DIY: Design your own eco-kitchen

G Magazine

Greenovating the most energy-intense space in your home

The kitchen consumes the most energy of any room in the house, yet renovating your kitchen can be overwhelming and confusing.

To make things easier, here are a few key points you should consider when designing your new eco-friendly kitchen...

Taking stock

Before you begin your renovation, consider the state of your current kitchen, as reusing the old parts will keep them out of landfill.

Kitchen cupboards can be reused if they are in good condition. The shell of the cupboards can be refreshed with a new set of doors, or simply a coat of fresh paint and new handles.

If you are not going to reuse your cupboards or appliances, consider how you can recycle them.

The Trading Post, Freecycling and eBay are great ways to sell your old kitchen for reuse in someone else's renovations. One person's trash is another's treasure!

When designing your new kitchen, consider how the design can help you to manage your household waste.

It is much easier to separate your recycling and compost as you go. Four separate bins designated for household rubbish, glass, paper and compost will help to reduce the volume of non-recyclable household waste.

The floorplan

A simple way to determine where to place your new appliances and bench-space is to draw a triangle over your plan, linking the sink/dishwasher, cooktop/oven and fridge. There should be minimal disruption in the flow of traffic between these key areas.

The sum of the sides of the triangle should not exceed 8 m, while each side should be no more than 3 m.

Another way to determine how to position your kitchen is to imagine cooking your favourite dish - drawing a map between each step of the process from fridge, to pantry, to workspace, to utensil drawer, to stove.

If there are too many cross overs, reconsider your design.

Energy choice

Gas is certainly the most environment-friendly form of energy for your cooktop, since none is lost in delivery to the consumer.

Gas cooktops can also be easily reused: in terms of environmental impact, there is minimal difference in the technology of an older model and a new one.

In comparison, a lot of energy is lost transporting electricity from the coalmine to the home. In fact, only 30 per cent of the energy produced from coal actually makes it to consumers.

For those without access to gas, induction cooktops are the best option due to the quick heating process and the fact that the energy is transferred directly to the pot.

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