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Dear Jim: My kitchen has an old noisy range hood and it looks old fashioned. I would like one that has several speeds and is easy to clean. What are my options and which of the styles are most effective? - Jan E.
A: The newest range hoods are quieter, more effective and convenient to use. With today's more energy efficient, airtight homes, it is important to exhaust cooking fumes, grease, odors, etc. for good indoor air quality. These can quickly buildup in a kitchen without adequate ventilation.
Many newer range hoods also can be attractive additions to a kitchen. They are decorative with contemporary contours, metal or painted finishes, glass covers, lights, etc. Believe it or not, some fancy ones cost as much as $15,000, but you can still find decorative, effective ones from $100 to $200.
On the other end of the style spectrum are ones that are hidden when not in use. They either pop up from behind the range or fold back into cabinets above the range.
The key to effective and quiet operation of a range hood is exhausting just the right amount of air. An air flow of just 50 cubic feet per minute (cfm) per lineal foot of the range top is usually adequate. With a new quiet range hood, you can easily talk on the telephone near one running.
Choose a model with several fan speeds for more flexibility and control of the noise level and indoor air quality. When you are just boiling some water or doing other light cooking, the maximum exhaust air flow is not required. On low speed, the fan noise level is about one-tenth as when on high speed.
A three-speed fan is usually adequate, but some expensive models offer variable speeds. A nice feature to consider is an extra super-high boost speed. It is noisier at this speed level, but it comes in handy if you burn something on the stove or the food aromas get too strong.
There are also important differences in the fan design. Squirrel cage types of blowers are usually quieter and more powerful than simple, lower-cost fan blades. They also use less electricity for a given amount of air flow.
The centrifugal action of the blower tends to sling grease droplets in the air into the filter so less builds up in the hood and duct. You can remove the filter periodically and wash it in the dishwasher. Some range hood models also use a teflon coating on the interior for very easy cleaning.
Some features to consider are digital touchpad controls. An auto-off feature allows you to leave the kitchen and the blower will gradually slow and stop after five minutes. Built-in efficient night lights are great around children who tend to leave lights one. Warming trays are also convenient.
Instant Download Update Bulletin No. 914 - buyer's guide of six quiet/efficient range vent hood manufacturers (18 models) listing styles (canopy, tilt-out, slide-out, island) updraft or downdraft types, sizes, noise levels listed in sones, widths available, speeds, air flows, features, cooking efficiency tips, illustrations and descriptions of various models.
Dear Jim: I am planning to have a new roof installed on my house. I was thinking about using light-colored shingles this time to keep the house cooler. Does this make sense and will they get the dark streaks? - Steve B.
A: Light-colored shingles will reflect much more of the sun's heat than dark ones. They must be very light, almost white, to make a significant difference. Just lighter brown or rust colors will not help much.
If you keep your roof reasonably clean and it gets some sun, dark stains from mildew should not develop. If they do, stretch a copper wire along the peak of the roof. This will give off copper ions which retard mildew.