DENVER — Record-breaking heat is in the forecast for Friday and Coloradans living in apartments without air conditioning are struggling to stay cool.
Rena Jiang moved to the Capitol Hill neighborhood for college at the end of June. Her studio is located off Washington Street and 12th Avenue in a building built in 1924. She chose the apartment because it was affordable and close to school, but the recent heat has her trying to figure out how she’s going to survive the brutal summer that’s already broken records in Denver.
“It feels like a sauna,” Jiang said about her apartment. “When I was touring this apartment, there was an AC box and then I moved in and they took it away.”
Most housing built before the 1950s didn’t have central air because it was expensive and considered a luxury. Based on limited data, about 30% of homes in Denver lack air conditioning, and it’s typically older homes with lower-income residents, according to Winna MacLaren, a spokesperson with the city of Denver.
Residents living in some of the older buildings in the Capitol Hill neighborhood opt for a window air conditioner to keep their home cool, but for Jiang, it’s not in the budget. She uses a ceiling fan and a small fan she bought to try to stay cool but she said it mostly circulates hot air from outside.
As Colorado cranks up the heat, more residents now have a need for artificial cooling they didn't have before.
Denver7 Chief Meteorologist Mike Nelson said on average, Colorado has 15 more days every year of 95 degrees or hotter than it did 50 years ago.
Last month, Denver suffered through three straight days of triple-digit temperatures — the earliest heatwave on record.
Delton Jackson lives in the same apartment building as Jiang. He moved in during winter and said he didn’t think that an air conditioner was vital until June, when Denver experienced triple-digit heat. He said he woke up one morning after a restless night of sleep and headed straight to Walmart and bought a small window air conditioning unit. He said he can dramatically feel the difference in temperature the moment he steps into his apartment hallway.
Rena said she plans to continue to take long drives throughout the summer to stay cool in her car.