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Remodelling kitchen for sustainability

How to remodel a kitchen with sustainability in mind

Your kitchen is the heart and soul of your home – so remodelling or renovating it can be a big job. Whether you’re excited or slightly nervous about your project, there’s one element you can get right throughout – and that’s sustainability.

A sustainable kitchen can benefit your family by reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as saving you money on operating costs. If you’re considering a kitchen renovation, we’ve pulled together some handy hints on how to take the sustainability route throughout your project. From insulation, all the way to choosing appliances – these tips can improve the energy efficiency of your home, and reduce your household bills too. 

Say yes to sustainable materials 

From the counter top to kitchen flooring, designing your kitchen is half the fun (or challenge!) of your kitchen remodel. There are some beautiful, functional and affordable materials to choose from that are also sustainable. Firstly, wherever possible, consider using recycled materials or upcycling old pieces, for your cabinets, flooring or countertops. Glass, stainless steel, or reclaimed wood will do the trick and are recyclable at the end of their lifecycle. You can also aim for ethically sourced materials like cork or bamboo, which grows extremely fast, without the aid of pesticides or fertilisers. 

How to limit VOCs in your kitchen remodel

Air quality is something to consider both during and after your kitchen renovations. Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are a common air pollutant that can show up during construction as they’re present in some paints, adhesives and varnishes. VOCs are irritating to eyes and throats and can even damage your nervous system, so best avoided. Both your family and your builders can breathe easier by taking these steps to limit VOCs throughout your kitchen remodel:

  • Look for paint, varnishes, adhesives and other surface coaters that are labelled as low or no VOCs
  • As the majority of VOCs are released into the air while drying, look for products that are ‘quick drying’ or pre-dried. 
  • Take a look at eco-comparison sites like Global Green Tag or Good Environmental Choice Australia, to find eco-certified products with low or no VOCs. The European Emission Standards rates E1 or E0 products the highest and healthiest choice.  

Let there be (energy efficient) light 

A well-lit kitchen is as important for mood and warmth as it is for practical purposes while you’re dicing and slicing your favourite meals. Consider how to increase natural light as much as possible via thoughtful window placement. Also remember that when it comes to your light bulbs, 

LED lighting leads the way in terms of energy efficiency. Not only can LED lights last 5 to 10 times longer than halogen lights, they also use about 75% less energy too.Although LED are more expensive than traditional light bulbs to purchase outright, LED lights are friendlier to your hip pocket, as they keep electricity bills down.

Analyse your appliances 

Energy efficient kitchen appliances are a more sustainable option that can also keep your electricity bills lower over time. Whether you’re looking at larger appliances, like your stove and dishwasher, or smaller appliances like your microwave and kettle, one quick win is to look at the energy rating label. The more stars on your appliances rating label, the more energy efficient it will be – and the lower your energy bill. Not sure how your kitchen appliance weighs up? Use this simple energy rating calculator to see what’s what. When it comes to water efficiency there’s also a star water rating – which can help keep your water bills in check too. 

Eco-friendly insulation 

Insulation – it’s a key part of keeping your home toasty in winter and cool in summer. What’s more, the right insulation can keep your electricity bills down and boost your home’s energy efficiency, as you won’t have to reach for the climate control to keep things ‘just right’. Thankfully, there’s a bunch of sustainable materials you can insulate your kitchen with. 

  • Firstly, talk to a professional about the best type of insulation for your home. An expert can help you make the right choice between bulk insulation, reflective insulation and composite insulation.

  • If you’re going with bulk insulation, consider sustainable materials. Glass wool, batts and rolls; cellulose fibre loose fill; and polyester, batts and rolls are often made with recycled materials.

  • Check out eco-comparison sites like Good Environmental Choice Australia to search for your eco-friendly insulation products.

The information contained in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs and, where appropriate, seek professional advice.