One of the biggest design and renovation trends in the past several years has revolved around people wanting more sustainability in their homes, in a number of ways. This can be easy for contractors to help their clients achieve for many rooms of a home, but it can also be a bit tricky for those who are tackling a kitchen remodel specifically. The good news is that there are still ways to make a kitchen “green” as long as there’s buy-in from all involved in the planning.
Perhaps the simplest way to increase the energy efficiency of a kitchen area is to swap out old appliances for new, state-of-the-art models that are specifically designed for the job. One appliance that could provide a lot of relief in terms of energy consumption is the stove. Whether gas-fired or electric, ovens can use a lot of power, but ultra-efficient ones are a great place to start, and the same is true of the range hoods that go above them.
Many stoves – especially those in older homes – run on loud, old, inefficient motors, but swapping those out for models that are designed for efficiency will end up using just a fraction of the energy. Moreover, those ultra-efficient models are typically available for about the same price as a less eco-friendly options.
Where else to look
Beyond appliances, it may be possible for contractors to recommend other earth-friendly items for a kitchen renovation, such as in the materials they use when redoing countertops and cabinets. For instance, countertops made with recycled glass may not sound that appealing to some homeowners at first, but they can be made in such a wide variety of styles that there’s sure to be an option they will find attractive, and which would likely be available at significantly lower price points than granite or other trendy counter materials.
There are other types of recycled materials that can be put to good use as well, such as flooring and wall tiling. Often, people wouldn’t be averse to these kinds of installations, especially if they’re doing the remodel with efficiency in mind, but they may not know their options. For that reason, contractors need to be proactive in helping people understand the range of choices available to them.
One area to watch out for here is with cabinets, as even some that are advertised as being eco-friendly may have been put together with glue that contains formaldehyde, the report said. As a result, contractors would be wise to educate clients about the risk and help them find a safer option.
What’s old is new again
Meanwhile, it’s also wise for homeowners who are considering a remodel to think about ways in which they can go green not just with new installations, but older ones as well. For instance, it may be wise to think about buying used furniture or fixtures and restoring them, as opposed to buying new. Retrofitting old lamps, for instance, with LED lights might be possible, and the same is also true of refinishing stools or chairs.
In addition, it might be smart for homeowners to ensure that when they’re redoing the rest of the kitchen, they’re also making sure the room itself is as efficient as possible. Installing new insulation on the outside-facing walls of the room might be a good idea.
“Although it can be hard to spend money on things no one will notice, such as new windows and wall insulation, the rewards go beyond energy efficiency and ‘saving the planet,'” Kelly Taylor, the LEED-accredited founder of Kelly Taylor Interior Design in Providence, told The Boston Globe. “Thermal comfort is really important to human health and happiness. So if you’re opening up walls in order to renovate, definitely insulate tightly while you have the walls open. Replace old windows, and seal all the air gaps.”
Finally, homeowners should consider a number of issues that can be overlooked in a kitchen remodel, such as – when tying it back to insulation – whether windows are properly sealed, or need to be replaced altogether. In addition, if the job does call for window replacements, considering those that let in as much sunlight as possible can also be a good idea for keeping a room energy-efficient. Sunlight can be quite warming even in winter (allowing a heater to do less work) and prevent the need to turn on the lights during the day.
Likewise, installing mirrors in some parts of the room to better reflect both natural and artificial light will make a room brighter without needing to make a pricey investment.
Clearly, homeowners and contractors have a lot of options for collaborating on a kitchen renovation, so the more closely they work together, the more likely they will be to find success on the project. That, in turn, leads to better outcomes for all involved.