Are you keeping the windows closed as well as the curtains? I've always found that to be helpful.
And I'd recommend dark curtains. At least all the times I can think of rooms staying really cool with sun on them all day, it was in rooms with dark curtains (and once again, with the windows closed also.)
I think aluminum foil curtains are your best bet.
Try blackout curtains. I had a west window like that and those curtains saved my life a few summers back when we had a heat wave.
Actually, both.

For optimal heat reflection you want a light (preferably white) inner curtain facing the window, and a dark outer curtain facing the room. Thus sayeth six years of trying to survive in the Bay Area without air conditioning after a lifetime of the PacNW.

In general, dark things absorb more heat than light things. That's why owning a black car in Phoenix is considered one of the dumbest things you can do.
Put up huge mirrors next to the windows.
My guess would be blackout drapes but with the white backing so it reflects. Definitely not black on the sun side. Would absolutely heat up more than a light color.
You have to block the solar radiation before it passes through the glass. Once its in, it's in. Color of drapes makes absolutely no difference. Hang something on the exterior of the window.
It depends on what faces the outside. A dark color will absorb the sunlight and turn it into heat - heated curtains, not good. White on the other hand will reflect the light back outside so the material doesn't heat as much.
What you really need are "blackout curtains", frequently used in cheap motels where people have to sleep during the day. They're white on the outside to reflect the light, a light-proof middle panel that doesn't let any light through, and an attractive inside material of your choice.
Then buy a small window air conditioner to take the edge off and make it a little cooler than outside. The new ones are relatively efficient and start at about $120.
@3 is correct. Sure, you'll look like you're cooking meth, but aluminum-foil-coated cardboard in your windows reflects basically ALL of the light.
Dark curtains... And if there is any part of the apartment that is cooler - say a bedroom or something that is not in direct sunlight then do this when it starts to cool off this evening: open the window in the cooler room, put a fan in the window that blows cool air into the apartment... Then open a window in the hot/sunny part of the apartment and put a second fan that blows the hot air out of the window. This will speed up the exit of the hot air and get a bunch of nice cool air flowing through the apartment.

If it's a studio apartment or all windows face west/west-ish you're probably screwed as far as the fan trick goes so you're gonna have to rely on the dark curtains.
Blackout lining that is white, curtains that are dark.
Go to home depot, get yourself a roll of Reflectix insulation. It's like silver bubble wrap. Cut to fit window, put some sticky tack or tape in the corners to hold it on there. reflects 95% of heat back the way it came. Yes, it will look like you're a tweaker who's covered their windows with aluminum foil, but you'll be a lot cooler!)
Dark on the outside is bad, and light will only be good if they are thick enough to both block and reflect the light, although they should be better than dark curtains which absorb it.

Ideally, you need reflective exterior curtains. They can b purchased; I have some in my Midwestern house.
I think I might need to crank up the air conditioner another notch after reading that. But I'll be thinking of you.

(OK, not really.)
If you're really desperate, get a roll of mylar from the insoor sun shoppe and put that over your windows. At Burningman we covered the windows of a van with mylar and it remained inhabitable much of the day, even parked in direct sun. The van was white
It's only 85 degrees outside. Calm down.
I second the mylar idea--but you can get them in the form of roller blinds that are up and out of the way the other 50 weeks when you don't need them.
White blackout material from Joann's. Pretty cheap. Attach it to the back of your existing curtains.
Be thankful you're not where it is 100 or above. We're there. This wave is supposed to break around 21:00 on Tuesday. And, use it as an excuse to make yourself some Popsicles.
Who cares if your dark curtains absorb some heat? I'm assuming Bethany's not planning on wrapping herself in her curtains.

Also, buy a fan.
Remove the curtains or open them wide, then install inexpensive white mini-blinds set at an angle that best reflects the sun. If it's practical to do so, prop your hall door ajar so stagnant heat in your apartment has someplace to go (not that it necessarily will).
I was not much help earlier. My kitchen is south and west facing. And the sun does not set until 9:03 tonight. So, I suggest you make some of these.

Fnarf's Popsicles

2 cups really strong coffee (double strength)*
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
Mix and Freeze

He used Vietnamese coffee. I used Aussie.


@9's right. Once the heat hits the glass, doesn't matter what color the curtains are.
best would be metal exterior shutters to stop the sun from hitting the windows at all. i'm sure your apartment's owner will install them if you just ask.
@3 is right (ugly as that would be); @9 is a moron. After the light gets in the window, you CAN reflect much of it back out through the glass with an opaque, white curtain, which will prevent that energy from heating your room (which is why those white or silver folding sunshades people put inside their car windshields are so popular in normal climates (those where it actually gets hot in the summer as a matter of course, not as a fluke)). Once the energy is absorbed by something in the room, you're stuck with it, so you want to bounce as much of it away as possible. If you could shade the window with an awning or outside curtain, that would be better, but if your building won't allow that, do what you can. The silver bubble-wrap stuff is good too, but you've probably already got foil and scotch tape.
@23 Color matters if the curtains are inside the room, then dark curtains release the absorbed light into the room as heat.

Light curtains will reflect some of the light back through the glass, although as others have mentioned the best way to keep the light out is to have basically anything blocking the light outside the glass.
The silver reflective (foil, mylar) taping to the windows idea is great, but only if you don't want to open the windows, ever.

I've lived in 4 states now; in only 2 of the 4 did it ever get so hot that it's an issue. The folks who said blackout drapes win. Light, reflective white facing out; whatever color you want facing in. There's tons of brands, you can get 'em via Amazon or Bed Bath & Bullshit. Make sure they are actual blackout drapes - like say it on the packaging - as some kinds will say they are energy efficient, but then not have the thick inner material that both helps keep cool air in & reflect sunlight out. & yes, they work. My current home had no curtains, then crap curtains that didn't reflect the summer sun. My room was unbearable in the daytime, even w/ AC. Those blackout drapes have made a noticeable difference. I also don't recommend the trendy grommet top ones. They look pretty, but rod pocket kind = best coverage.…

If you don't have AC, get fans. Or a window AC unit. & only open your windows at night, to let cooler air in.

& Kim in Portland, those popsicles sound delicious & energizing too.

Dark curtains are the way to go. SHUT THE WINDOWS and keep the hot air outside. If you have a north facing window, you can open that for air flow, but shut the east and west facing windows for sure. Keep the lights off. Turn off extraneous electric stuff, like computers and the TV to keep extra heat from coming in.

Keep fans circulating the air inside. When the temp outside equals the temp inside, open the windows.
I use those fans that have the twin set of fans in smaller windows, and a box fan for the patio door and have a ceiling fan too.

You can turn one of the small fans around, or with the ones that have a reverse flow, you need to have it so that it is pulling the hot air in your place out at least one window.

If you don't have any shade outside your place, it may not make it tolerable, but if there is any way to block the sun coming in the west facing windows, outside of your house, you should do that. If there is a patio, hang some planters with those trailing petunias in them. If you water them and fertilize them, it may offer enough exterior plant shade to keep the heat gain down a notch or two.

There are dark drapes that have the light block lining on the window side. Buy those. Now.
@28, I can't tell if you're kidding or not. Are Seattle landlords so benevolent that they'd adjust a building's exterior on a tenant's request? Or is this some subtle Seattle sarcasm that I'm not grokking..?
Oh yeah, just found these helpful links:…

These are the "dual layer cellular blinds" she mentions in the above article as what she has on most of her windows, they are apparently awesome:…

Here's some info on reflective window treatments:…

(& there's all sorts of helpful links on the side there too.)

Sorry for all the posts. I loathe being too hot so want to help. Luck..!

Had an apartment in France that had roll up/down steel shutters on the outside of the windows. All the way down they were total blackout, plus were break-in proof. They were also light colored, so the inside stayed cool---france gets pretty hot and AC is rarer than here. you could push the 'up' button one click and they would open a small slit between each slat, allowing in some light, or roll them up as much as you need. Probably the greatest invention ever.
And to be fair: @23 and 26 are also morons.
Atmospheric scientist here. You want to block solar radiation from directly entering the room, and only the thickness of the fabric matters for this. You also want to keep the fabric cool, and a lighter colored fabric (or shades) will reflect that solar radiation rather than absorb it as heat. It does not matter what color the fabric is on the inside of the room, because heating rate by infrared radiation (the transfer of heat from the cloth to the room) does not change based on color.

So what you want: light colored to reflect (rather than absorb) incoming sunlight, and thick enough to block out all the light. With the exception of using foil if you so choose, there is no need to have different colors on the outside and inside.

The reason we intuitively think we want dark curtains is because we want to keep all the light out and have a dark room. However, as long as it blocks out the incoming light (think: white quilt), the room will be dark. The lighter the color of the fabric (on the outside), the cooler the fabric itself will stay, and the less infrared radiation that will be transferred (as heat) into the room.
Also: @26 and @9 are mostly not correct: you can reflect much of the incoming radiation back out through the window. Google image search "solar spectrum", and you can see that the majority of radiation (energy) from sunlight is in the visible and near infrared wavelengths, which most glass windows are ~transparent to.

If it was true that energy couldn't be shipped back out a window, then putting up reflective/white fabric would not make the window look brighter from the outside. But it does look brighter because it does reflect light (energy) back outside.

The advantage to blocking the sunlight before it comes through the window is that you don't need to worry about the small portion of the light that is absorbed (versus reflected) by the curtains and window...because even the absorbed amount then stays outside.
I think a thick vinyl curtain that's aluminized facing outside would be the way to go. Ugly? You bet.
Cellular shades can have pretty good insulation values, especially if you go with a double or triple cell and get a tight fit.
Easy DIY "AC": put a bowl of ice in front of a fan. The cool air from the evaporating ice gets blown wherever you point the fan. This is what I did for sleeping during the '09 heat situation, the ice lasted most of the night and I actually got a little too cold. The trick is to get the top of the bowl up at the level of the fan, but any stack of books works for that.
I just got back from the ice store I bought a 10 pound block of dry ice I put it in a metal basket Set it up right and pushed my fan up against it then I turned my. fan on high. And walla I have an air conditioner the dry ice doesn't melt there's no run off and my fan is blowing cold air by the way the temperature in my apartment was 98. good luck

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