Noise from these sources is the most frequently complained about - with music and entertainment noise, one person's pleasure can be torture for someone else.
To avoid annoyance - or worse, follow these simple rules:
- Keep the volume down - especially at night/early morning.
- Try to always keep the volume down whether it's TV, car stereo or conversation, especially late at night. Set your hi-fi bass control at a low level – the base beat can be particularly irritating
- Try to reduce the effect of noise from your TV, stereo and speakers by moving them away from partition walls, floors or ceilings
- If you live in a flat with a neighbour beneath you, raise your TV and stereo off the floor if possible
- Standing speakers on an insulating material can reduce transmission of sound
- With personal entertainment - for example toys, computer games - be considerate - keep the volume down. Avoid using them in the same room where someone is watching TV or listening to the radio. Turning the volume up may disturb your neighbours
- If you play your own music, keep the volume down, windows shut and agree times to practice when you will cause least disturbance
- If you like your music loud, use headphones. But be careful, if you cannot hear other people talking when you are wearing headphones you could be deafening yourself
- Try to carry out unavoidable noisy activities in sociable hours, which the National Society for Clean Air and Environmental Protection defines as being between 8am and 7pm weekdays and Saturday and between 10am and 5pm Sundays
- If you are using taxis or mini-cabs early in the morning or late at night ask the driver to announce his arrival by knocking on your door or phoning beforehand rather than sounding his horn
- Warn your neighbours if you are going to make unavoidable noise – having a party or doing DIY for example
- If you are having a party, consider inviting the neighbours. Keep windows and doors closed, and if someone complains, turn it down
We use more and more appliances to help us with the housework - and they can be very noisy. Where you put them and when you use them can make all the difference:
- Make sure washing machines, fridges and dishwashers are away from party walls and on a carpet or rubber mat to reduce vibration - especially if you live in a flat
- Use noisy appliances at sensible times - during normal waking hours. Hoovering in the early hours could wake up half the street
- Consider those at home - if hoovering/using a food processor shutting doors will avoid the necessity to turn up the TV/music
- When you buy a new household appliance such as a washing machine choose the quietest model. This will encourage manufacturers to make more! Some products - vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, washing machines have a noise rating - if they haven't ask why
If pets are well cared for and happy, they shouldn't make too much noise.
- Dogs bark if lonely, bored or unhappy. If you have to leave them, get a neighbour to look after them or visit
- If you own a dog, train it not to bark unnecessarily. Never leave your dog alone for long periods – ask a friend to exercise it during your absence. In law a barking dog can be a noise nuisance and you could be prosecuted if you do nothing to stop it
- Cats make noise too - howling and fighting at night. If your cat is annoying the neighbours, keep it inside
- All domestic animals - except perhaps fish - have the potential to cause noise. Ensure they are kept healthy and happy. Put cages/kennels where they are least likely to disturb your neighbours - and you
Cars and motorbikes
- If you’re a car or motorcycle driver, always drive quietly in built up areas. Try not to drive and brake fiercely
- Try to avoid revving your car or motorcycle unnecessarily
- Try and keep the silencer in good condition and only use your horn in an emergency. Remember, it is illegal to sound a car horn between the hours of 11.30pm and 7am and any time when the vehicle is stationery unless it is an emergency.
The construction and layout of your home can cause problems within your home and to your neighbours:
- Avoid slamming doors and thundering up and down stairs - especially if you live in a flat or terraced house
- When considering options for flooring, be considerate. Many leases prohibit stripped floors/hard surfaces - for good reason
- If you have stripped/laminate flooring, take off heavy shoes/boots. Socks or slippers will reduce noise
- If installing laminated flooring, make sure you use sound insulating underlay
- Sounds travel between walls, be aware of what's next door. If you can, avoid having noisy spaces (kitchen, living room) adjacent to quiet spaces (bedroom, study)
- Consider fitting carpets over floorboards and curtains on windows to reduce everyday noise in your home
- When doing DIY, try and make sure you carry out the noisiest jobs during the day. Keep the evening for quieter work such as painting and decorating
Our gardens are a place to relax - with a bit of consideration we can keep them peaceful.
- Power tools in the garden should be used with discretion - avoid strimming or shredding when your neighbours are trying to relax in the sunshine
- Think before installing features in your garden that make a noise - the splashing fountain or tinkling chimes might soothe you on a sunny afternoon, but could drive your neighbours mad at night
- When entertaining in the garden remember that sound travels. Avoid amplified music outdoors
Consider mowing the lawn and using garden power tools at a reasonable time – not early morning or late evening when the noise could be most annoying
Alarms can be the most disturbing of all noises - it's what they are for!
- If you have a house or car alarm, leave a key with a neighbour or friend in case it is accidentally set off
- Register the key-holders with the Police to ensure problems can be dealt with if you are out or away. (In London burglar alarm owners are legally obliged to do this)
- If you have a house alarm please get it maintained regularly so that it doesn’t go off accidentally
- Make sure smoke alarms are correctly sited, so they don't go off every time you burn toast. In the kitchen it is better to fit a heat detector