By Martina Guelfi
The kitchen is often called the heart of the home — and that’s never truer than during the holidays. A hub for travel-weary guests and loved ones, a stage for merriment and conversation, the harried space where festive holiday dinners are whipped up — the kitchen is the one spot everyone inevitably gravitates to.
With the holidays fast approaching, is it time for a change before family and friends descend with cheer and festive spirit? Which brings us to another completely arbitrary, made-up holiday we bet you never knew existed: November 15 is National Clean Out Your Fridge Day in the U.S.
The home economics experts at Whirlpool Home Appliances marked the day in 1999 with the aim of encouraging people to clean out their fridges in anticipation of the autumn and winter holidays. When the initiative was launched, the company also provided a toll-free number where people could call for advice on how to get the best possible result. But why stop at the fridge? Instead, when the holidays do arrive, your family and friends will find not only an immaculate fridge, but also a living space redesigned to be as eco-friendly as possible.
Call the professionals
If you must build your kitchen from scratch, you may need the support of a professional. In that case, opt for a contractor familiar with the various eco-friendly options available on the market today. Their experience in the field will save you time and money. And they will undoubtedly be able to advise you on the most suitable, green-minded products and solutions for your needs.
Choose energy-efficient stoves
What would a kitchen be without a stove? However, choosing the type of power supply can be difficult — natural gas is a fossil fuel, but electricity can come from such sources as coal-fired power stations. Here’s a quick rundown:
- Gas stoves: These stoves are appreciated by many cooks because they make it easier to control the temperature, heat instantly, and don’t waste heat at the end of cooking. If this is your choice, keep an eye on the BTU output: the lower it is, the higher the energy efficiency; however, these appliances can add between 25% to 39% more NO2 and CO to the air in your house.
- Induction hobs: These transfer electromagnetic energy directly to the cooker, using less than half the energy of stoves equipped with a standard coil. The disadvantage is that these hobs are only suitable for metal cookware — aluminium and glass do not work. They also tend to be expensive.
- Glass-ceramic hobs: These are the best solutions for energy efficiency. Heat is delivered instantaneously, and temperature changes are recorded quickly — and they are easy to clean, which is a nice plus! However, to work correctly, contact between pan and surface must be very accurate — even a slightly rounded bottom will waste energy.
- Stoves with electric coils: These are not the most efficient choice but can still be an option. The important thing here is to opt for the model with the highest certification and to purchase electricity from renewable sources.
Pay attention to the choice of appliances
Today, it’s not challenging to find energy-efficient appliances on the market. Replacing your old kitchen appliances will save you money and help the planet. Also, you can contact companies and services that offer special take-back programs to dispose of appliances you no longer use. As for the new additions to your kitchen, make sure to do your research. For example, you may want a new dishwasher to help you use less water, but you should still investigate these factors:
- energy rating;
- robustness — so you won’t have to replace it for a long time;
- simplicity of design — since unnecessary accessories can consume power.
If you are looking for a refrigerator, it’s easy to be seduced by large, gleaming models. But do you really need them? Many foods, such as fruit, do not need to be stored cold. On the contrary, the low temperature could make them go bad faster. Moreover, having limited storage space will encourage you to shop more consciously, avoiding not only wasted electricity but wasted food.
Invest in cookware
Everyone has been guilty of buying a pot just because it was cheap. But how long did it last before it needed to be replaced? Abandon Teflon and invest in stainless steel or cast-iron cookware. It may cost more initially but will save you money in the long run. The same goes for kitchen utensils — choose spoons, cutlery, knives, and accessories that will endure. Avoid wood, which will eventually rot, and, of course, plastic.
Bring ecology into the kitchen
Now that your new eco-friendly kitchen is furnished and equipped let’s get down to business: what shall we put on the table for dinner? Many recipes and cooking techniques will actually help you consume less energy.
First up: the oven. Did you know that you don’t need to preheat it? Most modern models reach peak temperatures very quickly. Preheating is practically obsolete unless you’re preparing a particularly delicate recipe, such as a soufflé. The oven consumes a lot of energy, so you should only use it when necessary. An alternative, where possible, is to use a toaster or a microwave with a high energy rating. This can reduce your energy usage by up to 80%. Additionally, you can make your cooking eco-friendlier with these quick tips:
- Pay attention to the cooker, do not keep it on longer than necessary and regulate the flame.
- Try recipes cooked in a pressure cooker, which allows you to reduce cooking time by up to 70%.
- Try dishes that do not require cooking, such as salads, or that do not need to be reheated when eaten later.
- If possible, avoid pre-cooked or frozen foods.
Of course, for both your health and that of the planet, always seek organic and locally sourced ingredients. Your friends and family will appreciate the excellent food — and, of course, your new energy-efficient, eco-friendly kitchen.