Handy Heat Help

If your building owner or management hasn’t scored a building maintenance touchdown your whole tenancy and isn’t ever going to make the Super Bowl of landlord customer service – you may have been left in the cold this winter.

Between October 1st and May 31st, “Heat Season,” building owners are must provide tenants with heat:

  • between the hours of 6am and 10pm if the outside temperature falls below 55 degrees. The inside temperature is required to be at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • between the hours of 10pm and 6am, if the temperature outside falls below 40 degrees. The inside temperature is required to be at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Some say curiosity and the cold killed the cat, so instead of waiting around for a solution while your heat is being fixed, be a New Yorker and take matters into your own hands. Here are out tips:


Curtain call
Thick curtains with a thermal lining are an easy and effective way to prevent heat from escaping through the windows. This simple door-it-yourself solution can also be applied to all outside-facing doors. The budget conscious can also use rugs, blankets and even shower curtains. Just remember to let the sun in during the day.


Sealing is believing
Double glazing isn’t always an option if you’re on a budget or just need an interim quick fix. There’s a special film you can put across single-glazed windows to imitate the same effect, albeit to a lesser degree. Attach the film to the window frame using double-sided tape and then fix it using a hairdryer. Be warned – it’s not a total win-win(dow) situation as opening the windows means you’ll break the seal. You can also use self-adhesive foam strips to seal any gaps in the edges of windows. Metal or plastic strips with brushes or wipers attached cost a bit more but will last longer and can also be used as draught excluders around the hinges and frames of doors.

Be floored by the results
Floorboards account for as much as 10% of heat loss if they’re not insulated, according to the National Energy Foundation (NEF). Carpets came for a reason! Rugs and blankets minimize heat loss and keep your feet warm. If there are cracks or gaps in the flooring it’s a good idea to squirt some filler into them. Floorboards and skirting boards can contract, expand or move slightly with everyday use, so use a filler that can tolerate movement (usually silicone-based).

Door the right thing
Keep doors closed to prevent cold air moving into the rest of the house and contain the heat you’ve generated in a smaller area.


Direct your heat
Putting a shelf above the radiator, especially if you have high ceilings, can also help direct the warmth, Just don’t place anything on it! This is especially needed for radiators under windows with curtain as the heat gets trapped in the space between the window and curtains.

A foil-proof outcome
Tin foil prevents unnecessary heat loss from radiators, especially those attached to external walls. Heat reflective aluminium foil behind the radiator prevents heat disappearing through the wall by reflecting it back into the room.

If you’re left in a cold craze, notify your building owner, managing agent or superintendent. If heat is still not restored, you should call NYC311 Customer Contact Center.

For commercial properties, the city Health Department has lowered the minimum temperature required in buildings from 68 to 65 degrees in an attempt to help businesses save on energy costs and burn less fuel collectively.

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