Photo Credit: Onas Jungblut
One of the most-asked questions my TV viewers ask is "if I could only do one thing for my home, what should it be?" I always say to look at the heart of the home — the kitchen — and focus on upgrades that not only look good, but can improve your day-to-day life. New technologies and innovations in the kitchen space aren't futuristic dreams but are actual upgrades you can invest in today. Here are a few of my favorites.
Think Commercial Quality
Restaurant-quality appliances are popular for a reason: They are kitchen workhorses. So when it comes to our water filtration systems, why do we still use the pitcher-style water filters? The reality is, those inexpensive filters do very little to purify water; they just take out odor. Upgrade to a commercial water filter like the Pentair Everpure system. It's the same system major coffee houses and hotels use and it's the Rolls Royce of filters: Odor, lead, chemicals, particulates and even pharmaceutical drugs are filtered right out. This commercial grade filter is now available for home use: It fits right under your sink and lasts for a whole year.
Think Steam Convection Oven
Convection ovens are a smarter way to cook. The internal fan blows hot air continuously inside, which not only speeds up cooking but also gives an even finish on whatever you're baking or roasting. Why not upgrade to a steam convection oven? Bosch makes a fantastic one that just uses tap water. Fill a canister with tap water, insert it into the oven, and it automatically adds bursts of steam as you bake. The addition of steam keeps food moist and delicious so brownies, for example, come out crisp on the outside and "ooey gooey" on the inside.
Fixate on the Fridge
A refrigerator is literally the one appliance that’s on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Look for one that’s Energy Star qualified. This program from the Environmental Protection Agency identifies the most efficient products in their categories, which can help you save hundreds of dollars a year. Also, consider disabling the ice maker; it uses up to 20% more energy to make and keep ice cold. Invest in a few silicone ice cube trays and you'll save money in the long run.
Think Beyond Marble and Granite
Marble and granite countertops are a pain to maintain and the material is mined from deep within the Earth. If you must have a stone countertop, consider an engineered quartz like Silestone. It's made from the second most abundant mineral on Earth and it's non-porous so even red wine won't stain it. You just clean it with water and a soft cloth. Or re-consider laminate countertops. Companies like Wilsonart have re-engineered their faux stone laminate patterns with so much detail and dimension they look just like the real thing. And they've added something called Aeon Technology, which makes the surface antimicrobial against the growth of mold and mildew. Wilsonart laminate is also applicable for the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, too.
Use a Dishwasher
Yes, using a dishwasher is more water and energy efficient than washing by hand! When shopping for a dishwasher, look for one with a third rack. This top rack uses wasted space to give small things like utensils a place to nest and be safely washed. And never pre-rinse your dishes. Modern day dishwashers need grease and grime on dirty plates to work. If they aren’t covered in gravy or spaghetti sauce, the dishwasher will think it’s done and stop. Less is more!