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Beat the heat and reclaim your kitchen this summer

How to keep your kitchen cool when it's hot outside

Published: July 01, 2014 01:45 PM

With temperatures rising, it can be hard to keep your cool in a hot kitchen. The refrigerator is working overtime and cooking on the range or running the dishwasher just adds more heat to the room. But with a few tweaks to your appliances and your routine you can keep the kitchen comfortable and even save energy in the bargain. Here’s how.

Clean the refrigerator coils. To keep your refrigerator humming, make sure the front grill is free of dirt, which improves airflow to the condenser. Likewise, clean the condenser coil with a brush or vacuum and make sure the door closes tightly by washing the door gasket with a mild detergent and water. There should be a few inches between the refrigerator and the wall so air can circulate. Finally, decide what you want before you open the door because when you do up to 30 percent of the cooled air can escape.
Cool-running refrigerator. The French-door Samsung RF261BIAESR, $2,100, costs only $48 per year to run compared to other bottom-freezer models that can cost up to twice as much.

Air dry the dishes. Only run your dishwasher when it’s full and plan to run it at night when temperatures dip and possibly your electricity rates as well. Try letting your dishes air dry; if you don't have an automatic air-dry switch, turn off the dishwasher after the final rinse and prop the door open slightly so the dishes dry faster.
Dishwasher with this feature. The GE Profile PDT750SSFSS, $1,100, has a power dry on/off feature. In our tests this dishwasher had superb washing and efficiency, along with special bottle-washing jets on the top rack.

Panasonic FlashXpress NB-G110P

Downsize your cooking. Not only is it cooler, but cooking with a microwave is more energy-efficient than cooking on a cooktop or in an oven. When using the stovetop, match the size of the pan to the heating element. Consider using an electric pan, toaster oven, or convection oven for small meals rather than your large stove or oven. A toaster or convection oven uses one-third to one-half as much energy as a full-sized oven.
Speedy toaster oven. Panasonic FlashXpress NB-G110P, $150, has quartz and ceramic heating elements that cook more efficiently than conventional coil-heated ovens and don’t require any time for preheating.

Change the lightbulbs. Switch from incandescent light bulbs to energy-efficient bulbs that run cooler. Only about 10 to 15 percent of the electricity that incandescent lights consume results in light—the rest is turned into heat. Turn the lights off when you leave the kitchen.
Energy-saving lightbulbs. Our top-rated replacement LED for a 60-watt incandescent is the Samsung A19 60-Watt Warm White, $16, but we just named a $10 Great Value bulb from Walmart a CR Best Buy.

Get out and grill. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen all together by cooking on your grill. Today’s gas grills often feature side burners for side dishes and enough space to accommodate an entire meal. The best grills in our tests offer top-notch indirect cooking so you can grill a wider variety of foods.
Grill with this feature. Our top-rated midsize grill, the Weber Spirit SP-320, $600, has three main burners and one side burner.

Mary H.J. Farrell (@mhjfarrell on Twitter)

   

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