Lower Utility Bills Upgrading your appliances can be good for the environment as well as your pocketbook. You may be surprised to know that today's Energy Star-qualified refrigerators use 40 percent less electricity than conventional models sold as recently as 2001. An Energy Star-qualified dishwasher, in addition to using 41 percent less energy than the federal minimum standard, can also save you $90 over its lifetime because it uses less hot water.
Healthy Indoor Environment Choose kitchen cabinetry made of sustainable solid woods as certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Doing so not only promotes responsible forest management, it also prevents you and your family from breathing toxic gases that come from the formaldehyde glue typically used in particleboard and medium-density fiberboard (MDF) cabinets.
Cool New Products Sure, you're doing the right thing by purchasing energy-efficient and water-conserving appliances and fixtures, but it's no sacrifice because you'll love the look and functional improvements available today. You would be attracted to the cool new refrigerators, cooktops, dishwashers, countertops, and sinks even if they weren't eco-friendly.
Take Advantage of the Remodeling Process With walls open and floors free, use the opportunity to check for moisture damage and replace anything that's been affected, add insulation, and upgrade electrical circuitry. Seal air leaks with caulking and weather stripping. Ensure adequate ventilation by planning for a range hood vented to the outdoors.
Consider System Upgrades Now is the time to think about installing a water filtration system in your kitchen (or even a whole-house system). If your water heater is at least 10 years old, consider replacing it with a tankless water heater to save energy and space. The most efficient way to heat water is with the sun, so look into the possibility of a solar water heater.
Buy Green In the kitchen, that means concentrating on appliances, fixtures, flooring, and cabinetry. Now is the time to invest for the future with Earth-friendly products. Take into account the lifetime energy and water savings you'll realize. The initial purchase price will be offset to a large degree by future energy savings.