Cooling a Hot Kitchen

If you’re like me and spend quite some time in the kitchen preparing and cooking meals, you’re probably accustomed to the hot, sweaty conditions in there especially when you have something nice roasting in the oven while several pots are boiling away on the stove! How to cool things down when most of the energy being used in there is for heating things up?

The most common solution is to open the windows and let some fresh air in, which works great in winter but not so well in summer. That’s when the blast of not-so-welcome warm air is accompanied by a host of even less welcome flying insects that seem to be waiting to pounce on me!

Air Conditioning

Of course, since my specialist subject is not actually cooking, but air conditioning, that would seem to be a pretty good second choice solution if opening a window is not going to help much aside from satisfying the curiosity of a swarm of hungry bugs. Darn those bugs!

During the hot months, I keep the windows closed and rely on the extractor fans to vent, suck up and expel as much of the excess heat as they can manage along with any unwanted cooking smells. Maybe I’m not very picky, but I could never understand why anyone would call cooking smells “unwanted” since they smell great to me!

There are good and bad points to following up on that idea, which I thought I’d share with you.

Kitchen AC Good Points

The obvious good points for having an AC running in the kitchen to relieve some of the heat issues are:

  • Reduces the temperature in the kitchen to a more comfortable level
  • Reduces excess humidity from all that steam
  • Cycles the air

That might not be a lot of points, but they’re the ones that matter most.

Kitchen AC Bad Points

Unfortunately, there are some negative aspects to having an AC running in a kitchen while you’re cooking. These are:

  • Uses a lot of extra electricity to cope with the high cooling load
  • Works a lot harder in conjunction with cooking fans extracting the air
  • Can get overwhelmed by excess moisture, smoke and grease fumes circulating in the air

A major problem that faces an AC during a heavy cooking session is that it is constantly fighting with the cooking fans which are extracting air all the time out of the room, some of which is the cool air created by the AC. The fans draw out the air making the AC work much harder to keep replacing it with more cool air, much like leaving a window wide open.

If you turn off the fans, the AC may not cope with the very high level of moisture from boiling pans and kettles. It will, over time become clogged by airborne grease particulates thrown off by frying pans (yes, I do fry stuff).

Swamp Cooler

A slightly better alternative to AC is to use evaporative cooling (a swamp cooler). This kind of device doesn’t use much electricity, so is not wasteful of energy like an AC battling with cookers and fans. If placed by an open door, a swamp cooler will send in a nice cool breeze that will reduce the temperature some and the air can be cycled adequately by the cooker fans which will also help to extract excess moisture.

It’s not perfect, but is workable as long as there isn’t way too much water boiling happening.

Another simpler and rather funny solution as my son pointed out is to put insect screens up at the windows and then we can have them open without being invaded by flying bugs! Simple solutions are usually the best ones.