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DIY: Design your own eco-kitchen

Water and energy consumption

Older models of some appliances, such as the fridge and dishwasher, can have a detrimental impact on the environment because they're less efficient than newer models.

According to the Department of Climate Change, the fridge is responsible for 17 per cent of greenhouse emissions from energy use in the household. It comes second only to water heating.

If you are buying a new fridge, consider the energy ratings as well as the volume of fridge, which must be compatible with the household it is servicing. A large appliance, with the same energy rating as a smaller version, will result in more emissions than the smaller model.

Generally, a fridge/freezer combination will be more energy efficient if the freezer is on top. Be wary of the side-by-side fridges, as they tend to carry a separate energy rating for the fridge and the freezer, rather than the whole unit.

While the energy and water ratings on dishwashers have made it easier to choose between different models, you must be conscious of tailoring your dishwasher to your requirements.

The energy and water ratings are determined by the amount of water used on average, according to the capacity of the dishwasher. Thus, a 14-place dishwasher may have a better rating, but may use more water in each wash cycle than a lesser-rated dishwasher with a capacity for 12 place settings.

Australian taps carry a water-rating dependant on how many litres they discharge per minute. Typical taps discharge 15 to 18 litres per minute.

If you are reusing your old tap, consider placing an aerating mixer on your existing faucet. Taps with an aerator or flow restrictor may reduce flow to less than a third of that of standard taps.

What's cooking?

Australian ovens do not carry energy ratings, but European ovens do, and many of the European models sold in Australia are made to comply with overseas standards.

The energy rating of an oven is determined by how quickly the oven can heat and how much energy the oven uses to maintain a given temperature. This is depends on how well it seals in the heat.

Look for ovens that are well insulated and have a triple or quadruple-glazed glass door to trap the heat inside - without this technology much of the heat will escape through the glass.

Don't let the process overwhelm you. At the end of the day it is not just the choice of appliance, but the choices made by the human who controls them and their impact on the environment.

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