Five of the best... ways to green up your kitchen

| 6th February 2012
Five of the best... ways to green up your kitchen
Home experts Andrew Leech and Chris Askew explain how to make your kitchen a greener place to be

Don’t all frying pans end up rusty, greasy and filled with loose bits of Teflon? Well, maybe not: the clever folks at the Oigen Foundry in Japan have invented the NakedPan, an eco-friendly frying pan made from 75 per cent recycled cast iron. It’s cast at such a high temperature that an iron oxide film forms on its surface - making it rust-free and non-stick - that blends with cooking oil, making it more effective the more often you use it. Not only does it make a tasty bacon sandwich, but, for a humble frying pan, it looks pretty sleek too.

But upgrading your cookware isn’t the only way you can give your kitchen an green-over - from bamboo flooring and tiling to eco-friendly washing-up liquid, you can make changes on all levels. It’s worth thinking about too, because kitchens account for between 20 and 40 per cent of a home’s total energy usage. As Andrew Leech, director of the National Home Improvement Council, explains, a well-designed kitchen can be a money-saver: ‘You’ve got to consider the energy-efficiency aspects of improving a kitchen, because it’s not only a question of saving you heating and hot water, it also reduces your outlay no end.’ With this in mind, we’ve asked Andrew, and Chris Askew from the HousePlanner for their tips on making your kitchen greener.

Rethink your units
New kitchen units are being constructed from more durable, chipboard-based materials, explains Andrew. ‘Some of the old brown, wood-style kitchens have gone out of the door now and we’re looking at much more sophisticated melamine, plastic and special paint finish cabinetry, which should last longer than the old ones did.’ Chris also suggests re-using old units. ‘It doesn’t all have to be new and sterile. Secondhand furniture and kitchen goods are more interesting and a lower carbon footprint than new.’

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Recycle waste food 
As well as kitchen cabinets made from recycled materials, make sure you make a recycling bin a permanent fixture. Chris advises: ‘Design the kitchen for easy access to a garden compost bin - and use it! [It’s] amazing how much rubbish doesn’t have to be transported to the tip if you compost.’

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Consumer power
If you are having a kitchen installed, choose who provides the service carefully. ‘First choice is to buy local,’ says Chris. ‘Also, support small shops and local businesses - if you buy from a large supermarket, it might be local but it might have already travelled many miles in the wrong direction to reach the depot.’ Online, Andrew recommends the Kitchen Bathroom Bedroom Specialists Association and the Institute of Kitchen Bedroom and Bathroom Installers, who provide searchable indexes of approved installers, as well as being useful resources themselves.

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Check your energy rating
It might seem obvious, but using the A++-G European Energy Label rating system is a good way to make a difference when buying white goods such as refrigerators and washing machines. Ignoring it is a false economy, says Andrew. ‘You can buy extremely cheap white goods which are very low energy-efficiency rated but it’s not worthwhile because they do drain the electricity. So although you pay more for a higher rated goods it’s far better to go for those - if you can afford to pay for them, buy them.’ Chris adds: ‘Consider a low energy kettle that boils only the water you need - kettles use vast amounts of energy and it is pointless to boil surplus water.’

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Overhaul your oven
Modern cooking appliance design is utilising a lot of the energy-efficient technology, which makes for some eco-friendly ovens. ‘Firms like Electrolux, Whirlpool and Siemens are all very hot on energy efficiency and keeping the costs of their appliances down from the point of view of running and cooking a decent meal,’ says Andrew. Think carefully about the type of appliance you choose - fan ovens and induction hobs are two energy-efficient choices.

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