I am not much of a cook, but I certainly love to eat. With the holidays coming up here in Las Cruces, NM, I’ve been thinking a lot about eating lately. There isn’t another room in our home that gets used more or consumes more energy during the holidays than the kitchen.
According to the 2009 American Time Use Survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American spends more than 30 minutes a day in the kitchen. After 40 years of watching my wife prepare holiday meals, I’m pretty sure that it’s much more than that.
Since the kitchen is such a pivotal room, especially during the holidays, I thought it would be a great idea to take a look at some of the things that make a kitchen green. Because I’m admittedly not a chef, I asked my wife Karen what she would include in her ideal “green kitchen” in a custom home here at Picacho Mountain. In this series of posts, I will be sharing what she had to say.
According to Karen, the No. 1 thing you can do to run a greener kitchen during the holidays is to ensure you’re using all Energy Star rated appliances. There are four main appliances in the kitchen that you can purchase with an Energy Star rating: refrigerator, stove/oven, dishwasher and range hood.
Karen has done a lot of research into energy-efficient kitchens, not only for our own home, but also to assist the customers who come to build custom homes at Picacho Mountain in Las Cruces, NM.
According to Karen, one of the key appliances that customers overlook in designing their energy-efficient kitchen is the range hood.
For many people, a range hood/ exhaust fan is only used in an emergency to clear smoke or get rid of unwanted kitchen odors. However, the range hood can play a much bigger role in your overall green building strategy.
Range hoods play an important roll in reducing the extra heat that builds up in the kitchen while you cook. This is especially important when cooking during the summer. It’s much cheaper to ventilate the heat generated during cooking through your range hood/exhaust fan than it is to cool your kitchen back down using your HVAC system.
According to a number of leading organizations, including the Home Ventilating Institute (HVI) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exhausting pollutants and moisture from the home is one of the best ways to ensure better internal air quality.
During the holidays, when kitchen appliances seem to run nonstop, it’s easy for harmful odors (such as gas fumes), humidity and greasy, steamy air to build up in your home. Not only can the fumes have immediate harmful effects on your health, but steam and humidity can lead to mold and mildew in the kitchen, which can be harmful to your long-term health.
While any range hood will provide some of the benefits listed above, an Energy Star rated range hood will provide these benefits, use less energy and save you money.
Lighting is the next thing to consider if you’re aiming for the ideal green kitchen. We are so lucky here in Las Cruces to enjoy an average of 350 days of sunlight each year.
There’s nothing greener than using the light that nature gives us. That’s why integrating skylights and other sources of passive light into your kitchen is so important.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, properly selected and installed skylights are an energy-efficient way to minimize heating, cooling and lighting costs.
Windows are also important in lighting your kitchen. Windows should be designed to face primarily north and south. This will provide a maximum amount of passive light, while reducing the exposure to the heat of the sun. You can also add solar screens and awnings to your kitchen windows. These will reduce your cooling costs in the summer while still allowing natural light into your kitchen.
Finally, you can also switch to compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED light bulbs. CFL and LED bulbs are better for the environment and will reduce your home energy costs.
Lighting and appliances are the first two things my wife requested in her dream green kitchen. Make sure to read part two of this series of posts to find out other great tips on making your kitchen greener this holiday season.
Contact Picacho Mountain today at 575-523-2500 for more information on building your energy-efficient, green home in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Custom Estate Homes, Patio Homes, Town Homes, and Neighborhood Retail.