If you’re looking to add value to your home, one of the absolute best places to spend your money is in the kitchen. Dollar for dollar, upgrading this room stands to show the best return on investment if you create a space that has modern amenities (but still fits the overall home design), functions flawlessly, and encompasses an aesthetic that appeals to the masses. However, if you have decided to embrace an eco-friendly attitude in every aspect of your life, you might be a little worried about the environmental impact of renovating your space. So here are just a few green upgrades that will have your kitchen looking great.
1. CFL lighting. The easiest eco-friendly upgrade to any space is the inclusion of energy-saving lights. While you could get fancy and drop a ton of money on various forms of natural lighting (windows, skylights, or even solar-powered lights), there’s no need to spend thousands of dollars that you may never recoup when you can simply use compact fluorescent bulbs in place of your regular incandescents. They conserving energy, using about 30% less electricity, and materials (they can last up to ten times as long as traditional bulbs).
2. Aerated faucet. In addition to saving energy on lighting, you can conserve the water you use in the kitchen by installing an aerated faucet. This handy device works in much the same way as an intake manifold on your car, drawing in air and mixing it with the water in your tap. The air is pressurized so that your water pressure remains the same (or even improves) despite the fact that you are using half the water. And you can easily install these faucets all over the house (even in your shower).
3. Energy-star appliances. If it’s time to replace the old fridge and oven that came with your house (and were there for who-knows how long before you showed up) you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover that energy-saving appliances are now the standard. Each one runs on less energy than its elder brethren and you can find options for not only standards like the stove and refrigerator, but also for common extras like the dishwasher and microwave, as well as luxury items like trash compactors and wine fridges.
4. Faux stone. Although granite countertops and limestone flooring are all the rage these days, you can get the same look for less and do your part for the environment by going faux. Tile facsimiles of natural stone can be indistinguishable from the real thing and they’ll allow you to make your space beautiful without the environmental destruction, pollution, and waste that result from mining operations that bring natural stone to the marketplace.
5. Reclaimed cabinets. When it comes to kitchen cabinets, nothing beats the look and feel of wood. But you probably don’t relish the thought of denuding a forest just so you can build your dream kitchen. Instead, look into re-facing the cabinets you have for an updated look (if they’re functional and in relatively good condition) or simply visit a store that specializes in reclaimed cabinetry. What didn’t suit another person’s home might be perfect for yours. You can save some money, keep these items out of the landfill, and remake your kitchen with less harm to the environment.