Posts

The Joy of a Green Kitchen

We’re into the second decade of 21st century and eco-friendly options are so much more viable and affordable than several years ago. These options include a myriad of materials, appliances and techniques that reduce pollution and fuel energy consumption like: green materials for cabinets, countertops and floors, green finishing, energy-efficient appliances and thorough insulation methods. If you would like to remodel your kitchen in a way that is more environmentally aware, these are some things to keep in mind.

Assess the situation

Why do you want to remodel exactly? Is the space cramped or too vast? Are there any problems with traffic? Are the appliances distributed in a way that makes it easy to prepare a meal and maintain cleanliness? Does the kitchen serve your needs? Size is an important consideration, because a smaller kitchen is more efficient. If you like working in the kitchen or having a large space for entertaining, that’s perfect – you should just make sure the space can accommodate these needs without imposing clutter. Is the kitchen too hot or cold? Basically, make a list of all the things you’d like to change paying attention to movement, efficiency and comfort.

Do any other remodeling needs affect the kitchen remodel?

This is mostly about air leakage. If your home is very leaky, it’ll be a tall order to make the kitchen energy-efficient. The kitchen remodel should be evaluated within the whole home.

Adding in is better than adding on

As we’ve already said, a smaller kitchen is more energy efficient than a huge one. Adding new attractive features like a larger fridge, a wine cooler or just another bulky modern appliance may be tempting, but do try to analyze the benefits of such a move against the space and the energy and water consumption. Storage would be a far more important consideration – maybe your space should be reorganized so that you can store groceries and kitchenware in a more economical way.

Make preparations for the future

If there are some retrofits and upgrades you’d like to do some time in the future, but cannot afford now, your remodel plan can at least prep your home for that. For example, pre-wiring for a photovoltaic system can be done so that it’s easier to install once you get to that. Pre-plumbing for graywater can also be carried out, so that saves you time and money in the future.

green remodelingThink about the future

How long do you plan on living in your home? If you’re planning to grow old in it, take that into account when it comes to the kitchen layout. Keep the cabinets accessible and the appliances should be distributed in such a way that they don’t require a lot of moving around. Having the timeframe in mind will also decide what materials to use – should you invest in those that will last you forever or can some more affordable ones do?

Efficient appliances and systems

The kitchen hood should take the air directly out of the house.

The general lighting should be airtight and there should be some task lighting like under-cabinet lights and fixtures over table all made from recycled and recyclable materials. The lighting should meet the state Title 24 standards for efficient lighting.

The dishwasher should have more energy stars than the minimum.

The water heater should be efficient – consider getting a tankless water heater.

Finishing

It would be ideal to have green finishes with zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

The natural flooring is linoleum.

Furniture

Cabinetry made of bamboo is naturally low in VOC.

It would be great to have plywood and wood materials certified with Forest Stewardship Council, which will guarantee the wood comes from a responsible forest management.

Countertops can be coated with natural local wax.

 

If you live in San Diego County and are considering remodeling your kitchen, don’t hesitate to contact GGR Energy + Remodeling. We are a professional, award-winning remodeling service company which values integrity, sustainability and enjoyment of a perfect home. Our dynamic team of experienced designers is here to help you make a life-changing decision wisely and to your best interest.

What Should You Consider Before Remodeling?

You know those family meetings round the kitchen table when there’s a big decision to be made? When families discuss remodeling, the questions they most often consider (and fight about?) come down to the color of tiles and suchlike “make-up” changes. But the conversation should go deeper and ask questions that relate to your family’s lifestyle and plans.

The big question is – how do you want to live in your home? If you think carefully how you want to live, work, play – simply, be – in your home before the remodeling starts, you reduce the risk of unpleasant surprises and disappointments once the work is over.

Here are some guidelines on what you should consider with your family and remodeling contractor.

  • How long do you plan to live in your home? If you don’t think you’ll be in your home for many years to come, big changes are not advisable. But, if you want to live there for decades or even leave it to the future generations, forward thinking is in order. This affects the organization of space which should suit toddlers, adolescents, working people and elderly parents.

If you plan on staying, top quality materials will have the best return on investment. This includes durable materials for roofs and floors, isolation, stone exterior, solar panels, etc.

  • Are there any health issues to be considered? Do you have parents who plan to age at home? Then the rooms and spaces they use should be on one level. Avoiding stairs minimizes the risk of injury.

Or maybe you have a family member who is physically challenged? Adapting the main level so that the bedroom and the bathroom are on ground level will be most effective. This should also include ramps, reachable light switches, handles, and so on.

  • What’s the flow of your family life? Does your home feel cramped and crowded because you are all running into each other? Are you feeling stressed for being late every morning because everyone is getting in your way in the kitchen and the bathroom? Or maybe that big dining room is standing there deserted? Analyze the dynamics of your family – who uses what spaces and when.

Flow in the house can be improved without taking walls down and adding new ones. A better organization of rooms and storage spaces can bring a lot of order.

  • Are you energy-efficient? Energy upgrades are a great investment in your home and quality of living in general. Producing clean, renewable energy could save a great deal of money that can be put to much better use than paying utility bills. Plus, even if you decide to move in the future, energy upgrades increase the value of your property.
  • What is good about the home?  You like the community? The neighbors are fantastic? The garden is your haven from everyday stresses? It’s good to know what you like about your home and what you would like to stay the same.
  • Is remodeling better than moving?  This connects to the previous consideration. Moving has upfront costs like transportation, closing and broker commissions. The new home could also require redecorating and new furniture. Maybe there is major repair down the road or energy upgrades to be installed there. Make sure what pays off.

Similarly, you should be precise when talking with your remodeling contractor. They should know what your realistic budget is and they should be able to help you maximize the outcome at a cost that is affordable for you.

As a small preparation before meeting the contractor, we recommend you brainstorm your family’s current and foreseeable future needs. Comb the list and set priorities. What would be the crucial improvements to your life quality? Once you have these answers straight, it’s much more likely you’ll be happy and satisfied with the results.

 

What is HVAC?

The Facts on HVAC

hvacHVAC might sound like an obscure or strange word, but in reality it’s nothing too fancy, and it’s something that everyone is familiar with in this day and age. In fact, all it really stands for is Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning.

When considering remodeling, it’s important to understand the fundamentals of HVAC, because it greatly affects the design of any building and its energy usage.

Heating

In most houses and buildings, central heating is used as the primary method of heat distribution. This means there is a boiler, furnace, or heat pump in a certain room that is responsible for distributing heat to the rest of the rooms. Heat is typically transferred by convection in these systems, meaning via liquid or gas.

Unfortunately, to heat enough of the convector for transfer to the air of the entire building, it requires a lot of energy, which will typically come from gas or electricity.

Geothermal heat pumps are gaining a lot of popularity, however, because they utilize the temperature of the earth, which means a 30 to 40% lower energy cost and a minimized effect on the environment.

Ventilation

Ventilation involves the changing of air in any space to control for temperature, moisture, gases, and other unwanted particles. In larger buildings, mechanical ventilation is necessary in order to maintain appropriate indoor air quality. It typically requires the use of fans and/or central air handling units for very large spaces. A more eco-friendly and cost-effective option is natural ventilation by means of windows and/or trickle vents, which let rising warm air escape and cooler air enter through lower openings.

Air Conditioning

The simple definition of air conditioning is the removal of heat from a space. The refrigerant of the air conditioning unit begins in a gaseous state and is pumped to a high pressure and temperature by a compressor. It is then converted to a liquid when it loses its heat to the outside and cools via a heat exchanger or condensing coil. The refrigerant in its liquid form then reaches another heat exchanger where it evaporates. As it evaporates, it absorbs heat from inside, thus cooling the room or building. While air conditioning can be rather expensive and energy-inefficient, solar energy, geothermal heat pumps, and fans can be used to keep temperatures down while being mindful of the environment and your energy bill.

How Can We Help?

At GGR Energy, “green building” is what we do. Whether you want a lower energy bill or you just want to be environmentally conscious, we can help you design and construct the right home or building for your needs, and it all starts with the proper heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.