Your kitchen: It’s not only a place where you prepare and eat your meals. It’s where you catch up with your family after a long day. It’s where you chat with your kids over an after-school snack. And it’s where you entertain your loved ones during the holidays.
No matter how you use the space, your kitchen sees a lot of traffic (and uses a ton of energy). Americans spend a striking $241 billion on energy each year. That’s an annual $2,100 per household.
So how can you reduce your kitchen’s energy use? A great way to reduce unnecessary energy costs is to invest in a few home upgrades. To get you started, we broke down five energy efficient kitchen remodel ideas.
1. Update your flooring
When it comes to a full kitchen remodel for increased energy efficiency, it’s smart to start from the ground up with energy-efficient flooring. These floors, which provide heat from below your feet, heat your home evenly, require less energy (and money!) to operate, offer better air quality and remove the need for bulky radiators.
This concept isn’t new—the Romans have been using radiant heating since ancient times. Back then, they’d leave an open space under the flooring and heat it with gases from a furnace or fire. When hot air passed through the floorboards, it would head the rooms above. While the concept is the same, we use more advanced methods today.
If you’re not ready to commit to a full restoration, you can start by insulating your floors. While there are DIY ways to insulate a floor, it’s best to work with a trained kitchen remodeling services professional who can use special diagnostic tools to pinpoint problem areas and hidden air leaks before adding insulation. When done correctly, sealing your floors can save you more than $200 a year in heating and cooling costs (or up to 10 percent on total energy bills).
2. Use windows wisely
Heat gain and heat loss through windows are responsible for 25 to 30 percent of residential heating and cooling energy use. That’s why it’s so important to select the right windows for your new home or upcoming remodel. Before choosing a window, make sure to check the U.S. Department of Energy’s energy performance ratings.
If you can’t opt for a whole window replacement, you can still benefit from new window weather stripping. If your windows have worn stripping, you could be enabling drafts and letting in unnecessary cold air—which will in turn, work your HVAC unit more often and use additional energy. Not sure if your home’s sealing needs a replacement? If it’s been five years since the last one, it’s time.
Something as little as adding window shades also has the potential to increase your energy efficiency. During the cold weather, take advantage of the sun’s warmth by keeping drapes open. In the summer, close your window shapes to keep the heat out. This will help you keep your electricity bill low.
3. Rethink kitchen lighting
An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy budget to lighting. That’s why switching to energy-efficient lighting is one of the fastest ways to cut your energy bills. Switching to LED lights, which emit less heat than traditional incandescent and halogen lights, can help the typical home save about a $1,000 over a 10-year period. That’s roughly $8.33 a month.
Additionally, dimmer switches can help you limit your energy use. If you use a dimmer to lower the level of light your fixtures are producing, you can save that percentage of energy. For example, reducing the lights by 30 percent could result in 30-percent energy savings.
4. Check your plumbing
One great way to improve your kitchen plumbing efficiency is to insulate your hot water pipes. A common method is to install fiberglass insulation around the pipes to keep them warmer longer. Another option is an on-demand hot water pump, which is designed to send hot water through your home instantly (reducing the energy it takes for water to run through the faucet before it gets hot). A professional Alexandria plumber can help you determine which option is right for you.
You can also increase your kitchen’s energy efficiency by replacing the faucets in your kitchen with low-flow alternatives—which decrease water usage immensely. These affordable solutions can bring your water usage down about 60 percent (if not more).
Another little trick is adjusting your heater’s thermostat. Although most manufacturers set the water heater thermostats at 140°F, they really only need to be set at 120°F. Why make the change? When the water heater is set too high, you could be wasting anywhere from $36 to $61 annually in standby heat losses and more than $400 in demand losses.
5. Opt for ENERGY STAR® products
If you want an energy efficient house, consider updating your home to use ENERGY STAR® appliances. ENERGY STAR® products are the same units you use every day—except they use less energy. When you opt for ENERGY STAR® appliances, you’ll benefit from:
- Savings. ENERGY STAR® certified products lower energy bills and save you money. With more efficient products, you also use less energy, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and homes.
- Comfort. Not only can ENERGY STAR® products keep your home’s temperature consistently comfortable, but you’ll rest assured knowing your belongings are kept safe from UV sun damage when you use compliant windows, doors and skylights.
- Trusted certification. All ENERGY STAR® products are certified and verified to perform as labeled. In order to earn this label, items must meet strict energy efficiency criteria set by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Let’s remodel your Alexandria kitchen!
Use your Virginia kitchen remodeling project to increase your home's energy efficiency and value. Contact the kitchen remodeling services experts at John C. Flood