We don’t tend to think of noise as a health hazard, but the fact is, noise pollution is a serious problem, particularly in densely populated areas. Think about how relaxed you are when you get out in nature and away from all the ringing phones, beeping machines, buzzing electronics, honking horns, and all the noise, noise, noise of day-to-day life. “Ah, this is so peaceful, so quiet.”
Noise is simply a fact of life. From the alarm clock that wakes us up to the coffee grinder, our cell phone, the car and radio, traffic, all of the office machines, etc. Our lives are full of sounds that would have our ancestors running for cover. And we don’t even blink. Before the industrial revolution, homes were not filled with electronic beeps and mechanical noises. We simply didn’t evolve in a noise-filled space, to our ancestors, loud noise meant get ready to run or fight. It’s no wonder noise makes us tense.
Our homes should be a refuge from the hustle and bustle of life, but instead, they’re filled with a constant drone. From the kitchen to the laundry room, things are constantly humming, buzzing or beeping. Add in our personal electronics, television, radio and computers, and we’ve gotten to a point where there is almost never silence. And that’s before you start considering neighbors, the city street outside and all of the other external things that intrude on our space via our ears.
Create a more peaceful home environment by taking steps to mitigate noise pollution. Once you get over the shock of realizing how much noise was in your life, you’ll be wondering how you ever coped.
- Include absorbent material like drapes, carpet, fabric wall hangings and upholstered furniture. Hard surfaces reflect and bounce noise, so the more softness you can add, the better. Books and lots of pillows will also help muffle sound. The softer, thicker, and nubbier your fabric choices, the more sound absorbing they will be.
- Pad the legs of large appliances. Put a 1/4” thick piece of cork under the legs, it will stop the vibrations from transmitting to the floor and contributing to the overall electronic “hum.” Consider placing a full pad under small, particularly noisy appliances like your printer. Keep appliances at least two inches away from walls to avoid transmitting vibrations to the walls.
- When it comes time to replace your appliances, look for ones that are energy efficient and designed to produce as little noise as possible. Some of the newer dishwashers are downright scary they’re so quiet.
- Insulate your laundry room. Make sure your machines are on strong, level surfaces and add an extra layer of insulation and a solid-core door to keep sound from filtering into adjacent rooms. While you’re at it, turn off all the end-of-cycle alarms.
- Install small pads on the back of cabinet doors and inside drawers to prevent that “slamming” sound.
- Install weather stripping, and storm windows and doors. Not only do they lower your heating and air conditioning bills, but they’re a great noise-reduction tool.
- Replace hollow-core doors with solid ones. Check out salvage facilities for great deals. Your home will look better and you’ll be amazed at how much they cut down on noise transmission between rooms.
- Insulating your plumbing not only saves on water heating costs, it reduces the sound of flowing, gurgling and sloshing. Adding in water hammer arresters can help reduce or eliminate that clunking noise when washing machines and dishwasher valves shut off water.
- Landscape for sound. Planting evergreens as a sound buffer between buildings and between your home and the street will help reduce noise as well.
- Mow your lawn the old-fashioned way. Skip the power mower and use people power. It’s silent and you get a great workout.
- Add white noise like a water fountain or waterfall. The soft, soothing sounds will help mask less pleasant noises.
You won’t be able to create a completely noise-free environment, but you can certainly create a calmer, quieter, more soothing, relaxing home. And that’s always a good thing.