Not surprisingly, the kitchen is one of the busiest rooms in the house. Between meals, snacking, hosting parties, and even grabbing a glass of water, it seems as if there is always something going on in that little room on the main floor. So there is no wonder that the kitchen is one of the biggest energy users. If your monthly utility bills are higher than you would like, or if you're just trying to do your part for the environment, here are a few simple changes you can start today in the kitchen to reduce energy usage.
Electric lighting can burn up to 25 percent of the average home's energy budget. While most of us know we should be in the habit of turning off lights when we leave the room, we should also be using energy efficient light bulbs. Since kitchens tend to be the busiest room in the house, the lights will often be on a lot more in there than in other rooms. So instead of using incandescent bulbs, make sure you use Light Emitting Diode (LED) and Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs in your kitchen light fixtures, both of which use 75 percent less energy and last ten times longer than incadescents.
If you're anything like me, you might have a dozen different kitchen appliances that do everything from toasting bread to pureeing food. This is perfectly fine—just remember to unplug any appliance that is not in use. A lot of people keep their coffee machines, blenders, and toasters out on the counter plugged in and ready to go, but even when they're not being used they still waste energy. So to cut back on your energy use in the kitchen, just remember to unplug any appliance that's not being used.
Like with all kitchen appliances, it helps to have a newer model that has been designed to be energy efficient. Either way, here are a few tips for being more energy efficient in the kitchen when it comes to your refrigerator.
When placing your refrigerator in the kitchen, make sure it isn't near any heat sources like the stove or a dishwasher, or even in direct sunlight. Keep some space between the refrigerator and the wall so air can circulate around the condenser coils. You should also vacuum the coils twice a year. Your refrigerator should be between 37 and 40 degrees and your freezer should be 5 degrees. Make sure there isn't too much frost buildup in your freezer either, because that can reduce energy efficiency.
There are a few things to consider when washing your dishes to cut back on water use. The first thing to consider is your dishwasher. Is it a newer model that's energy efficient? If it's older, consider replacing it with a more energy efficient model. With newer models there should be no reason to rinse your dishes before placing them in the dishwasher, which just uses up even more water. Always make sure your dishwasher is full but not overloaded before turning it on, and let your dishes air dry rather than using the automatic drying cycle after the final rinse. The dishwasher's heated dry cycle is probably the biggest energy drain for the whole machine, so switch it off if you can. If it doesn't have an on/off switch, simply turn off the dishwasher after the final rinse and open the door to air dry.
If you wash your dishes by hand, make sure you only fill the sink with as much water as you need, and only with warm soapy water on one side. On the other side put a bit of cold water to rinse with and whatever you do, do not leave the water running to rinse.
Whether you have a gas stove or an electric one, always make sure you use the burner that matches the size of your pot. Otherwise, heat is lost and energy is wasted.
When it comes to the oven, you should be using glass or ceramic dishes. Food cooks a lot faster in these dishes, even at a lower temperature. Also, only open the oven door when absolutely necessary in an effort to keep the heat in. Every time you open the oven door, it loses 25 percent of its heat! Even better, use a microwave for defrosting and cooking small portions, since it only uses about half the amount of energy as an oven does.
If you're ready to take your kitchen to the next level of energy efficiency, consider switching your standard faucets to low flow models. Low flow models are fairly inexpensive and easy to install, making it a great DIY project for the weekend. Once it's all done, you'll be cutting back your water usage by 60 percent!