During a heat wave, you probably don’t want to flee your house to eat in an air-conditioned restaurant every night. But with temperatures rising, it’s 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 routine and your appliances you can keep the kitchen comfortable, and even save energy in the bargain. Here are some cooking tips from the experts at Consumer Reports.

In our tests we crank up the heat in our refrigerator testing lab, but that’s not the ideal conditions for a fridge. To keep your refrigerator humming but not running overtime, 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.

More on Kitchen Appliances

When putting away leftovers, make sure you cover your food. That limits moisture evaporation so your compressor doesn’t have to work as hard to cool the moist air. When the compressor is running it expels heat into the room. Decide what you want before you open the fridge because every time you do, up to 30 percent of the cooled air escapes.

"And if you have a second refrigerator in an insulated garage like I do, it has to work even harder to keep your food cold," says Joe Pacella who oversees our refrigerator tests. To monitor the interior to make sure it maintains a safe temperature (37° to 40° F), use a refrigerator thermometer.

Ranges and Ovens
Don't use the oven if you don't have to. Most recipes start with instructions to preheat your oven, so it’s on far longer than it needs to be for many dishes. Do your prep work first—slicing and dicing veggies, assembling all your ingredients—then turn the oven on. Keep track of how long it takes to preheat and use that as a gauge for next time. And keep the door closed. In addition to releasing heat into the room, opening the oven can lower the temperature and prolong cooking time.

On the stovetop, match the size of your pan to the burner so the heat is warming your food and not the room. Using a 6-inch pan on an 8-inch burner wastes heat and energy. And put a lid on it. Covering your pots and pans helps the food cook faster and contains the heat. Don’t forget to turn on your exhaust fan, especially if you’re boiling something like pasta in an open pot.

With induction, the cooktop stays cool because magnetic coils below the ceramic glass surface generate the heat directly to the pan. But you’ll need magnetic cookware to take advantage of it.

Only run your dishwasher when it’s full. 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, although that may release steamy air into the room.

Small Appliances
Cooking in a microwave not only keeps the kitchen cooler but also is more energy-efficient than cooking on a cooktop or in an oven. Consider using an electric frying 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.

If you have a slow cooker or a pressure cooker, put it to work. The first can make a meal without wasting much heat, and the pressure cooker speeds up the entire process so you’re spending less time in the kitchen.

Fans and Lights
A ceiling fan in the kitchen or a nearby room circulates the air and can make you feel more comfortable. If you have a whole-house or attic fan, use it to pull the hot air out of the house.

Energy-saving lightbulbs like CFLs and LEDs provide light and run cooler, so if you’re still using incandescent lightbulbs, keep in mind that they give off unwanted heat. In fact, 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. And keep blinds and curtains closed during the heat of the day to keep the sun out.

Gas Grills
If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen altogether 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. Of course, you have to stand nearby to tend your food, which may defeat the purpose of trying to stay cool.