a skylight! Skylights provide natural light and save on energy costs. For more information on skylights, click here.
  • Replace all of your kitchen lights with fluorescent lights, or install task lighting. You can also choose to add dimmers or occupancy sensors to save the most energy possible.
  • The kitchen is the number one place to recycle! Add recycling bins to make it easier to remember. Also, when remodeling your kitchen, recycle as much of the old material as possible.
  • Start compositing materials from your kitchen! This way, you’re helping to save space in landfills while creating material that is ideal for your outdoor landscaping. Installing a garbage disposal is also a great way to decrease your amount of garbage.

Some of your habits may seem insignificant, but can still make a difference! Use glass containers instead of plastic. Use cloth towels to dry your hands or your dishes. Use stainless steel or cast iron utensils that will last a long time. Use high-quality knives that you can sharpen yourself instead of replacing. Any small difference in your kitchen habits or décor will make a difference!