New York City winters can be simultaneously magical and trying. The twinkle lights on every street are lovely, but it’s dark and cold by 4 PM. Ice skating in Central Park can be a dream come true, but wading through an icy puddle on the way to your subway is anything but. With the city streets often inhospitable during winter, New Yorkers spend more time at home than during any other time of year, so we need that time at home to be always magical, never trying! To that end, here are our winter home tips to keep you cozy all season long.
1. Learn who is responsible for heating your NYC home.
The answer to this is simple: whoever owns the property is responsible for heating it. For millions of renters in NYC, this means a lack of control over the thermostat at home. Fortunately, New York has specific laws and regulations to ensure all tenants have adequate heat when the temperatures dip outside. “Heat Season,” as it is called, spans from October 1st through May 31st. During this time, landlords must keep every unit at a minimum of 68 degrees during the day and 62 degrees at night. Failing to do so means facing considerable fines. However, there is no maximum heat regulation. Since heating is required by law, you are much more likely to experience overheating in the winter than you are to experience freezing indoors. Conversely, if you own your home, you will likely want to conserve heat since you have full control over your thermostat, as well as the bill that comes with it.
2. If your heater is too hot:
Open a window: The most simple and cost-effective solution to this New York City winter over-heating dilemma is to open a window. Obviously, this can create a draft which may be less than ideal, in which case we recommend you try using a fan (yes, even though it’s winter!). Don’t put that portable fan you used all summer into storage, it may offer just the breeze you need in your overheated NYC apartment, even on the coldest days of the year.
3. If your heater is not hot enough:
If you rent your home and the heat falls below the required 68/62 degrees, the best winter home tip is to call 311 and make a report. If your heat is at the required temperature but you still find yourself freezing—or if you own your NYC home and are trying to save money—invest in a space heater. It’s also highly recommended that you insulate and seal any drafty windows in your home with a simple solution that’s affordable and easily removable: window insulation kits are easy to find online or at your neighborhood hardware store, as are space heaters. The only thing you need to affix them to your windows is a hair dryer! Bonus: they can also help with soundproofing.
4. What about all your winter gear?
Winter gear can be bulky and take up lots of (likely limited) closet space. Keep your winter gear at the entrance of your home by hanging a shelf with hooks, giving you all the benefits of a coat rack while keeping floor space available below. You’ll want a boot tray in that floor space to avoid bringing sludge, snow, and salt into your home. We also recommend stylish storage bins on the top of your shelf as a place to keep frequently-needed but often misplaced items such as gloves, hats, mittens, and scarves.
5. What about how dark it is?
Invest in efficient and mood enhancing lighting because wintertime is dark in the city that never sleeps. When the sun begins to set shortly after 4 PM, it’s the time of year to switch all overhead light bulbs to energy efficient models that cast a warm, flattering glow. Add floor lamps in addition to overhead lighting to allow for a variety of options as you transition from bright mornings to cozy evenings.
6. Carefully consider removing any air conditioners.
Leaving an air conditioner in your window all winter will let in cold air, which can actually be a blessing if your New York apartment suffers from the overheating mentioned above. Removing an air conditioner from most New York City buildings is notably dangerous. You may be hoping for easy ways to take out your air conditioner, but in NYC, you must consider the real risk of the unit falling from the window. Our best advice is to leave this task to professionals. Ask your building super to assist or hire Cool Air NYC who will remove the unit, clean it, and store it until summer for around $300.
7. Who is responsible for shoveling snow in NYC?
The answer here is the same as who is responsible for heat: whoever owns the property is responsible for keeping all stairways and associated sidewalks clear of ice and snow. So renters, rejoice and include a nice tip in that holiday card for your super. Homeowners, keep abreast of the specific sidewalk snow regulations on nyc.gov and have your shovels and salt at the ready, or leave the shoveling to a professional. Per the official website of the city of New York, if snowfall ends:
- Between 7 AM and 4:59 PM, sidewalks must be cleared within 4 hours.
- Between 5 PM and 8:59 PM, sidewalks must be cleared within 14 hours.
- Between 9 PM and 6:59 AM, sidewalks must be cleared by 11 AM.
8. Get a festive (and functional) winter doormat.
It will bring cheer to your neighbors and save your boot tray from bearing the full brunt of the city streets.
9. If you are able to decorate outside, go big!
Apartment dwellers who can only decorate the inside of their homes are living vicariously through New Yorkers who put on a spectacular holiday display on the outside of their homes!