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.

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Cool Out on the Patio

During summer, I love to spend some time relaxing out on the patio, especially in the early evening. Only problem is the heat kind of spoils things. But that’s not a problem for me because I figured out that putting a big evaporative cooler out there with me cools things down perfectly!

Now why would anyone go and put a device that blows cold air outside when it’s the inside of the house that needs cooling down mostly? Well, that’s my little trick that I’m going to share with you now.

Swamp Coolers Outdoors

Cool Patio

Really, you can put a swamp cooler outside and benefit from the cold air it blasts out when it’s scorchingly hot out there. Remember, these coolers are super frugal when it comes to using electricity unlike their big energy-hog cousins, air conditioners!

Sure, I’d be crazy to put a portable air conditioner out on the patio. That’s because it would send my utility bill through the roof and the benefit in cooled air would be greatly offset by the heat rising from the top of my head and the steam coming out of my ears when I saw an electricity bill the size of Texas!

But that doesn’t happen with my swamp cooler. It burns about 100 watts to blast out a steady stream of cold air right in my direction where I’m relaxing and really chilling in my comfy recliner out there on the patio where I can read my book in peace and not be getting all hot and sweaty.

Cheaper than Cheap

Of course, even 100 watts of electricity costs some money, I’m not trying to hide that. But it sure is a whole load less than the 2,500 watts my neighbor’s portable AC guzzles up when he uses it indoors. Poor old guy has nothing but an old fan to blow hot air on him when he sits out on his patio!

While I’m not getting cool for free, I’m getting it pretty darn cheap and my comfort is worth the small outlay in running the evaporative cooler out there where I’m sitting. Now that’s a nice way to stay cool!

Oh yeah, while I think of it. While I’m sitting outside reading my book being cooled by the swampie, I’m not running any cooling in the house, so I’m actually saving money by sitting out there. Yeah, I know that’s a kind of strange philosophy, but it’s true and there’s no getting away from the incontrovertible fact that I cannot be in two places at once!

One More Benefit

So where I am is where I stay cooled and comforted while I relax, enjoy my calm corner of the world and enjoy reading my book where I want to. There’s the first and most important benefit of using a swamp cooler outdoors.

I get to sit outside on a beautiful sunny day without getting overheated by the sun, enjoying some summer chill. And you know one other amazing benefit of having that chilled air blasted at my from the swampie? Insects hate it and don’t bother me while I’m sitting in that stream of cold wind!

A Summer Chill

What could this sudden feeling of coldness be on such a warm, sunny summer’s day? Logic would dictate that since the temperature outside is hovering somewhere in the low 80s Fahrenheit, everything in this house of mine would be similarly temperate since there is a glaring lack of air conditioning or other artificial means of lowering the temperature.

Yet here I sit, feeling positively chilled to the bone wrapped in a blanket lying on the sofa!

Methinks something is not quite right inside the old skin and bones and perhaps it might be a better than bad idea to consider calling in the doctor. For if my logic is sound, there is a better than average chance I’m coming down with something that I’d rather not be coming down with and that a timely prescribed potion from a medical magician might alleviate.

Chilled or Chilling?

Not for the fleetest moment did it enter my head that something else might be the cause of my sudden feeling of the shivers on this hot day. What else could possibly cause this was not a notion that I would entertain. I was pretty sure it was a case of the common cold or even influenza that was laying me low.

It just so happened that my neighbor is a medical man and also a personal friend, so I did not hesitate any longer in getting him on the phone. It was, after all a Saturday and he would not be at work.

Luck was with me. He answered and said he’d be round in a jiffy.

What happened next was completely unexpected.

The Doctor Visits

Knowing there was a fairly good chance I would be unwilling to leave the sanctity of my sofa to answer the front door, my doctor friend came in through the unlocked back door and found me huddled like a frightened child in my tightly wrapped blanket looking rather sorry for myself.

The doctor was already rubbing his hands together and looking rather cold standing there in shorts and a short sleeved shirt fashionably un-tucked. “Hey Buddy, when did you get the air conditioning installed?”

“What?”

“It’s freezing in here Bud. You don’t need a doctor, you need a handyman who knows how to turn down the thermostat!”

That kind of made me sit up rather sharply and furrow my brow in complete puzzlement. “I don’t have AC, Doc as you keep reminding me every summer when you call round for a cold beer.” I was beginning to wonder if he might not be pulling my leg, figuratively speaking. “Oh, I get it. Very funny. The beer is in the fridge where it always is you joker!”

“Um, I’m not joking with you Bud. I’m standing here armed with some rinky dink meds to fight your summer chill and it’s not you that’s cold. It’s this house!”

I slowly got up and dropped the blanket. I took a deep breath and discovered I could do this easily. No blocked nose or need to cough. I went over to the mirror and looked at my face. Not at all blotchy or red as I imagined it would be.

“Hey, I’m not sick, am I?” I offered reluctantly.

“Without looking you over, I can’t make that determination of course, but from here, you look OK to me.” The doctor pondered for a moment, then, “I think I’ll have that beer. Maybe you should join me.”

“Good idea Doc. In fact, let’s go out on the porch and drink it. I’m starting to get the heebie-jeebies in here.”

We grabbed two bottles of Coors from the fridge and headed out to the porch. It was wonderfully warm and relaxing out there. Not at all like the spookily chilly inside.

“What do you think, Doc? Is my place suddenly haunted?”

“Bud, you know I’m a man of science and ghosts and goblins don’t fit into that place. But you sure got something a little crazy happening in there if you don’t have any AC running overtime.” The doctor cracked open his beer and took a long swig. “Let’s just warm up out here a while and let the beers do the cooling.”

“I concur with your professional prognosis, Doc. Hey, it’s a darn nice day out here!”

Moral of the Story

If your house is cold even in summer and you’re not sick, a cold beer on a warn porch might not cure the problem, but it makes it a whole load easier to deal with.