Why Homeowners Don’t Use Range Hoods—and Why They Should

Home occupants are not using range hoods to control moisture, but “smart” range hoods will do this task automatically.
Mar 17, 2016 6:45 AM ET

Controlling moisture build-up in the home is one of the most important strategies for ensuring healthy indoor air. A continually moist environment harbors biological pollutants such as mold and dust mites, which can trigger asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Regular use of kitchen exhaust ventilation systems can help control moisture, yet, according to a study published by the Forum for Family and Consumer Issues (FFCI), most people don’t use range hoods for moisture control, but for other issues, such as smoke and odors. The study, titled Use of Kitchen Ventilation: Impact on Indoor Air Quality, found that noise is a major factor, as is homeowner ignorance about the importance of ventilating a modern home.

As part of a study of kitchen usage, the Center for Real Life Kitchen Design at Virginia Tech interviewed 78 households, asking many questions about when and how people use kitchen range hoods. The big three: noise, ignorance and belief that it’s “not necessary.”

The participants in the interview cooked regularly and frequently: 68 percent cooked complete meals five or more times per week and 97 percent prepared dinner on a regular basis.

The majority of participants (84 percent) had electric ranges, but most also owned a microwave oven. An interesting finding is that 32 percent used the microwave oven about the same as their range top, and 31 percent used the microwave oven more than the range top.