Heat and water vapor can quickly take the fun out of cooking and increase energy costs. There are three basic concepts to consider for efficiency.
First, use the “kitchen triangle” concept for both efficiency and convenience, locating the sink, range, and refrigerator in an equilateral triangle.
Don’t put hot appliances, such as the range or dishwasher, immediately next to the refrigerator. The range and dishwasher give off heat, reducing the efficiency of the refrigerator condenser coils.
Locating the sink under a window is good for natural lighting and to exhaust warm humid air without running an exhaust fan.
The second kitchen design concept to consider is selecting appliances. This is the easiest part of designing an efficient kitchen. The refrigerator and range/oven are the two greatest energy consumers.
A range with a convection oven will cook more efficiently than a standard oven—the upfront cost is higher, but you’ll see savings in energy.
Choose all appliances by comparing information on the yellow energy label, and look for ENERGY STAR models. This designation is earned by appliances that meet efficiency guidelines set by the federal government.
Select efficient vent hoods with about 50 cfm of airflow per lineal foot of the range top, and locate no more than 30 inches above the cooking surface. All ENERGY STAR models use compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, which are up to 75 percent more efficient than standard bulbs.
The third idea to keep in mind when designing a kitchen is to allow for use of general energy-efficiency practices:
• Match the size of the pot to the size of the burner or heating element to reduce heat loss.
• Whenever possible, use a toaster oven or slow cooker instead of the large oven.
• If you find your refrigerator is seldom full, put several jugs of water in the back to hold the temperature steady and reduce air loss when opened.
• Set the refrigerator temperature at 40 degrees and the freezer around 0.
How to buy the most efficient refrigerator for you
A top-freezer style refrigerator is the most efficient, and the fewer features that penetrate the door, the more energy efficient it is. But a chilled water-to-ice dispenser in the door might actually save electricity by reducing how often the door is opened.
People typically buy a refrigerator larger than they need. Select the smallest refrigerator for your needs. A larger model has more surface area so it absorbs more heat from the room.