If you live in a big city, you surely know how uncomfortable and disruptive noise pollution is. Loud noises can interfere with your sleeping schedule, cause hearing problems, and disturb your peace of mind.
Fortunately, there are some tips that everyone living in a big city can try. The following guide will cover them all and teach you how you can help put an end to noise pollution in your own home.
What Is Noise Pollution?
Noise pollution refers to all excessive and unwanted sounds you can hear in the environment. In cities, it usually includes the noise made by cars and other vehicles, planes and jets, construction machines, leaf blowers, lawn mowers, as well as different home appliances.
If the noise does not exceed 115 decibels, it is tolerable and likely won’t cause any harm to your hearing in the short term. However, the noise in big cities often exceeds this number, especially during rush hour on work days.
The Effects of Noise Pollution in Cities
Excessive noise isn’t necessarily harmful if it doesn’t last long. Unfortunately, the noise pollution in cities is pretty much constant, meaning that it can severely affect your health.
For one, noise can damage your hearing by affecting your eardrums. This is especially the case with sounds made by construction equipment and machinery in your close vicinity.
Moreover, excessive noise can disrupt your sleeping pattern. If you don’t get enough sleep, your body will have no energy to defend itself from viruses and bacteria. In other words, your immune system will be weakened, exposing you to various potential illnesses. Moreover, the lack of sleep could also cause anxiety and depression.
In many cases, noise pollution causes stress and elevated blood pressure. These symptoms can lead to different cardiovascular and psychophysiological effects, including heart attack, headaches, and migraines.
It is also important to mention that noise isn’t only harmful to humans. In fact, pets (from dogs and cats to fish and hamsters) can all suffer due to excessive noise in their environments. Some of them get so scared and agitated that they have heart attacks or strokes.
Besides pets, the noise is also harmful to wildlife, including birds and all animals living in nature. It can drive them away from their usual environments, leading to their endangerment.
Last but not least, noise pollution can interfere with most of your daily activities. Whether you are working from home, trying to read or study, or just planning to get some rest after a difficult day, the noise will make it quite challenging.
Reducing Noise Pollution in Cities: 14 Effective Tips
It goes without saying that the main causes of noise pollution are usually out of the hands of regular people. For example, there isn’t much you can do to stop trains, buses, or jet planes from being used. The same is true for construction equipment and other similar sources of excessive noise.
However, there are still tips that you can follow to make your life easier. It is best to experiment with a few to see what works or doesn’t, but combining them is usually the wisest way to go.
1. Keep Your Windows Closed
Keeping your windows closed during rush hour is the best way to keep unwanted noise out of your home or apartment. This tip works for traffic sounds, as well as those produced by construction workers and machines.
Of course, it is important to air out your rooms and ensure that the temperature inside is comfortable. To that end, you should open your windows during the night and early morning, when traffic isn’t as dense, and everything is quieter.
2. Use Earplugs
Buying earplugs is, by far, the most affordable soundproofing solution on this list. These little tools will help you keep any outside (or inside) noise out while you sleep, read, study, or simply go about your day.
The great thing about earplugs is that they come in different sizes, and they can adjust to your ears as soon as you put them in. Thus, there is a model that will work for everyone.
Earplugs are especially useful at night, as they can easily help restore your disrupted sleeping schedule. So, if excessive noise of any kind is keeping you up at night, earplugs are definitely an option to try out.
3. Insulation Improvements
Taking insulation measures can also help you keep loud noises at bay. Of course, it is no surprise that this type of soundproofing is the most expensive. It involves buying different products and materials and installing them on your walls, ceiling, and windows.
However, as expensive as it is, insulating your home is also the most effective way to soundproof it. Insulation methods such as foaming or batt can easily keep all excessive noise out of your home, allowing you to enjoy your peace and quiet.
Aside from soundproofing, insulation is also good for keeping your house or apartment cool in the summer and warm during the winter. Thus, good insulation can also help you save money on power bills.
4. Noise-Canceling Headphones
In recent years, noise-canceling headphones have become one of the most popular soundproofing options on the market. It is easy to see why: they are not too pricey, and they are indeed effective.
A good pair of these headphones can make studying or reading easierin a boisterous setting. After all, they are used by construction workers all the time, so you can be sure they work.
5. Wall-To-Wall Carpeting
Installing wall-to-wall carpeting in your home is another straightforward way of reducing the amount of noise that enters from outside. The carpets are made of acoustic-optimized materials, meaning they absorb noise well.
This solution is especially useful if you have noisy downstairs neighbors. Besides reducing the sounds from the outside, the carpeting will also keep out any arguments, loud TV, or music from downstairs.
6. Installing a Fence
Although it might seem a bit impractical, installing a thick fence around your house can do a lot to keep out unwanted sounds. Since these sounds reach your home in the form of vibrations, putting a barrier between them and the house itself could help.
In this case, it is essential to choose materials that would either absorb or dispel the vibrations that reach them. Thus, you should use acoustic panels, as they will work best while still looking nice.
Of course, it is important to mention that a fence cannot keep all the noise from your home. Generally speaking, most soundproofing fences can shave around 20 decibels off the incoming noise before it reaches your yard and home.
To put things into perspective, this number means that your yard would be about four times quieter with the fence. So, although you’d still hear the noise, it would be much more manageable and tolerable.
7. Investing in Noise-Friendly Floors
As already mentioned, carpeting can go a long way in reducing the noise entering your home. However, other flooring types — such as vinyl — can do an even better job when it comes to soundproofing.
Vinyl has great sound-absorbing qualities, making it a good choice for kitchens and even bedrooms. In addition, it comes in a wide range of colors and designs, so it can truly fit well into any interior design you might have going on.
8. Furniture Is Also Important
Put simply, anything you have in your home can serve as a soundproofing tool — if you choose it well. Thus, pay special attention to the material of the armchairs, sofas, bookshelves, and tables thatyou buy.
Even more importantly, be careful about where you put each piece of furniture. For example, placing a big closet by the wall that separates your home from the street can help reduce some of the noise that reaches you.
9. Turn Off Your Electronic Devices
Although people are usually unaware of it, some of the incessant noise they hear daily comes from their own homes. Computers, music and game systems, TVs, Hi-Fi systems — they all emit noise you usually aren’t even aware of until you turn them off.
So, try to turn these devices off when you aren’t using them. Besides making your home quieter, doing so will also help you save some money on electricity bills. Therefore, it’s a real win-win situation.
10. Trees Can Also Help
Some experts believe that planting trees can help reduce noise pollution in big cities. The trees serve as great natural barriers to noise, and they also offer shade and improve air quality.
So, if you live in a house with a yard and you have some space to plant trees, do it. Even though they will take a few years to grow, you will have a whole natural soundproofing system in place once they do.
Moreover, the trees will improve your curb appeal and make your yard and home more aesthetically pleasing. Seeing as the benefits are endless, you cannot go wrong by planting a couple of trees.
11. Choose a Dedicated Quiet Space
For most people, a lot of soundproofing methods are simply too expensive to carry out. After all, insulating an entire house or buying new flooring for every room isn’t really suitable for most budgets.
Well, the good news is that you can get away with insulating only one single room. Think of it as your dedicated quiet place, where you go to rest, have fun, and forget all the annoying noise plaguing you all day.
So, choose a room in your home, and then turn it into a safe haven. It is best if it is your bedroom, but any other room you prefer can work just as well. You can install new insulation and carpeting, invest in noise-friendly furniture, or anything else you can think of.
As long as the end result helps you sleep and relax more, you can do anything you want. And the best thing is, you won’t have to spend a fortune to do it.
12. Mask the Noise
If you have no money at the moment and you need some way to keep the noise at bay, you can try masking the noise. This step is quite simple, as it only involves playing some relaxing music or any other soothing sounds you like.
In addition, you can install a loud fan or some wind chimes. The whirring can mask the other noise quite well, giving you the illusion that it is quieter. White noise machines are another option to consider, as the type of noise they create is literally made to mask other distracting sounds.
13. Talk to Your Neighbors
A lot of noise pollution comes from one’s neighbors. Think about it — how many times have you been woken up by your neighbor mowing the lawn at ungodly hours in the morning? Alternatively, how many nights have you barely slept because the people below you were throwing a party? And if you’re being honest, how often have you caused some unwanted noise yourself?
As annoying as they are, all of these issues have easy solutions. Namely, you simply have to talk to your neighbors. Establish some ground rules for noise, come up with quiet hours, and try to stick to them as much as possible. And if any of you have to break those rules, give everyone else a warning beforehand.
If you do all of this, you won’t have to fight with your neighbors every other day. In addition, everyone will know when making noise is okay and when it’s not, so the level of noise pollution will decrease at the most vital times of the day.
14. Go Beyond Your Neighbors
Finally, it is essential to put some pressure on all relevant authorities in your city or town. They have the power to introduce various noise regulation acts, and you have to urge them to take action.
If cities pass laws that put a limit on the amount of noise that people can emit in public, the level of noise pollution will significantly decrease. So, sign petitions, talk to your representatives, and try to bring about change that way.
Nowadays, noise pollution is one of the biggest problems that society is facing, especially in big cities. Excessive noise can harm your hearing, disrupt your sleeping schedule and lifestyle, and cause stress and anxiety.
Luckily, there are certain steps you can take to reduce noise pollution and make your life easier. Hopefully, this guide helps you get started. Remember to try combining at least a few of these solutions for an all-encompassing result. Good luck!
- Noise-Canceling Systems For Home
- How To Reduce Traffic Noise in Backyard
- How To Soundproof A Room From Outside Noise