How to keep a kitchen warm without heating – 11 tips from designers and heating specialists

A warm and cozy kitchen is something we all aspire to, but constantly running your kitchen’s heating can be expensive and energy-intensive. The good news is, with some creative tips and tricks, you can keep your kitchen feeling warm and inviting even without cranking up the thermostat. We asked experienced kitchen designers, architects, and heating experts to share their top tips for heating a kitchen without conventional heating methods. From smart layouts and trapping heat to taking advantage of natural light and retaining warmth, read on for 11 expert-backed ways to create a toasty kitchen without a heater.

Carefully consider kitchen layout and design

Your kitchen’s layout and design can have a big impact on how warm it feels. Here are some layout and design tips for maximizing warmth in your kitchen:

Opt for an open-concept kitchen

An open-concept kitchen connected to a dining room or living room allows warmth to circulate freely between spaces. The shared heat makes the whole area feel warmer. Try knocking down walls separating your kitchen from other well-heated rooms.

Avoid placing the kitchen against cold exterior walls

Kitchens placed on cold, uninsulated exterior walls and corners tend to get chilly. Opt for an interior or protected location in your home for the warmest kitchen.

Install energy-efficient windows

High-performance windows better insulate your kitchen from outside cold. Look for Energy Star rated windows with multiple panes, low-emissivity coatings, insulating gas fills, and insulated frames. South-facing windows allow in natural warmth.

Add a compact layout

A compact, galley-style kitchen has less surface area to lose heat than an expansive, open-concept design. The smaller space warms up faster and retains warmth more effectively. Just beware cramped galley kitchens can lack airflow.

Zone your kitchen

Position appliances that produce heat like ovens, dishwashers, and refrigerators together in one zone. This allows you to heat just a portion of your kitchen. Avoid placing heat-generating appliances next to exterior walls where heat will escape.

Retain heat in your kitchen

Preventing heat loss is key to keeping your kitchen cozy without conventional heating. Follow these tips to retain warmth:

Insulate walls, ceilings and floors

Insulation creates a barrier to prevent heat loss. Ensure exterior walls, ceilings, floors, foundations, and any gaps like ducts are fully insulated. Top up wall insulation to the recommended level for your climate zone.

Reduce drafts

Drafts can suck warmth from a kitchen. Seal any cracks and gaps around windows, doors, wiring, plumbing and vents with caulk or weatherstripping. Stop drafts under exterior doors with draft stoppers. Close floor vents in unused rooms.

Install storm windows

Storm windows create an insulating layer of air between the storm window and your regular window glass. This cuts down on chilling drafts. Install exterior or interior storm windows for maximum heat retention.

Close kitchen doors

Leaving kitchen doors wide open allows precious warm air to escape. Get in the habit of keeping doors closed to contain heat in the kitchen.

Add insulated curtains and blinds

Windows cause heat loss. Mitigate this with thick insulated curtains, roman blinds and roll-down insulating shades. Close them at dusk to keep warm kitchen air in and cold night air out.

Use rugs and runners

Bare floors can make a kitchen feel chilly. Layering rugs and runners adds warmth underfoot and helps retain heat. Natural fiber rugs like wool are best.

Trap heat effectively

Trapping heat already in your kitchen is an easy, passive way to boost warmth. Employ these savvy heat-trapping techniques:

Let sunshine in

Allow copious sunshine into your kitchen during the day, and close curtains or blinds at night. Sunshine is free heat, and south-facing windows collect the most light and solar warmth.

Zone with furniture

Arrange kitchen furniture like islands, cabinets and tables to zone off and contain heat in the kitchen’s eating/cooking area. Avoid blocking warm air vents.

Install a pellet stove

Compact, ventless pellet stoves provide concentrated radiant heat. Position one in a drafty spot in your kitchen to warm up the space without ductwork. Always follow safety precautions.

Layer textiles

Fabrics add natural insulation. Layer wool or cotton throws, plush rugs, soft window treatments, and upholstered furniture to trap heat.

Cuddle up with pets

If you have furry friends at home, encourage them to lounge in your kitchen. Pets radiate body heat that will make your kitchen feel toastier.

Cook up some warmth

Cooking, baking, and even boiling a kettle releases warmth into your kitchen. Consider it a fringe benefit of home cooking!

Take advantage of natural light

Natural light can go a long way in making a space feel warmer and cozier. Here are some ways to maximize light:

Choose light finishes

Paint your kitchen walls and ceilings bright, light colors like white, ivory or pale yellow to reflect light. Glossy finishes also amplify light.

Add glass doors and partitions

Glass is amazing for allowing light to pass through. Add glass doors or interior glass partitions to kitchen openings to distribute natural light.

Include large windows

Maximize window size, especially south-facing ones, to usher in natural light. Keep windows clutter-free and top up insulation to prevent heat loss.

Install skylights

Skylights funnel natural light into the core of a home. Position them near dark kitchen spots far from windows. Opt for double-glazed skylights to retain heat.

Add more lighting

Supplement natural light with ample LED lighting. Task lighting, accent lighting, under-cabinet lighting and pendants all brighten up a kitchen.

Reflect light with mirrors

Mirrors creatively amplify and distribute natural light. Place strategically to open up small, dark kitchens. Avoid above workstations to prevent glare.

Pick light cabinetry

Light-colored cabinetry keeps a small kitchen feeling airy and illuminated. White, off-white, light grey and wheat cabinetry are smart light-reflecting choices.

Take advantage of heat from appliances

Your kitchen likely contains appliances that throw off heat as they operate. Put that free warmth to use:

Let your refrigerator share its heat

While refrigerators release cold air up front, their motors and condensers emit heat out the back and sides. Place your fridge in an open, central spot so heat can circulate freely.

Install your oven near seating

As your oven and range cook, they give off radiant heat. Position your oven near kitchen table seating to take advantage. Avoid nesting hot appliances in corners.

Let your dishwasher warm plates

Running a load in your dishwasher releases heat. For warm plates, open briefly before setting your table to vent out steam then unload dishes.

Use small appliances

Turning on small appliances like air fryers, instant pots, toaster ovens, coffee makers and mixers all generate ambient heat. Group these items in one toasty spot.

Run large appliances during the day

Schedule baking, oven roasting, laundering, dishwashing and other heat-releasing appliance tasks for daytime hours. The excess warmth can supplement your kitchen’s overall temperature.

Upgrade your ventilation

While ventilation whisks away precious warm air, new-age ventilation systems recapture heat:

Install heat recovery ventilation

HRV systems extract heat from outgoing stale air and transfer it to the incoming fresh air stream. This preserves heat while still ventilating.

Choose recirculating range hoods

Range hoods that simply filter and recirculate kitchen air rather than venting outside preserve heat already in your kitchen.

Use passive cooling in summer

In warm months, smart shading and ventilation cools your kitchen without A/C. This offsets winter heat retention so you stay comfortable year-round.

Consider supplemental heat sources

On especially cold days or in chronically chilly kitchens, compact supplemental heat sources can provide a boost:

Add a slimline radiator

Hydronic or electric slimline radiators mount discreetly on walls. They heat up quickly and provide targeted warmth right where you need it.

Install underfloor heating

While pricier to put in, underfloor heating pipes or electric coils provide gentle, enveloping warmth. Renovations are a good time to add this.

Place a freestanding heater

Portable electric convection or radiant heaters offer adjustable spot heating. Use them only when occupied, positioning away from windows and moisture.

Swap in infrared heat lamps

Infrared heat lamps or panels installed in ceilings or high on walls provide directed warmth you can feel quickly. Use for brief sessions.

Upgrade your wood stove

Modern wood stoves burn cleaner and more efficiently than old stoves. Position one centrally to distribute its ambient and radiant heat.

Change habits for a warmer kitchen

Simple changes in how you use your kitchen can also help it retain heat:

Cook in batches

Batch cooking maximizes appliance heat. Make extra portions and freeze for later, or meal prep for the week. Cluster cooking tasks to use residual warmth.

Enjoy more hot dishes

Incorporate soups, stews, baked goods, warm sandwiches and hot breakfasts into your meal plans. Hot food warms you from the inside out.

Close doors ASAP

Get in the routine scanning your kitchen before leaving to ensure all doors and windows are shut tight. This contains the heat you’ve accumulated.

Run full loads

Only run kitchen appliances when fully loaded to maximize the amount of heat they release. Air dry dishes instead of heat drying.

Creating a warm kitchen without conventional heating

With some clever layout decisions, heat-trapping techniques, and upgrades to increase efficiency, you can keep your kitchen feeling downright cozy without constantly running the heat. Employ a combination of these tips to warm up your space and cut down on energy costs. Giving your kitchen a fresh coat of bright, light colored paint or adding a sunlight-reflecting pendant light can also help produce a warming effect. With a bit of strategic planning, it’s absolutely possible to achieve a livably toasty kitchen using little or no heat. Get creative in finding ways to contain, reflect and supplement warmth from existing sources like the sun, your appliances, cookware and even your own body heat. Before long, you may even find yourself turning the thermostat down lower than expected! What’s your top tip for gently heating a kitchen without cranking up the boiler?

Frequently Asked Questions About Warming a Kitchen Without Conventional Heating

What’s the most affordable way to heat a kitchen without central heat?

Some of the most affordable ways to add heat to a kitchen without conventional central heating include using small space heaters, taking advantage of heat given off by appliances and fixtures like refrigerators and lights, cooking hot meals regularly, and letting sunshine in through south-facing windows.

Should you close doors to keep kitchen warm?

Yes, closing doors to a kitchen is an effective way to retain heat in the room. Shutting kitchen, hallway, and closet doors prevents warm air from escaping and cooler air from entering the kitchen. Get in the habit of closing doors to trap heat.

Should you leave kitchen cabinets open to warm kitchen?

Leaving kitchen cabinets and closet doors open can help release heat trapped near the ceiling so it circulates and warms up your kitchen. Stale heat gathers in corners and upper areas while lower zones stay cool. Open shelving also promotes airflow.

What is the best paint color to keep a kitchen warm?

The best paint colors for a warm kitchen are pale, light hues like white, cream, light yellow and soft grey. Light colors reflect back the most natural and artificial light, making kitchens feel bright and airy which gives a warmer impression. Darker paint colors tend to feel colder.

Which direction should kitchen windows face to be warm?

South facing kitchen windows allow in the most natural sunlight during the day to provide passive solar heating. West-facing windows get nice afternoon sun. Large windows facing south or west warm up a kitchen nicely but should be double-glazed.

How can I insulate my kitchen cheaply?

Some budget-friendly ways to better insulate your kitchen include sealing any air leaks with caulk/weatherstripping, adding draft stoppers under doors, installing temporary window insulation like peel-and-stick plastic film, using insulating window curtains, and covering bare floors with area rugs. Even small fixes cut heat loss.


Creating a warm, comfortable kitchen without constantly running your heater is very achievable. Making smart design choices like opting for a compact, well-insulated layout and letting in ample natural light paired with heat-trapping techniques like sealing drafty windows, adding curtains, and cooking hot meals are effective starters. Top up with small portable heaters or uptake appliance heat. With creativity and some simple upgrades, you can reinvent your kitchen as a naturally warmer, cozier space that functions beautifully without a permanently powered-on heater.