I’d Never Make it Through a Summer Heatwave Without this Kitchen Tool

Turning the wall oven on during a heatwave can take things from bad to worse. Full-sized gas and electric ovens, even newer and more efficient models, are notorious for heating up the kitchen and sometimes the entire house depending on how large your space is. Cooking outside with a grill, smoker, pizza oven or fire pit is another way to keep the kitchen cool during a heatwave, but standing outside in 90-plus degree temperatures over a hot grill is not my idea of a good time. 

A heatwave requires some creative thinking to keep the home cool and an air fryer is my ticket to getting through those sweltering summer spells without starving. 

An air fryer cooks fast and emits less energy than an oven or grill. I’ve found that cooking with an air fryer doesn’t cause the temperature in my house to rise much, whereas turning on the oven — even just to preheat — can cause a noticeable increase.

crux air fryer controls

Trendy air fryers are all they’re cracked up to be, especially when it’s hot out.

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So much so that I’ve all but abandoned the oven and even my grill during steamy summer days and gone full air fryer. My sanity and monthly energy bill are both better for it. 

To see if air fryers really are the ultimate heatwave cooking device, I compared the amount cooking with an air fryer would raise the temperature in my kitchen versus using a full-sized wall oven.

How I tested the heat output of an air fryer vs. a wall oven

chicken on cutting board having just been cooked in air fryer

The air fryer turns out juicy chicken thighs in under 20 minutes.

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To find real-world differences, I roasted chicken thighs in my KitchenAid wall oven (less than 10 years old) and a 4-quart Dreo air fryer, according to two popular recipes from a well-known cooking site. I tested the temperature before, during and after to see how much of a difference each machine makes.

My Brooklyn apartment kitchen is on the small side, but it’s not enclosed and opens up to the rest of the apartment. I kept the windows closed for the test, although it’s worth noting that recent studies show cooking with natural gas in an enclosed kitchen can be a health risk. 

roasted chicken in the oven

I’m finding fewer and fewer reasons to turn on the big oven these days.

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The standard oven recipe called for the chicken to be roasted at 375 degrees for 30 minutes in the oven. Because of its smaller chamber, the air fryer recipe only required 20 minutes of cooking at the same temperature. The air fryer requires only about a minute to come to temperature, while the oven takes more than five.


An ambient thermometer is all I needed to test how much hotter a gas oven can make the kitchen. 

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I placed a standard ambient thermometer in the middle of the kitchen — about 5 feet from the stove — at counter height. I took a reading before the oven or air fryer was turned on. I took another reading halfway through the cooking time and the last one at the end of the cooking time. Between the two sessions, I waited for the kitchen to return to a resting temperature before starting the next one. 

The big oven made my kitchen 12 degrees hotter than the air fryer

oven open

Ovens have more capacity than air fryers but it’s still rarely worth it to heat the house up during summer.


As I suspected, my oven heated the kitchen far more than the air fryer. Midway through the recipes (15 minutes), the oven raised the temperature of my kitchen by 15 degrees from 71 F to too-hot 88 F.

After 10 minutes of cooking with the air fryer on 375 F, the temperature in my kitchen had gone up only 5 degrees F, from 72 F to a pleasant 77 F. While you can feel the emanating from the air fryer if you stand close enough, it’s not enough to significantly change the temperature of the kitchen. 

Read more: Here’s How to Keep Your Kitchen Cool (and Lower Your Energy Bill) During a Heatwave

Not only did the air fryer cause less of a temperature spike, but I only needed to have it running for roughly 20 minutes with one minute of preheat time. The oven took 30 minutes to cook the chicken and 6 minutes to preheat.

Using the air fryer will cut down on energy bills

Setting oven temperature to 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

Even modern ovens use significantly more energy than an air fryer.

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During a heatwave, your air conditioner is already working hard. Heating the kitchen up with your oven will only require them to work harder, using more energy to bring the room back down to your desired temperature. For the AC to make up the difference for one 20- or 30-minute cooking session with an oven, it may not be a total budget-buster. But spread that out over time or for longer cooking sessions and using the oven during hot months can have real fiscal ramifications. For more on this, read my breakdown of exactly how much more an oven costs to run than an air fryer.

What can you make in an air fryer?

roasted chicken on cutting board

Roasted chicken in the air fryer is dynamite and takes less time than in the large oven.

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An air fryer can do almost any cooking job that an oven can, although air fryers are typically smaller than wall ovens so you can’t cook as much in one go. 

I’ve been tinkering with the air fryer a lot this year I discovered the joy of cooking whole chickens in the air fryer, filets of salmon and even bacon cheeseburgers. The air fryer goes well beyond its reputation for cooking crispy wings and french fries. You can make dinner party-level recipes in the air fryer without breaking a sweat, literally.

Here are seven foods that I only make in the air fryer now not just because they keep my kitchen cooler but because the results are as good or better than other methods. And here’s our complete guide to air fryers, everyone’s favorite new kitchen appliance.