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Saving the planet, one countertop at a time

Whirlpool concept green kitchen uses less energy by conserving water and heat.

Like it or not, our lives depend on energy. Lots of it. In fact, the United States alone consumes more than 3.35 terawatts per year, enough energy to run that computer you're reading this from for about 35 billion years, give or take a few million.

Look, ma! Less energy! Whirlpool via vhxn

In an effort to decrease our environmental imprint and be smarter about how efficiently we're using our energy, several companies have introduced "green" models of their products. Though the Green movement started as a few political conservationist groups in the early 1980s, it is now responsible for one of the more prominent paradigm shifts in technological innovation. Products like Whirlpool's concept green kitchen are paving the way in allowing us to still live comfortably without making things quite so uncomfortable for Mother Earth.

In the true spirit of "green," the ecokitchen follows the familiar mantra of "reduce, recycle, reuse" in a way that would make even the most die-hard tree hugger happy. Its design makes it 70 percent more energy efficient than its conventional counterparts, using processes that are apparently supposed to mimic earth's ecological cycles (Kit Eaton via Gizmodo). Doing so not only saves precious resources, but also saves you some green...running this kitchen costs 24 percent less.

The magic begins in the fridge, which has drawers designed to conserve the cold while you're standing with the door agape, wondering what to have for your midnight snack. The heat that is a by-product of the refrigerator's cooling cycle is then funneled off to be used to heat the water for your dishwasher. Using tricks like these, the kitchen succeeds in reusing up to 60 percent of the water and heat that it generates for other purposes.

Since it's still just a concept, it may be awhile before you have a "trash into treasure" kitchen. But there are ways that you can "green" your kitchen in the meantime, like fully stocking your fridge (this reduces the amount of energy necessary to cool your food) and using as much natural light as possible. See here for more ideas.