• Budget-Friendly Ways to Keep Your Kitchen Cool

  • An airy kitchen equipped with a ceiling fan. // Hunter Fan Company

  • We know using an air conditioner keeps temperatures low inside your home, but we also understand that electric bills are sky high during peak heat, which is why energy efficiency is especially important during the summer months. Having an energy-efficient home saves you money, and using less energy in turn helps the environment. Instead of blasting the air conditioner all day, try to use it only when you really need it. Here are some alternative ways to help keep your kitchen cool! 

    Choose Your Kitchen Appliances Wisely

    Using the range and/or the oven generates a lot of heat. When it comes to ovens, it takes time to preheat. Many people preheat far earlier than needed, allowing the oven to get to temperature before they’re ready to start baking, which can make the whole kitchen feel like an oven. 

    Summer is a good time to take advantage of small appliances as they use less energy and generate less heat. Appliances like the microwave also cook food quickly. Put your toaster or convection oven to use – these use ⅓-½  of the energy of a full-sized oven and produce less heat. This is especially helpful if you live in a small household and don’t need to cook big meals. If you have a slow cooker or pressure cooker (a.k.a. Crockpot or Instant Pot), these are great options too!

    Another way to keep your kitchen cool on especially hot days is to avoid cooking inside altogether by utilizing your barbeque. Cooking outdoors allows air to fully circulate. An added benefit of a gas or charcoal grill is that they offer a more authentic smoky flavor quintessential of summer. 

    If you must use your larger appliances, try to use them in the morning or evening because temperatures are highest in the afternoon. Don’t forget to turn on the exhaust fan or range hood when cooking on the stove. A good rule of thumb when using the range is to use the same size pot as the burner. If your pots and pans are too small, more unnecessary heat escapes in the space beyond your cookware. Additionally, putting lids on pots and pans will help food cook faster and contain the heat. 

    As for the oven, note the time it takes to preheat in order to reach the desired temperature so you’ll know when to start preheating next time. Also, unless necessary, resist opening the oven door while cooking as doing so releases heat and can potentially make your dishes take longer to cook. These tips help yield greater results for your baked goods while also avoiding having the oven turned on longer than it needs to be. 

    The same general rule applies to dishwashers. Running it at night and only when it’s full will save energy. In warmer months, you can also try air-drying your dishes to reduce energy consumption. 

    Increase Air Flow 

    Oftentimes, cooling off doesn’t only involve bringing down the temperature. The movement of air comes into play as well. A room that’s stuffy will feel hot even though the temperature isn’t particularly high. That’s why it’s important to know how to circulate the air around the space.

    First, it’s important to keep your windows, curtains, blinds, and exterior doors closed during the daytime, especially on hot, sunny days. This keeps sun rays from getting in the windows and heating up your home. Open the windows at night as temperatures drop lower to circulate air. 

    Second, get strategic with your use of fans. Different fans have different purposes. Ceiling fans are very effective cooling devices when used correctly. Because anything with a running motor actually adds heat to the room, ceiling fans should only be used when there are people present in the room. That way, it cools the skin. Ceiling fans can make you feel 5 degrees cooler. Box fans placed in a window will either help draw in outside air (if blades are facing away from the window) or pull hot air out of the room (if blades are facing towards the window). The most effective way is to use 2 box fans, one facing inwards and the other outwards, to maximize airflow. However, before you put a box fan in a window, make sure it is rain-resistant to avoid the possibility of causing a fire. Not all box fans are built for outdoor usage!

    As mentioned previously, don’t forget the built-in fan in your range hood. Remembering to turn it on will help reduce heat while cooking and filter out odors, grease, moisture, and smoke that can be potentially harmful. Most range hoods have at least 2 fan speeds. Utilize the low setting for regular cooking and the high setting when deep-frying or if something burns. 

    Also, putting a bucket of ice or frozen bottles in front of a fan creates a makeshift air conditioner. As the wind passes over the ice, it disperses cool air around the room. 

    A Bright Idea

    In terms of energy efficiency, the light bulbs you use in your fixtures matter. You should consider using light bulbs that generate less heat such as LEDs (Light-Emitting Diodes) or CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lamps). Both of these options use less energy compared to incandescent or halogen light bulbs, of which 90% of energy may be lost to heat. LED and CFL bulbs also have a much longer lifespan. With regular usage, though both CFL and LED light bulbs have long lifespans, LED light bulbs tend to last the longest and can last years before needing to be replaced. 

    Additionally, consider installing a dimmer switch and using dimming light bulbs. This gives you flexibility to choose how bright you need your lights so that you’re not using more energy than you need. 

    Replace Your Air Filter

    A leading cause of high energy bills in the summer is a clogged air filter. It causes the system to use 15% more energy. A clogged filter does not allow for adequate air circulation and prevents your heating and cooling system from functioning normally. As dirt and debris build up on the surface of the filter, the system will have to work extra hard to pass air through it. This leads to more energy being used and also uneven heating and cooling around the house. As a result, it may become more difficult to reach your desired temperature with a dirty filter. 

    Plants: Natural Air Conditioners

    Many people use indoor plants for decorative purposes, but did you know plants also have the added benefit of keeping your home cool? During a process called transpiration, plants lose water through evaporation from their leaves, stems, and flowers through transpiration, much like human sweat. This process creates a cooling effect in and around the plants and helps to purify and cool the air. Through this same process, plants also increase humidity in the air when they release water which assists in filtering out indoor air pollutants

    You may notice that you breathe better with plants in the house. When we breathe, we inhale oxygen (O2) and exhale carbon dioxide (CO2). During a process called photosynthesis, plants do the opposite and absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. This natural exchange in gases increases air circulation and makes plants a great addition inside the home. 

    Here’s a list of recommended plants that will work the best to bring down temperatures in your kitchen (and your home in general). The best indoor plants for this purpose tend to have large leaves and/or leaves with high water content. 

    Do These Sound Like Cool Ideas?

    Your kitchen renovation professional can help answer your questions or offer recommendations for improving the overall flow and appearance of your kitchen. Contact us today to take the first step toward upgrading your space!