Green Kitchen and Bath Makeovers, Part II

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Untitled-5In part I of my series on eco-friendly kitchen and bath makeovers, I focused on easy and inexpensive ways to update these much lived-in rooms.  In the next few posts, you’ll find helpful information for those of you who need to undertake more substantial improvements.  Here, I’ll focus on the important aspects of saving energy and water with new appliances and cool gadgets.  Click here to read my previous post regarding the top 5 reasons to save energy.

APPLIANCES:  When your old appliances are consuming significant amounts of energy (and money), it may be time for replacement.  The Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) promotes the Super-Efficient Home Appliances Initiative (SEHA).  SEHA appliances are the most efficient ones of the Energy Star program and are available by most appliance manufacturers.

  • Refrigerator:  The refrigerator typically consumes the largest amount of energy in most households.  If you currently have a model made before 2001, it’s not nearly as efficient as it could be.  Here’s a pdf of the CEE’s Refrigerator Qualifying Product List which includes brands, model numbers, sizes, and kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity used per year.  (Tier 3 in the table lists the most efficient refrigerators).  Remember not to locate the fridge next to a stove or dishwasher.
  • Stove/Oven:  The most efficient models are those with induction elements which transfer electromagnetic energy directly to the pan, leaving the cooktop cool (an added safety bonus).  The next most efficient electric cooktops are ceramic glass units with halogen elements as the heat source.  Also, self-cleaning units are more insulated, but you’ll want to use a little ‘elbow grease’ instead of the self-cleaning feature since that does consume a good amount of energy to run.
  • Dishwasher:  Check the Energy Guide label for an Energy Factor (EF) of less than .65, or an estimated energy use of less than 340 kWh/year.  Some models have an energy-saving no-heat drying feature that uses fans instead of a heating element.
  • Microwave:  Look for a good warranty as well as a smaller model since this will use less energy.
  • Instant Hot Water Heaters:  These devices will provide hot water immediately and will save water and energy.
  • Light FixturesEnergy Star rated models save energy and are available in a wide variety of styles.  Solar Tubes are great options too and are less expensive than skylights.
  • Bathroom Sink faucets:  Brands carrying the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense label will use about 20% less water without sacrificing functionality.
  • Showerheads (wall-mounted or hand-held):  Again, look for the WaterSense label or “low-flow” versions.  These showerheads still retain water pressure, but use much less water.
  • Toilets:  If your toilet was installed prior to 1980, it uses 5-7 gallons of water per flush!  Between 1980 and 1993, it uses 3.5 gpf; and those made in 1994 and later, use 1.6 gpf (check the date which is typically stamped in the toilet tank).  High-efficiency WaterSense labeled toilets save 20% over current federal standards and have been independently certified for equal or superior performance.  Dual-flush models can save even more water.
  • Exhaust Fan:  When properly-vented to the outdoors, these devices remove moisture, steam and humidity which prevents mold and mildew build-up.  Look for an Energy Star rated model which will use 70% less energy and has a low noise rating.  Some models integrate a light fixture.

photo courtesy of HGTV

Tag(s): Energy, Kitchens And Baths, Water


One Response to “Green Kitchen and Bath Makeovers, Part II”

  1. Jasper on December 15th, 2009 9:21 am

    Installing a solar hot water system will also reduce your carbon emissions and, in the long term, save you money. An advanced system such as SolarUK’s LaZer2 should provide 50% to 70% of a household’s yearly hot water needs. In the summer, all the hot water needs will often be met; this drops to perhaps 20%-30% in the depths of winter, but these figures apply to the UK’s cooler climate so adjust accordingly!

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