1) Install operable windows and skylights.
Windows and skylights are the most energy-efficient method of clearing vapors and indoor air toxins from your kitchen. With enough openings, you can run your exhaust fan only to evacuate the heaviest cooking odors and during winter months.
2) Use a high-efficiency ceiling fan.
A ceiling fan improves natural ventilation by moving air through the room, and it uses less energy and is quieter than an exhaust fan.
3) Evacuate cooking fumes with a high-efficiency, variable-speed exhaust fan.
Check the Energy Star website for the most energy-efficient models. The variable-speed option lets you use the lowest effective setting, further reducing your energy demand.
4) Locate work surfaces near windows or skylights.
Daylight is the highest quality lighting, plus it’s free. With work surfaces near windows or skylights, you won’t need to use artificial lighting during the day.
5) Use high-efficiency compact fluorescent lights.
Many people associate fluorescent lights as outdated and having bad lighting. But they have improved dramatically, and compact fluorescent lighting is about four to five times more efficient than incandescent lighting. Choose lights with a color rendering index (CRI) of 84 or greater and a color temperature of 3500 Kelvin or greater, and with a quick-start, electronic ballast.
6) Look for Energy Star lighting (fixtures and bulbs) and appliances.
Energy-efficient appliances and lighting save the environment by reducing pollution and greenhouse gases generated by energy production at power plants. Energy Star lighting, for example, uses about 66 percent less energy than standard lighting. Go to the website to find recommended products.
7) Consider an on-demand hot water pumping system.
On-demand hot water pumping systems will have hot water waiting for you, while hot water from the heater reaches the faucet. A whole-house recirculating hot water loop is inefficient for delivering hot water quickly.
8) If your plumbing fixtures were installed before 1992, replace them.
Although some may be charming, older fixtures are water hogs, many low-flow products function just as well. Options include aerator faucets and foot-pedal or knee-controlled faucets that let you easily control water use.
9) Choose the right size for your appliances.
Huge appliances use more energy and take up more space. If you don’t need the extra capacity, don’t buy it. New compact, high-efficiency appliance models can save you money and space. This is especially helpful in urban apartments, where floor space is limited.
10) If your refrigerator is more than 10 years old, replace it.
Old refrigerators can account for about 15 percent of a home’s energy demand. Of all household appliances, they use the most energy.