The kitchen is the heart of the home, and it’s important to tailor this room to your family’s needs. When most people think of renovating a kitchen, they think about design choices, like new granite countertops or new cabinets. However, a kitchen remodel can also be a great chance to install upgrades that offer the added bonus of energy efficiency.
There are so many ways to make your kitchen more energy efficient while enhancing the function and look of the room. Learn how to remodel a kitchen into an energy-efficient cooking oasis with these helpful tips and tricks.
Determine the Scope of Your Project
If you’re serious about energy efficiency in your kitchen remodel, you’ll first need to determine which areas of your kitchen are inefficient.
The most comprehensive way to do this is to hire a professional to complete a detailed energy audit; these audits are designed to point out weak spots in your home where energy is being wasted. Your auditor’s findings could help you decide between repair and replacement on various projects, whether you’re concerned about your freezer, windows, or lighting system.
Whether you start with an energy audit or not, it’s important to determine what you want most out of your renovation. Perhaps you’re in search of a new refrigerator, or want to replace your lighting fixtures with energy-efficient alternatives. Create a list of the “must-have” features, then create a separate column of “would-loves;” this simple step will help you out when it comes time to budget, and can give you a better idea of the installations you can complete during your kitchen remodel.
It’s also important to determine if you want to complete other renovations in conjunction with your kitchen remodel. For example, if your kitchen opens up into a dining room or living room, you might consider if there are any upgrades you’d like to complete in this connected space.
Project Planning for an Energy-Efficient Kitchen Renovation
Figuring out how to remodel your kitchen is a lesson in planning. Once the energy audit is complete, start planning your budget, timeline, and list of project requirements—all of this ideally should be ready to go before you ask for a contractor bid. This way, you will have decided what kind of project you have in mind and you’ll know what to tell a contractor when asking for bids.
Going green in your kitchen doesn’t mean you have to throw your favorite aesthetic features out the window. Energy-efficient kitchens can be both beautiful and functional. Discover how to remodel a kitchen—for style and efficiency—with these easy tips:
Examine your motivations
Finding the right balance between function and aesthetic is important when renovating a kitchen, and examining your motivations for the remodel can help with this. What is it about your kitchen that you’d like to change? Which parts do you like? If you can clearly sum up the reasons for your kitchen renovation, your contractor will be better able to make your vision a reality.
Upgrade and replace
Assess what you love and what you’re eager to get rid of in your kitchen. It's more than likely that anything you want to toss can be swapped with a more energy-efficient version.
Create a detailed budget that includes the average cost of all energy-efficient upgrades you’d like to make. There should always be some wiggle room in your remodeling budget for unforeseen changes, but it’s important to have a guideline to work with—especially as you begin collecting bids for your project. Learn more about crafting a budget for your home renovations here.
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Energy-Efficient Improvement Projects for Your Kitchen
When your budget’s in place and your list of desires are ready, it’s time to narrow in on the renovations that provide energy efficiency. There are a wide variety of improvements and replacements worth considering as you learn how to remodel a kitchen. If you’re struggling to select kitchen upgrades, use this list of energy-efficient projects for inspiration:
- Windows: Energy-efficient windows provide a quick aesthetic upgrade to both the interior and exterior of your home and can help maintain your home’s temperature so you don’t need to run the heat or air conditioning as often.
- Fridge: Swap your old refrigerator for an energy-efficient upgrade that features your favorite stainless steel look. Check out Energy Star’s buying guide for tips on selecting a new fridge.
- Lighting: Energy-efficient light bulbs are readily available at most home improvement and department stores. Consider looking into energy monitoring smart plugs for the lamps and appliances in your home.
- Plumbing: High-efficiency plumbing fixtures like low-flow faucets may reduce water usage and help you save on your utility bills. Look for products with the EPA’s WaterSense label.
There are plenty of projects to help boost your kitchen’s energy efficiency, but don’t forget to consider kitchen upgrades that can be installed simultaneously, including:
- Countertops: New countertops can transform the look of your kitchen; try butcher block and enjoy a knife-friendly surface or opt for elegance with granite, marble, or quartz countertops.
- Cabinetry: Give your cabinets a facelift to improve the utility and style of your kitchen. Add glass door inserts for an instant dose of designer appeal or install roll-out shelving for functionality.
- Flooring: New kitchen flooring can help you upgrade your cooking area; as you browse your options, keep durability and maintenance needs in mind. Choose from laminate, hardwood, tile, vinyl, and more.
- Backsplashes: Used to protect kitchen walls from spills and splatters, today’s backsplashes are made from a wide array of striking materials and have become a focal point of the modern kitchen.
- Butler’s Pantry: This small service and storage room is typically located between your kitchen and dining area, and can transform the way you entertain guests. The modern butler’s pantry serves as a wet bar and supporting prep area.
Making Your Kitchen Remodel Easy on Your Family
Renovating a kitchen can be a lengthy process. Part of learning how to remodel a kitchen is discovering ways to keep your family comfortable and happy throughout the remodel timeline, and these tips can help:
- Check out local restaurants and eateries you’ve been meaning to try while your kitchen is under renovation.
- Create a makeshift kitchen in the garage or another area of the home, away from construction. Get a microwave and countertop convection oven to cook and heat up easy meals.
- Prepare and freeze grab–and-go meals before the remodel begins.
- If you have small children or pets, make sure that they won’t be able to get into the kitchen while it's being remodeled. Set up daytime care or get the family out of the house by becoming a tourist in your own city.
Moving into Your Dream Kitchen
Once your dream kitchen is complete, it’s time to celebrate and enjoy! Host a party for your friends and family to show off your culinary skills. Share the excitement of your newly renovated kitchen, and don’t forget to review your contractor for a job well done.
With these helpful tips, you can learn how to remodel your kitchen with energy efficiency in mind. Discover projects you can complete in the heart of your home on our home improvement page and start working toward your dream kitchen today.
Need help paying for your kitchen renovation? Find a local contractor and ask them about Benji financing. Benji financing offers competitive fixed rates, multiple term options and can be used for nearly any home improvement—energy efficient or not.