Attribution - Shunichi kouroki on flickr.com/creativecommons
Noise causes stress and discomfort all through the day and it is fascinating how many noises people hear every single moment, just while sitting at their laptops: air conditioning unit, distant music from the neighbors, people chattering in the streets, fingertips pressing the keys and even the laptop’s own cooler. And that is not even the half of it! So, when it comes to noise reduction, you should act on two fronts – outside and inside noise.
Outside Noise Outside noise is not something you can eliminate, because there will always be people passing by your window, cars rushing through your street, dogs barking and other loud noise sources up to one hundred decibels, but what you can do is minimize it. By performing a couple of easy tricks, you will block the outdoors nuisance.
For example, you can lower the amount of noise from your downstairs neighbors by covering floors with rugs or carpet tiles. This will make things much better, especially if you live in a hardwood-floored apartment or in an old residential building with no acoustic insulation.
The same goes for your walls – if your building has poor insulation, you have to do something yourself. Besides installing sound-reduction wallpaper which is thicker than regular ones and perfect for nurseries and entertainment rooms, you can employ an easier tactic: place heavy furniture on shared walls. Closets, bookcases and cabinets packed with a lot of stuff will do magic against outside noise, and your neighbors will appreciate it as well.
Finally, when it comes to windows, you can simply cover them with heavy drapes and curtains that will present a sound-proofing zone, or you can go a step further with double glazing windows. They raise the quality of insulation and are the most adequate solution for residential areas with high noise pollution. By eliminating cracks seals in windows and replacing thin glasses with thicker ones, they minimize the vibrations and air infiltration, causing major reduction of noise. In a recent chat with Sydney-based double glazing experts, I learned that this retrofit can block more than two thirds of the outside noise, benefiting your health and inner peace.
Attribution - dumbonyc on flickr.com/creativecommons
One of the most problematic rooms definitely is the laundry room with the two noisiest appliances one can have – washing machine and clothes dryer. However, this problem can be easily reduced with some soundproofing and foam insulation which will not cost you much because this room is generally rather small.
Moreover, if you can identify other loud appliances, you should be able to move them into an area where they will not trouble you. While a loud refrigerator has to stay in the kitchen, the garbage disposal, for example, can be installed in the garage and the food processor used in the basement.
In the end, for rooms that have more than one uses – office, home theatre, living room, study, library, etc. all packed into one – you should eliminate the noise sources you are not using at the moment.
If you want to catch up on your work, turn off the TV and sound system or, on the other hand, turn off the computer once you start watching a movie. Not only will it be more enjoyable and productive, but you will also be less affected by unwanted noise.
Attribution - plantronicsgermany on flickr.com/creativecommons
As far as the other tactics go, you can try noise-cancelling headphones and soft earplugs, or simply turning off noise sources such as the AC. Also, there are a couple of mobile apps that measure noise level and alarm you when it is too high, so you could give them a shot.