The kitchen is the heart of the home. It's the room where you cook your food, eat family meals and entertain guests. It can also be the eco-friendly center of the house with a few upgrades. When deciding on your next remodeling project, consider adding features that will cut back on your energy bills and decrease your carbon footprint.

Using natural light can reduce your electrical bill.

1. Use Natural Light

The sun is a free, all-natural source of light. Install large windows or skylights in your kitchen to utilize this source and reduce the amount of energy you pour into lighting every month.

If you don't have many windows in your kitchen right now, have them installed. When upgrading your windows, be sure to choose airtight models with coated glass panes that keep heat in during the winter, and out during the summer. The best place to install additional windows is against a wall on the east or west side of your house, as these are places that get the most sunlight.

2. Eco-Friendly Flooring

There are a number of flooring options out there, and some are better for the environment than others. If you love the look of hardwood for your kitchen floor, consider bamboo instead of traditional wood. This fast-growing plant is easy to replace in nature. The same goes for cork and eucalyptus. Cork comes from the bark of a specific tree. Harvesting this material does not harm the plant in the process.

If you must have traditional hardwood floors, choose flooring that is certified as ethically sourced by the Forest Stewardship Council.

In-floor radiant heating keeps the kitchen warm so your furnace doesn't have to work as hard.

3. Radiant Heating

In-floor heating systems are easy to install and add warmth and comfort to your kitchen. Imagine cooking dinner barefoot in the winter, and you'll understand why this luxury is so popular. The best part is that it can help transform your kitchen into an eco-friendly haven.

Heated flooring keeps the kitchen warm so your furnace doesn't have to work as hard. Traditional home heating loses energy during conversion from electric to heat, but radiant systems do not. In fact, they operate with 100 percent efficiency. You will cut back on heating costs and energy use by installingradiant heating.

4. Natural Ventilation

Install ceiling fans, vents and easy-to-open windows in your kitchen to create natural breezes. When planning your ventilation, install windows on the leeward side of your home to encourage airflow throughout the room. Fans can help keep that breeze moving.

By having an all-natural cooling system, you'll cut back on the energy you use to keep the kitchen comfortable during the summer.

Also, avoid using the oven when your air conditioning is on, as this heats the kitchen up when the system is working to cool it down. It's counterproductive.

Compact fluorescent bulbs are 30% more efficient than traditional bulbs.

5. Efficient products

Choose appliances with the Energy Star seal. These products have been tested for energy efficiency and are guaranteed to reduce energy consumption. You can replace your stove, oven and refrigerator with more efficient models.

Furthermore, use compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, rather than incandescent ones, in your kitchen. CFLs are 30 percent more efficient than traditional bulbs, which substantially decreases your monthly electric bill.

With these five tips, your home will be “greener” while you save some “green.” 


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