To Hood or Not to Hood

We are talking range hoods, btw.

I am obsessed with houses, health and the environment. So, this morning I open my Clever email from Architectural Digest and enjoy the dopamine pleasure of viewing the minimalist, white and bright interior pictures of Matthew Frost’s home in Los Angeles. Ah, so dreamy! The dopamine quickly turns to adrenaline when I learn that he opted for no range hood in his kitchen. What?! Noooooo!

Photo by  Laure Joliet

Why no range hood Matthew? He says he didn’t put in a backsplash because because he isn’t cooking bolognese every night. With that little clue, I assume Matthew doesn’t think he needs a range hood because he doesn’t cook a bunch of greasy food and he likes the clean lines. Admittedly, the minimalist kitchen does look good and I don’t have a range hood (or downdraft vent) either.

So, why do I care that he doesn’t have a range hood? Why does he NEED a vented range hood and in my own house I don’t have one? Hint: It’s not because I am hypocritical, at least not in this particular case.

The reason he needs a range hood is that his cooktop is gas and mine isn’t. Even if all Matthew does is boil water, the gas is filling up his home and polluting his indoor air quality. For safety and health, gas cooktops need a powerful range hood that vents to the outside (not a microwave rangehood) and it needs to be turned on single. time the gas is turned on, not just when frying fish.

Tiny houses on wheels are notorious for having propane cooktops and no vented hood. It’s especially unhealthy in those teeny tiny spaces. Safety codes don’t allow us to have a gas fireplace without a vent to the outside so, why do we allow gas stoves without vented range hoods?

Photo by Anne Sage

Viewing another bright and minimalist styled home in L.A. through the Schoolhouse blog, I see yet another gas range that appears to have no venting. The aesthetic of Anne Sage’s kitchen is so, so gorgeous but her slide in gas range can put out 5000-17,000 BTUs and create unhealthy indoor air for her and her family.

There are two ways Matthew and Anne, or anyone without a vented range hood, can improve their indoor air quality when cooking.

First, open the windows and try to get a cross breeze while the gas cooktop is on. This might be fine in LA but if you live where it gets really cold or really hot, this is not a great solution.

If you cannot or do not want to install a vented hood, a better solution is to actually trade out that gas cooktop range for an induction cooktop range. Induction cooktops have many benefits: heat quickly, energy efficient, easy to clean. However, the biggest benefit for Matthew, and those of us not wanting or able to vent our cooktop to the outside, is that induction cooktops don’t necessarily need vented. However, if you do a lot of high heat cooking or frying (we don’t) a dedicated vent to the outside is advised.

I hope Matthew Frost and Anne Sage each have a fabulous friend who cares about their health enough to suggest trading out their gas ranges for a slide-in induction range (or install a minimalist hidden vent). Besides, all the cool kids have electric induction … some even add a vented hoods (to expel VOCs from cooking greasy foods).

Want to learn more?

rmi article about gas stoves emitting elevated indoor nitrogen dioxide (a toxic gas) that often exceed indoor guidelines and outdoor standards.

UCLA Fielding School of Public Health by Professor Yifang Zhu
Why Gas Stoves are More Hazardous Than We’ve Been led to Believe

Slate article on hazards of gas stoves and how the natural gas industry sold us them in the first place

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