Sure, you can throw on a sweater when things get chilly at home. But what can you do if your apartment feels like an oven when the temperature drops? If you live in an older NYC apartment, you may have noticed that no matter how cold it gets outside, inside your dwelling feels excruciatingly hot and dry. What can you do if you have an overheated NYC apartment this winter? These tips will help you cool down.

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    Understanding How Your Apartment Is Heated

    If you live in an older apartment building, chances are your building uses steam heating. According to a city report, more than 80% of large multifamily buildings still use steam heating systems. These systems are inefficient and old and often distribute heat unevenly throughout the building, resulting in an overheated apartment. Also, landlords might simply be turning up the heat to ensure all the apartments in the building are getting to the required temperature. As a result, your well-heated apartment could be well above that temperature!

    On top of that, your apartment is being heated precisely the way it was meant to be: that is, overheated. This view dates back to the 1900s when health experts encouraged NYC residents to keep their windows open for fresh air no matter how cold the temperature outside. Today, of course, we realize what a huge waste of energy this is.

    If you can’t control the heat in your building or convince your landlord to cool it, then it’s time for a quick fix. Here are seven renter-friendly methods to cool your overheated NYC apartment in the winter. 

    Open the Windows to Release Some Heat

    This seems like an obvious solution, but it can help. It does have drawbacks, though: Heating comes in waves, so while you may go to sleep nice and cozy, you could wake up with chattering teeth. Opening a window also may not always solve the problem, as the radiator can simply overpower the cool air.

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    Turn the Heat Off in Your Overheated NYC Apartment

    You may have noticed that your heater has a knob on its side. This valve doesn’t control the heat (as many people assume) but does allow you to turn the heater itself off. (Though, of course, steam will still be traveling through the steam pipes in the room, contributing significant warmth.) If you choose this solution, make sure you turn the knob all the way off, or your radiator might clang.

    Install a Thermostatic Valve or Vent

    If you’re willing to dish out cash for a small upgrade, you can call a professional to install a thermostatic radiator valve that gives you control over the amount of heat generated. The valve is generally inexpensive, but a proper installation can run several hundred dollars. Still, that might be worth it in the long run especially if you plan to stay in your overheated NYC apartment for years to come. You can also ask your landlord to cover some or all of the cost, though we can’t guarantee they will.

    Use a Fan to Cool Down Your Overheated NYC Apartment

    Fans aren’t just for summer! Use a fan to move stagnant air around your apartment and disperse some of the heat. Place the box fan in front of a window to create a draft, and a (hopefully) cool breeze will help counteract the radiator’s power.

    You can also use your ceiling fan in the winter to help mitigate the heat. Ceiling fans that spin counterclockwise actually cool the room more than fans that spin clockwise. Luckily, you can reverse the rotation of your fan on your own. 

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    Invest in a Radiator Cover

    A radiator cover will set you back a few hundred dollars, but it’s a solution you can implement without having to call in the pros. A simpler solution is to cover the radiator’s top and sides with thick, unpainted wooden boards or other nonflammable materials, like a slab of marble. The idea is to insulate the heat, reducing the amount that escapes into your apartment.

    Cover the Radiator With Fabric to Cool Down

    It’s like a magic trick for an overheated apartment — simply cover the radiator with a piece of fabric. Is this safe? Experts agree that, surprisingly, it is. Typical radiators don’t go above around 215 degrees Fahrenheit, not enough to set fabric on fire. To be on the safe side, use wool or thick cotton fabric — synthetic materials like polyester might melt at this temperature. Still uncomfortable placing anything on your radiator? Buy a heat-resistant thermal fabric, which guarantees durability below a certain temperature.

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    Use a Humidifier to Combat Dry Air In Your Overheated NYC Apartment

    Overheating and dryness often go hand-in-hand. If your apartment is so dry that your knuckles are bleeding, a humidifier is a must. You can buy a cheap humidifier and place it near your bed, or you can use the radiator’s own heat to create a makeshift humidifier by placing a shallow bowl of water on the radiator. Just remember to refill it regularly — and marvel at how quickly your radiator evaporates an entire bowl of water.

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