Random thoughts on a variety of subjects
By Sam Redman
Everyone’s thinking green. Occasionally, a green thought crosses my mind too
A few years ago, I visited a large Singapore home (actually quite a mansion), of course, fully air-conditioned in the tropical heat. However, I was surprised to learn (it was all proudly described by my host as we did the tour) that the kitchen was not air-conditioned. I must say that I felt quite a blast of hot air when we entered the room, which had ovens going and grills in operation and several perspiring cooks and other kitchen staff, busily working away preparing the meals for the home. There were large open windows to the outdoors and I did see an electric fan on a stand, but the outside temperature was in the high eighties.
Later, having cocktails in the cool of one of their beautiful salons, my host’s wife (who had been raised in Texas and figured that I might find the situation strange) told me that while the savings in electricity was enormous, that largely they did that because of the customs of the personnel, who had protested when all the vents were open and that room was refrigerated just like the rest of the house. So, (as nonsensical as it seemed to conventional wisdom) they relented begrudgingly, closed off the air-conditioning and opened up the windows.
But, back in Dallas (where the heat can be oppressive about 7 months out of the year), I wondered if some modification of that practice (sort of like those “Northeners” who put a freezer in their cold garage) wouldn’t work to lessen the energy expense of cooling ovens and stoves in a kitchen in the summer months in the Southwest (or anywhere). I never did anything about it, although I mentioned it once to my wife in one of my “let’s go green” moments. As you might guess, she dismissed that notion straightaway (saying something about “cruel and unusual”). I never brought it up again.
But, maybe having an oven constructed with the bulk of it outdoors and only the opening accessible from the kitchen could work. I’ll think about it later.