Green Kitchen Updates

Turn your power-hungry kitchen into an energy-saving space buyers will love

The kitchen may be the heart of the home, but it's also the resident energy hog. Plus, your kitchen contributes its share of indoor air pollution through cooking fumes and gases from flooring, paints and countertops.

The good news: Earth-friendly products are available in a wider range of styles and costs than ever before, letting you go any shade of green you desire. Here are some tips to take your kitchen to the green side.

Look for the Energy Star label

Outdated appliances should be the first thing to go. New ones should be fairly easy to choose -- just look for the Energy Star logo. These models are anywhere from 10 to 50 percent more efficient than standard models, so you'll still need to do some research to find out which ones are the most efficient.

At the top of this list is the refrigerator," says Jennifer Roberts, author of Good Green Kitchens. "If it's more than 10 or 12 years old, it's time to replace it with an energy-efficient model. These days you can get a really great refrigerator that will consume less than 400 kilowatt-hours per year, which is low." (Older fridges consume as much as 1,200 kilowatt-hours per year.)

Induction cooktops are another smart green trend. The high-tech cooking surface uses electricity to produce a magnetic field that reacts with pans to heat the cookware. The process is 50 percent more efficient that gas or electric, and is safe to touch as soon as the pan is removed. The downside? It's pricey.

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