I love talking about the Kitchen because there’s so much going on there that can be impacted. I break my thoughts into 2 categories: Behavior Changes and remodeling ideas.
Many of the things we take for granted as “typical” kitchen behaviors can be changed to reduce waste: Just a couple of examples would be:
1 - Stop accepting plastic bags at stores (they’re rampant these days). Plastics inevitably make their way into the trash can to be dumped somewhere. Start using a canvas grocery bag or two.
2 - Another idea is to start a compost system. You’d be amazed how much composting can reduce your trash load. My family started this a couple of years ago (here’s a link to my blog article) and it works great.
3 - A quick changeout (not really remodeling) is to replace bulbs with CFLs – kitchen lights seem to be on the most in our house.
4 - Environmentally sensitive cleaners are available everywhere today – replace toxic stuff under the sink and in the dishwasher. This is great for kids, too, who are often exploring under the sink.
Then we get to the really little items that nobody seems to do – like filling the dishwasher all the way before running and running it late at night when the rates are lower, or leaving the blinds open if you get morning light, so the sun can warm the kitchen better than your heating system.
Replacing all or part of the kitchen should be accompanied by some research into green alternatives to traditional materials. Nearly everything (flooring, cabinets, countertops, lighting, appliances, windows) is now available in several styles and price ranges to meet any taste while reducing environmental hazards and energy bills.
1 – Cabinets – Use products utilizing FSC certified woods or new materials such as wheatboard rather then traditional formaldehyde-laced pressboard. Even better – if you already have serviceable cabinets just get them refaced or refinished with new hardware, etc. Substantially cheaper and old cabinets are reused.
2 – Flooring - New materials such as Recycled rubber and Marmoleum (updated) compete with ceramic tile these days. Cork and Bamboo flooring is hot these days but they can be more soft and less suited to heavy kitchen traffic in my opinion. (I’ve seen bamboo take a beating).
3 – Appliances – everybody knows about energy star appliances, but look closely at the ratings on the mandatory info sheet. There will be differences in performance and savings over time.
4 – Countertops – I’ve seen concrete ones and they’re pretty neat. With all the negative stuff coming out about granite (radon emissions) if you’re looking to remodel you should check out concrete or another surface that’s made of recycled stone materials.
4 – Lighting – the hot new topic in lighting is LED – technology is catching up and these things are cheap to operate! I think the expense is still a bit prohibitive, though. Skylights and “solatubes” are nice too, but take more work (of course they’re free after that).
I’ve been advising home buyers on green remodeling ideas for a couple of years now. I’m formalizing it into a program offering called “smartgreen”
More on that later…press releases are coming!
For Lancaster PA homes for sale click here. Jeff Geoghan is a top real estate expert in Lancaster County, PA, and an involved community member. Jeff's work has been featured in the Lancaster Newspapers, WGAL Channel 8, PA Business Journal and Wall Street Journal. Jeff's blog on Lancaster County and its homes is nationally-featured. Contact Jeff for more help with your Lancaster PA Real Estate needs. Jeff is also a photographer - view some of his lancaster pa photography portfolio. Comments are welcome!