From eco friendly countertops to energy efficient appliances, there are plenty of ways to combine sustainability and style in your kitchen
Photo credit: Sleek Concrete by Caesarstone, from £300 per sqm, has up to 42 per cent reclaimed quartz. (0800 158 8088; caesarstone.co.uk)
We know that solar panels, cycling to work and reusing plastic bags contribute to reducing our carbon footprint, but what can we do to save energy inside our homes?
Kitchens can drain a lot of energy. Using recycled or sustainably produced materials, energy efficient appliances and seeking out low-impact manufacturing are all areas to consider when planning an eco friendly kitchen. Follow our four steps to creating a green kitchen.
Cabinets and worktops
The materials used to construct units and surfaces contribute to a kitchen’s eco credentials. One on-trend option for the units is birch plywood, made of thin sheets of timber sandwiched together for strength with minimal waste. Check that it’s FSC-certified and made with a non-chemical-based adhesive. Melamine Faced Chipboard (MFC) and Medium-Density Fibreboard (MDF) can also be eco-friendly if they include recycled timber or chipboard waste.
Ideally, this should be a high proportion of the finished product. Ecoboard is a good choice as it’s made with compressed agricultural by-products such as straw, while reclaimed timber offers a rustic-chic look, but for this option you may have to pay up to 30 per cent more than standard timber units.
Floors and walls
Fast-growing materials such as bamboo and engineered boards made from ethically sourced timber are the most widely available eco-flooring, but they’re not the only option. ‘Resin is a greatly undervalued eco-friendly floor and wall covering,’ explains Isobel Stewart at Sphere 8 (020 8969 0183; sphere8.com). ‘Resin made from natural biopolymers can replicate the look of polished concrete without the huge quantities of water and chemicals needed to produce it.’ Expect to pay around £150 per sqm.
Some porcelain tiles may also contain recycled content, such as the Eco range by Domus (020 8481 9500; domustiles.co.uk). For the walls, look for water-based low-VOC paints or try a company such as Earth Friendly Supplies (0191 296 4344; earthfriendlysupplies.co.uk), which makes its range from waste paint that would otherwise end up in landfill.
Skins and tops
Stainless steel sinks are often made of recycled steel and can be recycled after use. For a more traditional feature, try reclaimed Butler and Belfast designs. Multifunctional taps can also cut water and energy usage. Look for aerators to boost the flow, sparkling water and filter taps that replace the need to buy bottled water and instant hot water taps that only heat what’s required.
‘Our relaunched filtered and hot water system features a “holiday mode” that caps the temperature at 60ºC for lower energy costs,’ explains Paul Bailey at Grohe (0871 200 3414; grohe.co.uk). Instant hot water taps are now more affordable, with prices from £500.
Improving technology has enabled many appliances to become more energy-efficient, with connectivity and monitoring sensors poised to improve this further. ‘In our cooling range, thermal insulation and door sealing, inverter compression and electronic or mechanical controls have reduced power consumption,’ explains Stuart Benson at Gorenje (020 8247 3980; gorenje.co.uk).
‘Developments in lighting have had an impact, with LED fixtures with a longer lifecycle and lower energy consumption. As an example of the difference ratings make, comparable refrigerators with A+++ energy-efficiency ratings use 60 per cent less power than those in the A class.’
For more tips and tricks on creating an eco kitchen, purchase the November issue of Grand Designs magazine, out now.