***Update*** Today, July 20, the temp here is near 100 and the heat index near 110+. We had a neighborhood blackout for SIX HOURS, and these curtains proved their worth. The house never got above 80, even though the sun was directly hitting all of the windows!!! Not only are they saving us money, they kept us cool in this insane heat!
In the past, the summer has brought crazy high energy bills. Our house is well insulated with newer windows, but when the temp gets above 100 for days on end, the A/C runs and runs. We have put curtains up and done many energy saving things, and they have helped, but I am determined to continue trying to get it lower.
The thing that I found this year that has made the most difference is using some energy efficient black out curtains. I researched and looked all over, and finally decided on these, sold at Walmart. Apparently they are big sellers, because they have been out of stock for a while. I got one of the shorter panels for Aaron's room in black and an identical panel for the upstairs loft in black. These were the HOTTEST rooms in the house. It makes the rooms dark, but they are so cool now that it is just unbelievable the difference it made. Our room was also warm, so I bought 2 long panels in a dark green color for our double window, and again, it made a world of difference. When they are in stock again, I am going to get 2 panels to replace the "normal" curtains in Joshua and Logan's room. In the living room we have sliding doors to the backyard. It has vertical blinds. I really want to get some of these panels for there as well, but the blinds will probably have to go if I do, and it might make going in/out difficult so I am still pondering that.
Ideally I will get 2 panels for each window when they are in stock, but one panel covered them for now, and drastically reduced the heat, so we are going with it. A great buy for $13 per panel.