Lights & appliances
It’s estimated the average kitchen accounts for 20-40% of a home’s total energy bill. If Your refrigerator and dishwasher are more than 10 years old, you can most likely reduce Your utility bills by replacing these appliances with high-efficiency models. There’s an Initial investment with upgrading old appliances, but chances are you’ll appreciate the Resulting superior performance and lower utility bills. Another money-saving trick is to size your appliances to your needs. Dishwashers and Refrigerators operate most efficiently when they’re full. If your old fridge or dishwasher is Consistently only half full, consider smaller models. Also, the style of refrigerator can Actually affect energy use. In general, models with the freezer on the top use up to 25% Less energy than comparable side-by-side refrigerator/freezer models. Good ventilation is a key consideration in a healthy home. Removal of combustion gases and water vapor in kitchens is Essential to maintaining good indoor air quality. However, high-powered kitchen Ventilation hoods and downdraft fans can actually create a health hazard by pulling Furnace, fireplace and water heater exhaust containing toxic fumes into your Home. Properly sized and positioned light fixtures put light where you need it, and natural light And lighter wall and ceiling colors reduce the need for supplemental electric light.
Cabinetry New cabinetry can be the most expensive component in a kitchen remodel. First, Determine whether your cabinets need to be totally replaced, resurfaced, or simply Repainted. If your current cabinets are from the 1950s or earlier there’s a good chance They’re built better than most on the market today. If space is the issue, there are ways to maximize what you already have. Increase storage By adding shelves within the cabinets, or changing doors to drawers under counters. Plan for a recycling collection area to minimize clutter. Pullout shelves can be added that Allow you to retain the existing cabinet doors as well. Existing cabinets can be completely transformed and updated with cabinet refacing– Replacing the cabinet and drawer fronts while keeping the base cabinetry. By refacing Them, you could end up with a premium-quality kitchen that looks brand new–at a Fraction of the monetary and environmental cost. Whether refacing your cabinets or installing new ones, be careful with cabinetry Constructed of particleboard or conventional medium density fiberboard (mdf). Not Only can it fall apart if wet, it often contains urea formaldehyde, which can emit irritating And unhealthy fumes for decades after it’s installed. Environment and health friendly Alternatives include:
- formaldehyde-free mdf made with exterior-grade resins for added durability.
- agricultural fiber panels (called wheatboard or strawboard) free from formaldehyde
Binders. In dry and protected areas, they are an excellent option, and make use of an Underutilized resource: plant stems left over from grain production. Applying veneers Or finishes increase the durability of wheatboard.
Perhaps the hardest-working surface in the home, kitchen countertops need to be Durable and easy to clean. They’re also a substantial investment. So first decide if it Actually needs to be replaced, or just repaired or renewed. Tile countertops can be Re-grouted. Wood countertops can be refinished. Even a laminate surface that’s come Loose can often be re-glued. If it’s time for a replacement, be sure to include fabrication and installation cost as you’re Comparing. Up to 80% of the cost of a countertop is related to these costs rather than The cost of material. Finding an environmentally superior choice involves weighing several options based on your priorities.
Backsplashes make the wall behind the counter easy to clean and protect it from moisture Damage. Many countertop materials (laminates, tile, stone, stainless steel, and solid Surface materials) can be used for backsplashes. Since a backsplash doesn’t need to stand Up to as many abuses as the kitchen counter (e.g., cutting, hot pots and pans, dropped Items), you’re allowed more freedom with your materials choices. Some options include Vintage chalkboard slate, surplus or salvaged tempered glass, or a mosaic of salvaged tile Or stone. Choose a material that’s up to the task of regular scrubbing, grease splatters and exposure To moisture. If using the same material as the counter, find out if the material can be Fabricated from one piece, eliminating any seams between countertop and wall. This Protects against water damage and makes cleaning a snap. If a seam or joint is Unavoidable, refer to the manufacturer’s suggestions on caulking selection. Look for Water-based caulk formulas low in volatile organic compounds (vocs), and invest in Premium quality caulk.
Faucets should be efficient, durable and stylish. Kitchen faucets today must meet Minimum standards for water efficiency. efficient aerators save water and the energy used to heat it by reducing the flow from the faucet. Kitchen aerators should use no more than 2.0 gpm. Some handily designed aerators come with a small Lever that allows you to temporarily reduce the water flow to a trickle while soaping up or Between rinses, with the flick of a finger. This feature saves even more water, and you Won’t have to readjust water temperature every time you shut off the faucet. If your current faucet is in good condition, consider reusing it. It may simply need an Aerator or some do-it-yourself refurbishing. Faucet repair kits are available at most Home improvement and hardware stores. Replacement handles, available at plumbing Supply stores, can freshen the look of an existing faucet. Faucets with lever handles (like Those you see in doctors’ offices) are easier for folks with trouble gripping to use and Easier to clean. Make choices carefully if considering a salvage or vintage faucet–many of these fixtures Are water wasters, and may not meet code requirements for efficiency. Additionally, some Older faucet fittings contain lead. Look for newer faucets that can be fitted with an Aerator meeting current code, available at hardware stores. Bring the aerator with you On your salvage trip to make sure it fits. On new faucets, look first at the faucet’s warranty: its length and comprehensiveness Is a good indicator of faucet quality. Look for lifetime warranties, and warranties that Include the faucet’s finish, replacement parts, or full replacement. Faucets with ceramic Disc valves are longer lasting and less prone to drips. Also, look for faucets with Replaceable parts so you don’t have to toss the whole thing if it breaks. Look out for lead in drinking water! Our regional drinking water doesn't contain lead, but lead can leach from certain types of Plumbing in the home and accumulate to unhealthy levels within pipes. Homes most at Risk are those with copper plumbing installed between 1948 and 1980, when solder Containing lead was commonly used. If you’re installing a water filter at the sink, choose one with a biodegradable carbon filter.
Sinks come in many of the same materials as counter tops, including stainless steel, solid Surface materials and certain stones. The same pros and cons of these materials apply to Sinks as countertops. One benefit of using the same material in both sink and counter is That it can sometimes be fabricated out of one piece of material. This eliminates seams That can harbor bacteria and cause leaks. Sinks with steep sides and tighter corners will Provide more in-sink space than those with sloped sides and rounded corners. Counter tops made from a single material throughout (concrete, natural and engineered Stone, solid surface) are flexible, allowing for either surface mount (self-rimming or Drop-in) or undermounted sink styles. Undermounted sinks make cleanup easier by Eliminating the lip present in most surface mount styles. Countertops with a surface layer Of one material and base of another (laminate, linoleum etc.) Require surface mounting Sink styles.