How to stay cool with no AC in your apartment

How can a New Yorker survive the summer heat without an AC? It's doable. Photo Credit: iStock

Surviving a city summer in an apartment without AC is truly a testament to a New Yorker’s grit and creativity.

How can a New Yorker survive the summer heat without an AC? It's doable.
How can a New Yorker survive the summer heat without an AC? It’s doable. Photo Credit: Marcus Santos for Newsday

Surviving a city summer in an apartment without AC is truly a testament to a New Yorker’s grit and creativity.

The city warned residents to seek out places with air-conditioning as a heat wave hits the city, bringing oppressive humidity and “feels like” temperatures above 100 degrees.

Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a heat emergency and an excessive heat warning has been issued from noon Friday through 8 p.m. Sunday. Peak heat index values are expected between 2 and 5 p.m., daily, the National Weather Service said.

Officials stress that central air is the most efficient way to stay cool, but what if you don’t have it? We have some tips that might help ease the pain.

Window blinds can do wonders.

Closing the blinds during the day will keep the sun from heating up your apartment. Even fluorescent lights can raise the temperature, so consider turning those off, too. Keep the air circulating during the evenings when the temps dip by opening your windows. 

Consider your fabrics.

Dark colors should be avoided not only in your clothing, but in your bedspreads, too. Stick to sheets in white, cream or pastel colors. Fabrics like cotton and linen, and pillows made with buckwheat, will also work to beat the heat.

If it gets really bad, try sleeping on the floor where it’s cooler — a bamboo floor mat is good a buffer for ground-sleepers.

Turn the fan around.

Point fans towards windows so they push the hot air out, instead of aiming them at yourself and adjust fan settings so they spin counterclockwise. This pushes the hot air up instead of spreading it around the room. 

Stock up on ice.

Put a bowl of ice in front of fans to create a cool breeze. Stuff your bed sheets and towels in the freezer — after putting them into bags to prevent them from smelling like frozen pizza. Your sheets will stay chilled long enough for you to doze off. Sleeping with frozen bottles helps, too.

Make small investments.

Now might be a good time to purchase a Chillow, a snazzy pad that stays cool with water circulation (You can find these for around $13). Cooling towels are also a great steal since they can stay cool for hours (around $15).

Find your body’s cool zones.

To keep yourself from feeling like you’re in the sauna, get to know some of your body’s cooling zones. Where there is a pulse, there is a way — to stay cool. Your wrists, neck and the inside of your elbows are good places to start. Apply an ice pack to these areas to cool down quicker. Dip your clean feet in an ice bath. When it’s time for bed, spread your body out like a bird to allow air to circulate.

Head to the pool.

For when a cold shower just doesn’t cut it, the city offers free public pools that will stay open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday to Sunday. Here’s where to find one near you.

The DOH also suggests finding cooling centers closest to you by calling 311 (TTY: 212-504-4115) or visiting the NYC Cooling Center Finder at

The city has activated some 500 cooling centers, including libraries, community centers and youth centers, that will be open through at least Sunday.

Extreme temperatures can cause the body to overheat and so, “The city’s Office of Emergency Management and the health department encourages New Yorkers to remain indoors, in an air-conditioned place and should check in on friends, family and neighbors such as the elderly and the very young who may be more vulnerable to heat,” DOH spokeswoman Carolina Rodriguez said.

Adeja Crearer