Energy efficiency has long since been a hot-button issue for many. Whether it’s the rising cost of utility bills, or the fear that we are causing irreversible damage to our ecosystem, going “green” has become a real priority. Homeowners especially are feeling the urgency to reevaluate their energy consumption and are constantly looking for green-solutions that will give back to not only the environment, but also their pockets.

There is one room in every house that harbors high-energy usage products – the kitchen. Your kitchen is home to an energy-hungry refrigerator, oven, dishwasher and microwave; all which use large quantities of electricity to cool, freeze, cook, and clean. With the kitchen being the energy hog of the house, it is no wonder homeowners are looking for the latest and greatest green home technology trends that enable full functionality at a cost-conscious price.

The refrigerator. This kitchen necessity unfortunately accounts for 9 to 15 percent of your home’s electricity use. Lucky for homeowners there are a number of ways you can scale back your refrigeration, without sacrificing the integrity of what’s inside. Start by choosing a vertical fridge/freezer combo, not the side-by-side models that use roughly 20 percent more electricity. Of course we all enjoy simple conveniences, but unless you find the ice maker and in-door water and ice dispenser a necessity, then forgo these features; they alone can increase the energy consumption by 10-15 percent – quickly tacking those extra dollars onto your utility bill.

The oven; one of the biggest culprits in the energy inefficiency game. According to Houzz.com, and their round-up of inefficient appliances, only about 6 percent of energy produced from your oven is absorbed by your food – so unless you find yourself cooking for 10+ people every night, there’s no need for the over sized models. Energy use of this appliance is directly related to the size so avoid going overboard and instead choose a size that fits your specific needs.

For those of us who despise washing dishes by hand, the dishwasher is an extremely useful appliance. Unfortunately, it’s also extremely demanding and most of that energy goes towards the water heater. In addition to the large amount of water used in the dishwasher itself, a common mistake people make is excessively rinsing dishes before they load them, thinking this will reduce the risk of unclean dishes at the end of a cycle. Unbeknownst to many, hand rinsing dishes can use up to 20 additional gallons of precious water, so instead of rinsing dishes a simple scraping of the food will suffice.

Now the microwave; a controversial appliance that is met with skepticism by some and extreme devotion by others. Whether you are a lover or hater, it is important to first recognize that microwave radiation concerns have been lessened due to FDA regulation. However, much to children’s dismay, parental concern of placing your face in front of the microwave and watching your food circle around is still an accurate one. Microwave emissions increase at the glass window, so to prevent your child from exposing themselves to whatever harmful radiation is there, choose a model without a glass window. Additionally, to reduce energy usage of this appliance place your food on the outer edges of the rotating tray, this will cook the food faster and allow for a decrease in length of usage.

Understanding your energy usage – and where you can begin to cut back – is the first step towards leading a more eco-friendly lifestyle. In addition to greener kitchen appliances and behaviors, the consumer electronics industry is seeing a surge of smart home product development, ranging from smart appliance apps and modules that allow the ultimate in kitchen management to a variety of energy monitoring additions implemented within home control systems. It may not always be easy being green, but it sure is becoming more attainable.

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