Greener Lives loves to share ideas about healthy and sustainable interior design, creating greener homes, discovering amazing eco-friendly products and exploring a bit of all things green.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Shut off that car alarm - please!

Everybody can hear it and nobody's listening. We're just too used to alarms going off. Dogs barking, motorcycles gunning it down the road, planes rattling the windows, refrigerators humming - noise pollution is everywhere. Even if you didn't blow out your ears from dozens of rowdy concerts, a lifetime of lower level noise can be just as bad, even worse.

The list of side effects from noise pollution and the side effects from the side effects goes on and on. Noise pollution raises our stress level, which has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. Kids from very noisy homes have delayed language skills, reduced cognitive growth and increased anxiety. For seniors with hearing loss, white noise makes it even harder to hear.

Of course, you can ask your neighbors to stop their dogs from barking - if they can or will - but a great way to reduce your indoor noise pollution is by saving energy. Actually, you need to do the things that will save energy: caulk windows, weather strip and add rubber thresholds to doors, insulate walls and attics. What keeps the cold air outside in the winter and the hot air outside in the summer keeps the noise out, too. (If you're replacing your windows, go for double-paned windows filled with argon gas.)

Take a cue from medieval decorators who hung tapestries on drafty walls to keep out the cold and improved the castle acoustics, too. Think of soft surfaces instead of hard ones: drapes, fabric shades and upholstered furniture. Carpeting is a great sound absorber, but if you've ever replaced a carpet, you know it's not a healthy choice. Dust, pollen, mold and more collect beneath the carpet. Standard carpet off gases many toxic chemicals, too. Using a rug that you can pull up and wash is a better way to cushion hard flooring.
The best flooring choice for acoustic control is cork because its spongy texture absorbs sounds. Some sound studios use cork tiles on the walls for acoustic control, and so can you. Today's cork wall tiles and flooring don't look like they were made for pushpins.
Expanko's patterns are anything but cork board style.
Unicork even has a collection of metallic cork tiles.
  
When it comes to plank flooring, U.S. Floor's Natural Cork is the thing.


Of course, if you want the cork board look, it's around from Expanko and others.

Even as I write, my computer is whirring, a car is driving past my house and, yes, a dog is barking and barking and barking. I have two reasons to replace the rest of my 1951 home's old casement windows: my electric bill and my sanity. For now I need to take a deep breath and enjoy the mountain view out my window.

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