“Obviously, the environment matters to me. A lot.” Caitlin is in the midst of remodeling her home. It is a change she made in part to make the home more energy efficient. “You would not believe how poorly parts of this house were insulated,” she explained. The old kitchen had been particularly problematic. “I want the kitchen to be the heart of our family,” Caitlin said. “And for that to happen, you have to be comfortable in there. You can’t have cold drafts and be freezing all of the time.”
When you talk to your local kitchen contractor about designing an energy efficient kitchen, be prepared to hear about insulation and window choices as well as appliance and lighting choices. This comes as a surprise to many people, but here in Massachusetts, most of a home’s energy use is heating the home. When heat escapes through leaky windows and poorly insulated walls, you have to use more and more fuel to keep the home warm.
This is not to discount the role of things like smart appliances that can calculate precisely how much energy is needed to keep frozen foods at the right temperature or how much water is needed to get the dishes cleaned properly, which identifies small repeatable savings opportunities that help your budget and the planet on an ongoing basis.
Other ways your kitchen design can help the planet includes your choice of materials for cabinetry, flooring, fixtures and lighting. There are points in every major purchase where your personal values and purchasing decisions intersect. Some cabinetry is locally produced by master craftsmen. Some cabinetry is built in America. Some cabinetry is built using exclusively sustainable materials. Some cabinetry is built using recycled materials and vintage hardware. Some cabinetry is mass produced.
There is no right answer for everyone, but that’s okay because you’re not building everyone’s kitchen. Your local kitchen designer is there to assist, but ultimately: You’re building your kitchen, and you can make choices that are right for your values, your budget, and your personal preferences. Give yourself time to identify the products that meet your standards. You’ll be living with your kitchen quite a long time. You want to be comfortable with it.