Thelen Total Construction Green Kitchen“Green” has become a way of life for most of us and the  kitchen is your home’s  top resource consumer. Manufacturers are always creating new surfaces from natural materials so choosing eco-friendly products does not mean sacrificing style or convenience. Whether your style is modern or traditional, there are green products and design strategies to match. How can you create your “Green Dream” Kitchen?

APPLIANCES: Select your appliances with the Energy Star label. ENERGY STAR is the trusted symbol for energy efficiency. Did you know that refrigerators use about 14% of a home’s electricity? Today’s most efficient 20-cubic-foot refrigerators use 47% less electricity than 1993 models.  Concerning dishwashers, the most efficient models use less than half the water and one-quarter the electricity of 2003 models. Choosing a gas or electric stove is more complex though. Gas stoves emit sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and other harmful compounds directly into your kitchen, requiring more energy for ventilation, but gas stoves cost about half as much to operate as electric. New electric stoves are getting more energy-efficient however. Convection and induction-element ranges are the most efficient.

LIGHTING: Lighting accounts 5-10% of total electricity used in homes. The best way to reduce your power use is to locate workspaces near windows, install more windows, and one or more skylights to take advantage of daylight. Where you need more light, use individually controlled LED  task lighting. LED lighting has minimum 3 year warranty, creates no heat, and gives you more light for less watts. (75% or more.)

FLOORING: Wood can last a lifetime, so that keeps replacement flooring material out of landfills.  What’s another great  “green” option? Cork flooring. Soft underfoot, resilient, renewable, and sustainable.  Cork is naturally waterproof, insulating, sound-absorbing and shock absorbing. It is also resists mold and mildew.

COUNTERTOPS: Cambria or Silestone are your best eco-friendly choices. Made from natural quartz,  these materials are hard, resilient, nonporous and nonabsorbent, making it more hygienic.  Natural granite is also very durable, and a great choice, but does need to be resealed yearly to prevent absorption. Recycled Glass is a fun option where  colorful recycled glass is mixed into cement or resin base, but it is not as durable as quartz or granite. (Perfect in locations where it won’t be subject to extreme heat or heavy use.)

BACKSPLASHES: Glass backsplashes, a great environmentally friendly choice, have shown a dramatic growth in popularity, going from 42% in 2010 to 64% this year. Along with natural stone and ceramic stone, it’s a material that  is long-lasting and easy to clean.

CABINETS: The difference between “green” cabinets and conventional ones is that “green” cabinets are made with formaldehyde-free wood panels and are finished with low-voc paint and stains. Green cabinets don’t give off unhealthy chemical vapors.

Once you have created your greener and healthier kitchen, you’ll want to keep it that way. Many commercially available cleaning products introduce dangerous compounds into your kitchen. Here’s  how to clean your home with simple, non-toxic, solutions and products.

“Green” isn’t just a trend. It’s become a way of life and as a custom home builder we know that creating a dream home that’s also a “green” home, not only reflects your life style and  personality but also respect for the environment.