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Your Eco-Friendly Kitchen

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You know that smart appliances can help reduce energy consumption, but what else can homeowners do to live a little greener? Here are some tips for transforming your kitchen into a more efficient, comfortable space with a smaller carbon footprint.

  1. Avoid VOCs. Make sure the products you use in your kitchen do not include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which release chemicals into the air at room temperature. Only accept no-VOC or low-VOC paint and products to protect yourself and your family from potential health problems.
  2. Reuse, reduce and recycle. You can add style and patina to your new kitchen by repurposing older items. You should also explore suppliers in your area to find used doors, plumbing, stone countertops, hardware and cabinetry. Recycled stone-chipped composite countertops have become a popular option for kitchens, because they look like granite and are almost as durable.
  3. Build with bamboo. Fast-growing bamboo has become a popular building material for eco-friendly kitchens. You can use it to make handsome cutting boards, flooring and backsplashes. Cork is also a good renewable resource that’s hypoallergenic, sound-absorbing and resistant to mold and mildew.
  4. Use fluorescents lighting. You can reduce energy consumption by 50 percent by using fluorescent lighting in your kitchen. You should also try to incorporate natural light as much as possible to reduce your carbon footprint and bring down your electric bill.
  5. Install top and bottom refrigerator models. Compared to side-by-side units, top and bottom refrigerators are better at preventing cold air from escaping. You should also consider a convection oven, which uses a fan to drive heat from source to food, cooking at a 25-percent faster rate than conventional ovens.
  6. Choose natural fabrics. Since man-made fabrics are created with chemicals that can harm the environment, it’s best to avoid them if possible. Choose wool or cotton for your window dressing, dining chairs and table cloths whenever possible.
  7. Purchase Energy Star appliances. Look for appliances that have been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star program, since these use 10 to 50 percent less water and energy than standard models. Your eco-friendly kitchen should also be equipped with thermally efficient doors and windows.
  8. Use fans for temperature control. Install a ceiling fan if possible to keep your kitchen cool in the summer without the need for constant air conditioning. In the winter, flip the fan in reverse to force warm air downward and reduce heating costs.
  9. Shop local. Even the greenest remodeling materials require countless gallons of fuel to ship across oceans or deliver from out of state. If possible, purchase from local vendors, who can provide you with the materials you need without taking as big a toll on the environment
  10. Clean greener. Instead of using synthetic chemicals to keep your kitchen clean, use natural substances. Scour cast-iron pans with salt, and clean surfaces with lemon juice, club soda, baking soda or white vinegar. Just be careful not to mix these substances together, or you could end up with a surprising chemical reaction.

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