Why Is My Apartment So Hot?

No matter what part of the country you live in, during the summer, your apartment can get HOT.  REALLY HOT!  But you have the air conditioner running when you are home and it still doesn’t seem to be doing the job.  What’s the deal? 

Apartments, especially top floor apartments can get extremely hot in the summer.  This is due to lack of airflow in the apartment, clogged or closed vents, a lack of coolant in the A/C unit, or full sun coming in for many hours during the day. 

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There are a TON of things you can do to keep your apartment cool.  In this article, I am going to go through WHY your apartment seems to get hot and not cool down, and the things you can do to prevent it from getting hot in the first place, and cooling it down when it does. 

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Why Is My Apartment Always Hot?

The first thing to remember is that keeping your apartment cool is the first step.  Once you get it get to 80 degrees or above, it is going to take a long time to cool it down again, even if you have the A/C running full blast.  This is because the walls, floors, and ceilings are going to trap and store that heat throughout the day, and even from other apartments around you.  The best thing to do is to ensure that your apartment doesn’t get hot in the first place. 

If you live on an upper floor, do not turn the A/C down sufficiently, cover your windows from thermal heating, and make sure you have good airflow throughout your apartment, chances are, you are going to have a warm apartment. 

If your apartment is always hot and seems to stay hot no matter what you do, chances are, you are trying to depend on the A/C unit to be a magic box that keeps your apartment cool no matter what else is going on.  

Cooking inside during the summer, especially using the stove or the oven, is going to pump a TON of heat into your apartment.  This is just more heat energy that the A/C has to pump right back out again.  

Additionally, if your filters are dirty and clogged, not only are they preventing air from flowing through your apartment, but they are making your air conditioner work harder as well.  Changing your air filter is easy, and is usually right behind a panel on your furnace.  

Ask your landlord or maintenance guy for a new filter, most times they will just give you them for free because it saves wear and tear on the furnace and air conditioner when there is good airflow. 

Your apartment may also be suffering simply due to the side of the building it is on.  South-facing and West-facing apartments are going to get the most sunlight, and thus the most heat, during the hot summer months.  Doing things like making sure you have good airflow, especially during the hot times of the day, and drapes or blinds the block out the sunlight are going to be crucial in keeping the temperature inside your apartment manageable. 

The last thing you should look at in your apartment is your vents.  Make sure that all of your vents are open so that all the rooms are getting good circulation.  This is called “Air Balancing”.   When you have good airflow, all the rooms in your apartment should be the same temperature.  If they aren’t, chances are you have bad air circulation and simply checking your vents and returns can be a quick solution to this problem. 

Below, I will walk you through the tips I give my own tenants when the complain to me about how hot their apartment is.  Every apartment that has ever complained about the heat, we have been able to bring their temperature down to where they want it to with these solutions. 

Is An Apartment On The Top Floor Hotter?

Generally, a higher floor apartment is going to be hotter than a lower apartment because the heat from all the apartments below it rises through the floor and heats up the apartment from below.  While this is beneficial in the winter, it can be an annoyance in the summer. 

Having free heat come through the floors is GREAT in the winter when you are trying to stay warm.  The extra heat from your neighbors below you are going to give you a nice little advantage when it comes to heating your apartment. 

But when the summer months roll around, all that extra heat is heat that you are going to have to get rid of yourself to keep your apartment cool.   

So, how do you do that? 

Well, because you are in a higher floor apartment, that means that there is less friction from the ground, trees, and other buildings on the air, which is going to give you a nice consistent breeze when you need it.  

Because of this, opening your windows and letting the air blow through is one of the best ways to keep a higher floor apartment cool.  Once you have good airflow through the apartment, THEN turn the A/C on, but don’t make it pump out more heat than it needs to.  Not only will your apartment take longer to cool down, but your electrical bill will be much higher that way as well.   

Let the natural air cool off your apartment as much as you can before cranking the A/C. 

Why Is My Apartment So Hot At Night?

Apartments can stay hot throughout the night because of all the heat that it stored in the walls, floor, and ceiling during the day.  All of this heat must be removed before the apartment will cool down, and it takes many hours for this process to work.  

This is why it is so important to limit the amount of heat that is stored in your apartment during the hot day hours.  

Think about it like the seasons.  We have our hottest month in August, which is 2 months after we are getting the most sunlight energy from the sun.  This is because it takes a bit of time to heat the earth up, and then to cool it down again in the fall.  

The same concept applies to your apartment.  It takes a bit for your apartment to heat up in the morning hours because of the cool air present and the walls have cooled off a bit during the night.  But even after the sun goes down, your apartment can stay hot, or get even hotter due to the heat it has stored up all day long.  

This is why your apartment doesn’t cool down until sometime in the middle of the night.  

Follow these solutions below to keep your apartment as cool as you like it. 

How To Cool Off Your Apartment

Apartment School recommends these solutions for cooling your hot apartment: 

  • Get A Smart Thermostat

Smart Thermostats are the future, there is no doubt about it.  These things came out a few years ago, and as more manufactures join the game, the price is going to continue to fall.  

A Smart Thermostat will learn your habits, keep track of the temperature of your apartment, and be the most efficient at both keeping your apartment cool in the summer and warm in the winter, as well as saving you money by running your system only when it needs it. 

To top it all off, you can control the temperature of your place even when you’re not home through the convenience of the app each thermostat comes with.  

This Honeywell model isn’t too expensive and does everything you need it to do.  Additionally, the latest NEST model, which you may have seen on TV works AMAZING speaking from personal experience and the design is something that is super attractive to put on any wall.   

IMPORTANT!  Want to get your thermostat for FREE??  Check out the rebates your power company has on their website.  They want as many people as possible to have these Smart Thermostats because it saves energy!  This means the power plants don’t have to run as hard, especially during peak usage times. 

Look up the rebate coupon on your power company’s website, and then just Click HERE to order your thermostat!

  • Replace The Air Filters In Your Furnace

A clogged or dirty filter is going to prevent air from moving freely throughout your apartment.  On top of that, it is going to cause the air conditioner and furnace to work harder than it needs to, which are going to increase your heating and cooling costs and give you poor service at the same time.  A double whammy.  

Furnace filters are relatively inexpensive.   All you need to do before ordering some is check which size of filter your furnace needs. 

QUICK TIP:  Ask your landlord to have the maintenance guy bring you a fresh filter when you see it becoming dirty.  Most landlords are going to want to put a new filter in every few months anyways to take stress off their equipment, so you asking for one is usually doing them a favor.  

This can be one of the quickest and most effective ways at getting your apartment cooler. 

  • Cool Your Bedding

We spend a TON of time in our bedrooms, no matter where we live.  About 1/3 of our lives is spent in the bedroom and if you are hot, that means that you are living too much of your life in unnecessary misery. 

Cooling Bedding are things like sheets, blankets, and pillows that are meant to wick moisture and heat away and allow you to stay as cool as possible in your bed. 

I cannot recommend enough that you check these products out.  Regardless of which brand you end up buying, you will not regret the benefit your sleep and your comfort will be from the heat.   

Check out a line of different Cooling Bed products HERE

  • Shade Your Apartment

If you happen to have an apartment that has a South or West facing window or porch or balcony, chances are, you are getting a lot of solar heating during the daytime hours. 

If you are leaving your drapes or blinds open, that means that every ray of sunlight that is getting through to your apartment is warming it up.  The best thing to do is close your blinds and shades as much as possible during the day. 

The less your air conditioner has to make up when you come home at the end of the day the cooler your apartment is going to stay. 

  • Cook With The Windows Open

Cooking inside your apartment is the fastest way of putting more heat into the system.  In the wintertime, this extra heat is a bonus, but in the summer, it just makes life all that much harder. 

If you can, refrain from baking.  Heating up your oven is going to keep all that latent heat in your apartment for hours to come.  Try to just use your stove top, and sparingly at that. 

When you ARE cooking inside your apartment, make sure you have the windows open on BOTH sides of your unit, so the air can flow freely and disperse outside.  A fan or two will help you keep the air moving around as well. 

  • Open Your Windows At Night

Depending on how hot it is at night, opening your windows can be a great way of cooling your apartment down for the lowest cost. 

Because the earth radiates heat back into space in the infrared spectrum at night, it cools its surface off.  You can take advantage of the times when the sun isn’t beating down on your apartment as well. 

Open at least 2 windows, one on each side of the apartment so the air can move freely between rooms.  Again, a fan is a great addition to this system to keep the air moving even faster, cooling your apartment down quicker.  

Look for those dray, cloudless nights as potential nights to open your windows and let nature cool your apartment down for you for free. 

  • Buy or Make Your Own Simple Swamp/Evaporation Air Cooler

Swamp Coolers are something that have gone out of style due to the efficiency of modern air conditioners, but the same principle and the same benefits can still be derived from this simple system. 

First, grab a fan, preferably a box fan.  Then just sit a big bowl of ice in front of the box fan and watch how quickly your apartment starts to cool down. 

The air from the fan gets cooled going over the ice, and quickly transfers that cool air around your apartment.  If you have an A/C that’s on the fritz, or just want a little bit of extra cooling, this is a fairly cheap method to cooling your apartment down again. 

  • Use LED Lights Instead Of Incandescent Bulbs

LED bulbs put out WAY less heat than incandescents.  About 100 times less.  And they last 20 times longer than incandescents as well.  

In short, these bulbs are worth their weight in gold!

Instead of having old technology heat up your apartment unnecessarily, put some new tech in your apartment, and watch both the savings on electrical costs and heat, go down!

  • Have Your Maintenance Guy Check The Coolant In Your A/C

If you really do have a serious issue with you’re A/C, and you’ve already tried changing the filter, your A/C unit could be low on coolant.  Call your maintenance guy to have him come check it out.  If he agrees, then they will call a heating and cooling company to come out and look at the unit for you.  

Until then, explore some of the other solutions I have put above for you to keep your apartment cool!

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John Boettcher

Co-Founder of Apartment School and a previous renter turned owner of many multi-family properties across the United States, with many years of experience in all aspects of the apartment, real estate, and investing world.

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