The Story behind a Newton Accessory Apartment: Appliances

For some homeowners, remodeling a kitchen and choosing appliances means going “bigger” – double ovens, 6-8 burners on the stovetop, or adding a steam oven or warming drawer. In the case of our accessory apartment, bigger doesn’t mean better. Instead, we chose appliances that are not only appropriately sized for the space and amount of use they will get by two people, but that are also energy efficient to complement our efforts to make the entire unit as efficient as possible.

Kitchen Appliances

Although the apartment is tiny (418 square feet, including the entry/stairs, living area, bedroom and bath), it is thoughtfully laid out and the kitchen remains the heart of this smaller “home within a home.” We chose a 24”, 4-burner, GE electric range for the kitchen. Given that the home has solar electricity and the stove is compact and won’t draw an excessive amount of electricity to heat and prepare food, this was the perfect choice. And going electric means we aren’t introducing gas fumes into our tight building envelope. The exhaust hood for the stove runs directly out the back of the unit. As a result, the cabinet above it can be used for storage rather than ductwork.

Nearby, the Haier dishwasher is only 18” – definitely smaller than the average dishwasher. However, with only two adults sharing the apartment, anything larger would be overkill and the washer would need to be run before it actually filled up.

Rounding out the kitchen appliances is the refrigerator. We chose one with a bottom freezer that is only 24” wide, counter-depth and only has to be 2” away from the wall for the doors to open fully. Blomberg refrigerators are Energy Star certified to conserve electricity and save the homeowners’ money. Plus, this brand of refrigerators is built with 99.9% lead-free materials, 100% free from ozone-depleting greenhouse gases, and manufactured with 85% recyclable components.

Laundry

Next up: laundry. More common in Europe than here in the United States, we chose a combination washer/dryer from Haier rather than two, stand-alone units. Obviously, an all-in-one unit saves space, plus there’s the added benefit of not having to move wet, heavy clothes from washer to dryer. From our perspective, this unit fit the bill because of its energy-efficiency rating, and the fact that it’s nonventing. In other words, it recycles the hot air to dry the clothes rather than wasting the heat and venting it outside. Plus, we didn’t need to create another hole for a dryer vent in our highly insulated building envelope.

From the exterior walls and roof (built to seal out cold air and keep the heat inside), to the cellulose insulation, and now the appliances, this entire accessory apartment was constructed using sustainable building techniques and using the most energy-efficient materials we could find that suit our northeastern climate.