Tips For New Yorkers to Stay Cool During a Heat Wave

More than just being a nuisance, a heat wave can be harmful to your health. And with climate change causing rising temperatures, heat advisories during the summer are becoming the new normal. Here’s a heat advisory map for the U.S. 

Last week in New York, cooling centers—indoor, air-conditioned spaces for public use—opened up for use during the day. So it’s a great excuse to go on a day trip with the family or friends while beating the heat. 

The city’s fire department has also turned some fire hydrants into water sprinklers. (How fun!)

If you’re staying at home, here are some tips about how to stay cool (whether you have an air conditioner or not).

What Is The Ideal Indoor Temperature? 

  • If you can, keep your home temperature at 72 degrees Fahrenheit. 72 is generally the temperature that is comfortable for most people according to the latest research
  • If you are away from home, set your thermostat for a higher temperature, to save energy and prevent your AC unit from potentially bursting.
  • At night, when you are trying to sleep, put the temperature between 60-67 degrees so you don’t get woken up by the heat. This is the ideal temperature for sleep, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

How to Keep Your Pets Safe?  

What is the best way to keep your furry friends safe during a heat advisory? It depends on the pet’s size, health, and other factors. Yet in general, pets are less tolerant of the heat than humans. 

Dogs, the most common pet in America, tend to overheat at temperatures between 81-85 degrees according to the American Kennel Club. 

One way to keep your dog safe while you are away from home is to install a temperature alarm that will notify your phone if your AC fails. 

What Is the Best Way to Maintain Your AC Unit?

Experts ‌advise getting your AC unit serviced once a year. A technician will generally check the system for problems, clean it, and switch out the filter. 

You may even be able to change out the filter yourself, depending on the type of unit you have. It’s good to check your filter every two to three months. Certain factors can also affect how often you need to change it. If you have a pet, you may actually need to change the filter once a month because of shedding. It’s also important to know whether your AC is a window unit, floor-mounted, or other. Definitely make sure your system is off first before you do anything to it! Safety first!

What to Do if You Don’t Have AC?

  • Close your blinds or cover your windows to limit the amount of sunlight coming into your home. Also avoid dark fabrics for curtains that can attract heat. This goes for clothing as well. 
  • Stick-on solar film is also a cool option (literally). It can be bought online or at home improvement stores. It blocks infrared heat that would otherwise come through your window. 
  • Fans don’t technically cool the air, but they do create a breeze in your home that has a cooling effect. Make sure your ceiling fan is running counterclockwise so that the air is pushed downward. 
  • If you can obtain one, look into getting a portable AC unit. 
  • Avoid appliances that generate heat (as much as you can), such as stoves, ovens, dryers, or blow dryers. Try looking into meals that you can prep without your stove. 
  • Don’t have too many lights on, or at least not lights that are close together. 
  • Avoid thick covers and blankets. Look into fabric that is breathable, such as percale sheets. 

What Else Can I Do if My Apartment Is Unreasonably Hot?

New York City does not have air-conditioning requirements for rental apartments. Even though NYC landlords are legally required to provide heat and hot water, cool air is not required. Yet if you do live in an apartment that had AC when you moved in, NYC landlords are required to maintain and replace it if it is broken. 

What can tenants do if they need their landlord to fix the AC, but the landlord doesn’t want to? One suggestion is for the tenant to pay to replace the air conditioner themselves, and then to negotiate their rent, asking for the same amount for the upcoming year. Some tenants can also bring their landlord to court, but that is a time-consuming hassle. And of course, it’s always better to settle things civilly if you can before going that route, which is the last option in negotiation. 

If you would like to learn how to get a free air conditioner, check out our article here. And if you’d like some tips for saving money on putting central AC in your home, check out this link.


If you’re interested in learning about buying or selling in Brooklyn, download our free Buying Into Brooklyn Ebook or our Seller’s Guide. We share a ton of valuable resources to demystify the buying and selling process.

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