What does energy efficiency have to do with a kitchen remodel?
Planning a remodel of your outdated kitchen or bath? Eric Corey Freed explores the opportunities to cut your energy use by up to 20 percent.
If you're considering undergoing a kitchen or bathroom remodel, you couldn't find a better time to start your new project. Low interest rates, slow contractors and eager designers are waiting for your call. (And, thanks to the economy, you can't afford to move to a new home anyway...)
IMAGE SOURCE: IceStone
In planning your remodel, you've probably looked at these cool green countertops, these gorgeous modern backsplash tiles, and even found these formaldehyde free cabinets.
IMAGE SOURCE: ModWalls
But even the most green minded of remodelers may be overlooking the most important part of building green: energy efficiency.
Energy efficiency may not be the first thing you consider when doing a kitchen or bath remodel... in fact, it may not be something considered at all. In reality, a simple remodel offers the chance to cut your monthly utility bills. Through selecting energy efficient appliances and insulating the existing walls, a kitchen remodel could cut your overall home energy bills by 20 percent. On average, any older, standard appliance you upgrade to an EnergyStar model will reduce its’ individual energy use by 30 percent. It's just a matter of making the right choices.
Take, for example, the refrigerator. The refrigerator is the largest energy user in your home. By replacing a 1990 or older refrigerator with a new EnergyStar model, you’ll save enough electricity to light your home for four months. More than 47 million outdated refrigerators are still in use in the U.S. If these were upgraded to EnergyStar units, it would save enough energy to power 14 million homes.
IMAGE SOURCE: Neil Kelly Cabinets
The average family does nearly 400 loads of laundry a year. If you upgrade that washer and dryer built before 1999, you’ll save enough energy to pay for a years worth of detergent.
EnergyStar rated dishwashers use far less water and over 40 percent less energy than conventional models. Saving water also saves energy, so choose wisely. Every bit of energy saved translates into less carbon emissions produced. By lowering your energy use, you are helping combat global warming.
Here's how to know when to upgrade that appliance, even if it still works:
Recent national standards have reduced the energy use of refrigerators to less than a third of 1973 models. Just since 2001 the energy standards have dropped by 40 percent.
Replace any refrigerator manufactured before 2001 with a new, EnergyStar rated model. Current EnergyStar refrigerators use half the energy as models made before 1993.
IMAGE SOURCE: Fisher & Paykel
Replace any washing machine manufactured before 1999 with a new, EnergyStar rated model. Since it saves both energy and water, replacing an inefficient washing machine provides the biggest savings over any other appliance.
The Fisher & Paykel EcoSmart Washing Machine (pictured) uses only a quarter of the energy and water of a traditional washer.
In terms of energy savings, it is not worth replacing that clothes dryer until it reaches the end of its’ useful life. Rather than upgrading it, just use a lower heat setting and clean the lint filter after every use. Better yet, use a clothesline instead. Not only does it save energy, but your clothes will last longer too.
IMAGE SOURCE: Bosch
Replace any dishwasher manufactured before 1994 with a new, EnergyStar rated model. Current EnergyStar dishwashers use over 40 percent less energy than older, inefficient models.
The Bosch Ascenta Dishwasher (pictured) automatically senses how dirty the dishes and adjusts the water level, cutting energy use by 20%.
Energy efficiency is at the core of every global warming climate solution. Even a small remodel is a chance to correct the mistakes of the past and set us on the right track for the future.
By the way, you'll be able to experience most of these companies in person at the upcoming West Coast Green Conference in San Francisco on September 30 - October 1st.