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SLOG JUL 1, 2013 4:24 PM

by Bethany Jean Clement

Are you keeping the windows closed as well as the curtains? I've 1
always found that to be helpful.
sikandro on July 1, 2013 at 4:32 PM · Report this

And I'd recommend dark curtains. At least all the times I can think of 2
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.)
sikandro on July 1, 2013 at 4:34 PM · Report this

I think aluminum foil curtains are your best bet. 3

emor on July 1, 2013 at 4:38 PM · Report this
Try blackout curtains. I had a west window like that and those curtains 4
saved my life a few summers back when we had a heat wave.
ScienceNerd on July 1, 2013 at 4:38 PM · Report this

Actually, both. 5

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.

Dahlielah on July 1, 2013 at 4:39 PM · Report this

In general, dark things absorb more heat than light things. That's why 6
owning a black car in Phoenix is considered one of the dumbest things
you can do.
Renton Mike on July 1, 2013 at 4:40 PM · Report this

Put up huge mirrors next to the windows. 7

seatackled on July 1, 2013 at 4:41 PM · Report this

My guess would be blackout drapes but with the white backing so it 8

 reflects. Definitely not black on the sun side. Would absolutely heat up
more than a light color.
Agrippa on July 1, 2013 at 4:47 PM · Report this
You have to block the solar radiation before it passes through the 9
glass. Once its in, it's in. Color of drapes makes absolutely no
difference. Hang something on the exterior of the window.
Twilight Sparkle on July 1, 2013 at 4:47 PM · Report this

It depends on what faces the outside. A dark color will absorb the 10
 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
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.
Jim Detwiler on July 1, 2013 at 4:49 PM · Report this

@3 is correct. Sure, you'll look like you're cooking meth, but 11

 aluminum-foil-coated cardboard in your windows reflects basically
ALL of the light.
Ruke on July 1, 2013 at 4:57 PM · Report this

Dark curtains... And if there is any part of the apartment that is cooler 12
- 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.
Queen of Sleaze on July 1, 2013 at 4:57 PM · Report this

Blackout lining that is white, curtains that are dark. 13

 Tawnos on July 1, 2013 at 5:02 PM · Report this

Go to home depot, get yourself a roll of Reflectix insulation. It's like 14

 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!)
SuperNintendo Chalmers on July 1, 2013 at 5:06 PM · Report this

Dark on the outside is bad, and light will only be good if they are thick 15
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.
wingedkat on July 1, 2013 at 5:08 PM · Report this

I think I might need to crank up the air conditioner another notch after 16
reading that. But I'll be thinking of you.

(OK, not really.)

Fifty-Two-Eighty on July 1, 2013 at 5:08 PM · Report this

If you're really desperate, get a roll of mylar from the insoor sun 17
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
spaceapple on July 1, 2013 at 5:09 PM · Report this

It's only 85 degrees outside. Calm down. 18

 psychic, powerless... on July 1, 2013 at 5:18 PM · Report this

@18: OH DEAR GOD IT'S 85 DEGREES!!! 19

 eys on July 1, 2013 at 5:27 PM · Report this

I second the mylar idea--but you can get them in the form of roller 20
 blinds that are up and out of the way the other 50 weeks when you
don't need them.
crone on July 1, 2013 at 5:31 PM · Report this

White blackout material from Joann's. Pretty cheap. Attach it to the 21

 back of your existing curtains.
royalpigeon on July 1, 2013 at 5:46 PM · Report this
Be thankful you're not where it is 100 or above. We're there. This 22
wave is supposed to break around 21:00 on Tuesday. And, use it as
an excuse to make yourself some Popsicles.
kim in portland on July 1, 2013 at 6:03 PM · Report this

Who cares if your dark curtains absorb some heat? I'm assuming 23
Bethany's not planning on wrapping herself in her curtains.

Also, buy a fan.

madcap on July 1, 2013 at 6:07 PM · Report this

Remove the curtains or open them wide, then install inexpensive 24

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).
Demetria on July 1, 2013 at 6:23 PM · Report this

I was not much help earlier. My kitchen is south and west facing. And 25
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.

kim in portland on July 1, 2013 at 6:24 PM · Report this

@9's right. Once the heat hits the glass, doesn't matter what color the 26
 curtains are.
sarah70 on July 1, 2013 at 7:12 PM · Report this


 on July 1, 2013 at 8:15 PM · Report this

best would be metal exterior shutters to stop the sun from hitting the 28
windows at all. i'm sure your apartment's owner will install them if you
just ask.
Max Solomon on July 1, 2013 at 8:21 PM · Report this

@3 is right (ugly as that would be); @9 is a moron. After the light gets 29
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.
ScrawnyKayaker on July 1, 2013 at 8:46 PM · Report this
@23 Color matters if the curtains are inside the room, then dark 30
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.
wingedkat on July 1, 2013 at 8:49 PM · Report this
The silver reflective (foil, mylar) taping to the windows idea is great, 31
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.

Eva Hopkins on July 1, 2013 at 8:54 PM · Report this

Dark curtains are the way to go. SHUT THE WINDOWS and keep 32
 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.
lauramae on July 1, 2013 at 8:55 PM · Report this

@28, I can't tell if you're kidding or not. Are Seattle landlords so 33

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..?
Eva Hopkins on July 1, 2013 at 8:56 PM · Report this
Oh yeah, just found these helpful links: 34…

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..!

Eva Hopkins on July 1, 2013 at 9:06 PM · Report this

Had an apartment in France that had roll up/down steel shutters on 35

 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.
Chris Jury on July 1, 2013 at 10:02 PM · Report this

And to be fair: @23 and 26 are also morons. 36

ScrawnyKayaker on July 1, 2013 at 11:19 PM · Report this
Atmospheric scientist here. You want to block solar radiation from 37
 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
G g on July 2, 2013 at 10:03 AM · Report this

Also: @26 and @9 are mostly not correct: you can reflect much of 38
 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

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.
G g on July 2, 2013 at 10:32 AM · Report this

I think a thick vinyl curtain that's aluminized facing outside would be 39

 the way to go. Ugly? You bet.
herrbrahms on July 11, 2014 at 7:48 PM · Report this

Cellular shades can have pretty good insulation values, especially if 40

you go with a double or triple cell and get a tight fit.
long-time reader on July 12, 2014 at 8:58 PM · Report this

Easy DIY "AC": put a bowl of ice in front of a fan. The cool air from the 41
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.

on July 13, 2014 at 11:06 AM · Report this

I just got back from the ice store I bought a 10 pound block of dry ice I 42
 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
echoow on September 13, 2014 at 5:48 PM · Report this

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