Sustainability is a top priority for most people these days. We are all looking for ways to reduce our impact on the planet, and if you cut back on your energy use, you will save money at the same time. Designing a new kitchen is an exciting project and when trying to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, you might want to consider how you could incorporate changes in this highly used room. Once you’ve decided on your kitchen design, you can start learning how to cook.
For many people, that is the kitchen. The kitchen is the ideal place to start because you use a lot of energy when cooking and washing up. The good news is, there are plenty of simple ways that you can reduce energy use and waste in your kitchen. These are some of the best sustainable upgrades to consider when designing a new kitchen.
Look For Sustainable Materials
When you are designing a new kitchen, you should always think about the materials that you use and their impact on the environment. There are a lot of unsustainable materials used in kitchens, especially in modern kitchens; for example, cupboards with a plastic veneer or worktops made from plastic based materials. The good news is, there are just as many sustainable alternatives, if not more.
When choosing kitchen cabinets, always go for real wood. They look much nicer and they are far more sustainable. The other great thing about real wood is that you can refinish them when they start to look a bit tired around the edges, so they will last a lot longer. Check out housebeautiful.com for a quick guide on refinishing your wooden cabinets.
When it comes to choosing worktops, wood is a great option as well. You can even use reclaimed wood if you want to be extra sustainable. However, wooden worktops do require more upkeep, so you may want to go for stone instead. Although stone worktops are more expensive, they look amazing and they are very hard wearing. Plus, they’re much better for the environment.
It’s also worth doing a bit of research on the companies that you buy products from. For example, are those wooden worktops made from ethically sourced timber? You should also consider the manufacturing process and look at the amount of energy and water that is used to make products. Although this takes longer, it’s the best way to make sure that your kitchen is fully sustainable.
Don’t just focus on the big items either, think about the small accessories that you have in your kitchen as well. For example, plastic utensils might be cheap and durable, but they’re terrible for the environment, so why not go for wood or metal instead?
Upgrade Your Plumbing
Most conversations about sustainability tend to be focused on energy use, but what about water waste? We waste a lot of water and it’s becoming a big problem, not to mention it costs you money. So, you need to find ways to save water around the kitchen because, aside from the bathroom, it’s the room where you use the most. There are a lot of ways to save water in the kitchen and we’ll come on to those later, but while you are renovating, you should always take the opportunity to upgrade and fix your plumbing.
So much water gets wasted due to leaking pipes, and we never even notice. Your water bill will gradually creep up over the years and you won’t think anything of it, but you could make some big savings if you call in a professional plumber (like this one at localplumber-uk.com) and get them to take a look at your pipes. They can fix any leaks and save a lot of water, and they can also upgrade old pipes. By updating the plumbing, you save a lot of water and reduce the chances of expensive leaks in the future. It’s much better to do this now than it is to wait until a pipe bursts and then call out an emergency plumber to fix it for you.
Energy Efficient Appliances
Kitchen appliances use a lot of energy, especially if you haven’t upgraded them for a long while. Modern appliances are built with energy efficiency in mind and they use a lot less electricity than old models. So, even though you might think that you’re saving money by making do with your old appliances, you’re actually wasting money in the long term. It’s also bad for the environment because you are using way more energy than you need to. If you want your kitchen to be sustainable, you need to upgrade to energy efficient ovens, refrigerators and washing machines. Eco-friendly washing machines also help to save water as well, so this is a great upgrade to make.
When you are choosing a cooker for your new kitchen, you should consider an Aga. It’s a misconception that they waste energy because you leave them on constantly. In fact, they are actually very sustainable. They help to heat your home, so you can cut back on energy use, and new models run on sustainable energy options. They are also 80% recyclable and they last a very long time, so you don’t have to worry about it ending up in landfill, which is a big issue with most other appliances.
Getting rid of an old kitchen appliance does create more environmental issues. These appliances can do a lot of damage to the environment if they are not disposed of correctly. This is especially true of refrigerators and freezers because they contain a lot of harsh chemicals. So, it’s important that you arrange for all of your old appliances to be collected and disposed of in the right way. You should also consider donating them to a charity if they still work, so they still get used and they don’t end up in landfill.
Don’t forget about all of the small appliances, like toasters and coffee machines either. These small appliances can use a surprising amount of energy, so finding more efficient options will make a big difference. When it comes to choosing a coffee machine, think twice about one that takes small coffee pods. Although companies are looking for ways to make the pods recyclable, they are still not environmentally friendly. If you want to be better to the environment, consider a simple coffee machine that takes ground coffee instead of using pods.
LED lighting is one of the cheapest upgrades you can make, but it makes a huge difference. If you don’t already have LED bulbs in your kitchen, change them right away because you will make some huge energy savings. They are around 75% more efficient than a normal lightbulb, so installing them around the house will cut your energy use in a very significant way. It’s especially important in the kitchen because you often have an overhead light as well as lights in the cooker hood and strip lights under the cabinets, so your electricity use in the kitchen tends to be higher.
There are a lot of other benefits to LED lighting as well. They last a lot longer than normal bulbs, which is a bonus in the kitchen where you often have lots of spotlights that can be frustrating to replace. You also get way more lighting options and you can even install smart bulbs that can be controlled from your phone, so you can dim them or even change the colour at the touch of a button. LED bulbs are safer too because they don’t create as much heat as a standard bulb. If you’re looking for a cheap but effective sustainable kitchen upgrade, LED bulbs are the way to go.
If your kitchen is poorly insulated and you lose a lot of heat, it takes more energy to maintain a good temperature. The thing is, you generate a lot of heat from cooking, so a well insulated kitchen shouldn’t be that expensive to heat at all.
Old houses tend to have poor insulation because they use old materials that are simply not as efficient as the materials that we use today. If you are already ripping the kitchen out to renovate it, why not take the opportunity to put in some more insulation in the walls? This will make such a huge difference to the space, making it feel warm and cosy, and you won’t have to spend anywhere near as much on heating.
Underfloor heating is also a great way to improve the heating in the kitchen and reduce energy use. A lot of people assume that it’s less efficient than a standard central heating system but that isn’t the case. Many people avoid it because of the initial cost, which is higher than radiators. But you will earn that money back in savings over the years because it’s cheaper to run, so if you can afford it, it’s a great sustainable upgrade to make during a renovation.
If you are renovating your kitchen, consider putting sustainability at the heart of the design process. These simple upgrades will make a huge difference so you can reduce your carbon footprint and save money at the same time.