How to Make Your Hot Apartment More Bearable in Winter

  • 01 of 05

    Got a Superheated Steam Radiator?

    Steam radiator
    Getty Images

    It’s freaking cold outside. And yet inside your apartment your ancient radiators are so baking hot you’re sweating through your shorts.

    Luckily, you don't have to put up with the sweltering conditions your building's prehistoric heating system creates.

    These smart ideas will show you how to make that hothouse you live in more comfortable.

    Continue to 2 of 5 below.
  • 02 of 05

    Why Your Apartment is Too Hot in Winter

    NYC apartment with Steam Radiator

    For many apartment dwellers who don't have thermostats, getting the indoor temperature just right in winter can be challenging.

    What gives?

    If you have steam radiators, you can blame your building's old-school heating system for getting you all hot and bothered.

    In a nutshell, one and two pipe systems like these were built when fuel costs were cheap so wasting energy wasn't a big deal. In fact, opening up windows to cool down overheated spaces was a part of steam heating's original design and operation according to a study by the Center for Energy Environment.

    So why doesn’t your super dial down the thermostat?

    Steam heating systems are notorious for distributing heat unevenly. While some apartments like yours get too hot, others in the same building may be so chilly that they barely meet the minimum local heat requirements. 

    Continue to 3 of 5 below.
  • 03 of 05

    Take Control Your Piping Hot Radiator

    thermostatic radiator valve
    Getty Images

    If you've fiddled with that round knob on your old radiator to adjust the temperature, you may have figured out it's just a dial that turns the heat on and off.

    However, you can purchase a device that allows you to control how hot your radiator gets.

    If you have a one-pipe steam radiator, you can install a thermostatic radiator valve. It adjusts room temperature by using air to reduce or increase the amount of steam that warms your radiator.. This video shows how to install. 

    If you have a two-pipe steam, you’ll need a high capacity thermostatic radiator actuator. It precisely controls how hot your radiator gets by modulating the flow of steam.

    Tip: If you're confused about which device you need to buy or how to install, speak with your super. 

    Continue to 4 of 5 below.
  • 04 of 05

    Block Your Radiator's Heat

    Cool down a hot radiator using a blanket
    A blanket or sheet will block a radiator's heat. Paul Morris

    The hotter a steam radiator gets, the more warmth it radiates.  Covering it up with a blanket or sheet is an old-timey solution for limiting the amount of heat a radiator gives off.

    Is this safe to do? Experts say yes. 

    Steam radiators can warm up to 215 degrees F. But fortunately, that's not hot enough to ignite a fire. 

    Some synthetic fabrics like fleece may melt if placed on a piping hot radiator for several hours.  A better choice would be a wool blanket. The fabric is naturally flame resistant up to 600 degrees F. 

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Fan the Heat

    Ceiling Fan
    Getty Images

    If you have a ceiling fan and double-hung windows, here's how you can get some relief from your radiator's stifling heat.

    Hot air rises. The best way to let some of it escape is to open the top half of your windows several inches. 

    Next, switch on your ceiling fan to accelerate the cool down process. The downdraft it creates will cool off your hot room while pushing heated air up so it can escape out the window.

    Does your ceiling fan run in both directions? Counterclockwise is the standard setting for cooling down rooms. 

    Want to warm up a heated space? Run your ceiling fan using a low clockwise setting so it can distribute the hot air that floated up to the ceiling.