When can you make noise that your neighbours might hear?

Peter RavenData Journalist
December 12, 2022, 11:22 AM GMT+0

A quarter of Britons say noise from a neighbour’s washing machine in the early evening is unacceptable

The National Grid recently introduced a voluntary scheme for households with a smart meter which could save them up to £100 between November and March if they cut their peak-time energy use. Those taking part will be asked to delay their use of domestic appliances which use a lot of electricity until after the peak period of 4pm to 7pm.

The National Grid Electricity System Operator has recommended putting a washing machine on at night instead of the peak in the early evening to get some money back. But a YouGov survey has revealed that a quarter of Britons believe that running a washing machine in the early evening is unacceptable if it can be heard from other homes. One in ten (10%) say 7pm or earlier is the latest time it is acceptable and 15% consider 8pm to be the cut-off point.

While 29% say it is ok to run a washing machine that can be heard from other homes whatever the hour, 19% say 9pm is the latest, and 15% would not accept washing machines running after 10pm if they can be heard from neighbouring properties.

The 1996 Noise Act allows councils to issue warning notices in response to complaints about noise above permitted levels during “night hours” from 11pm to 7am. However, when it comes to hearing their neighbour’s washing machine in the morning, one in eight Britons (12%) consider 6am or earlier an acceptable time. One in six Brits (17%) also say they would accept hearing a washing machine at 7am and a quarter (27%) would rather their neighbours wait until 8am.

This survey was conducted twice, once asking about using the devices listed on a Wednesday, and once asking about using them on a Saturday, to see to whether it being a weekday or a weekend made a difference to the results. The day cited generally had negligible impact, so results shown are for the Wednesday question only. In those instances where the day of the week did make a difference, the results are cited separately.

What time of day is it ok to make noise with your... vacuum cleaner?

Britons are slightly less tolerant of neighbours using a vacuum cleaner in the early hours of the morning. One in ten (10%) would accept a 7am start but a third (33%) would prefer it if their neighbour waited until 8am to start hoovering, with another third (32%) saying 9am is the earliest time a neighbour should use a vacuum cleaner.

In terms of hearing a vacuum cleaner from a neighbouring property in the evening, 17% prefer to hear an end to the activity by 7pm and 23% by 8pm. Around one in seven (15%) say it is ok to use a vacuum cleaner that can be heard from other homes no matter the time.

What time of day is it ok to make noise with your... lawn mower?

With no walls to muffle the noise, it’s no surprise that almost half of the British public (47%) say they would rather their neighbour not use a lawn mower until 9am. While one in five Britons (22%) say they would accept the sound of their neighbour cutting the grass at 8am on a weekday, this figure drops to one in eight (12%) at the same time on a Saturday.

In the evening, more than a third (38%) say that mowing the lawn should cease by 7pm or earlier. A further 26% consider 8pm to be the latest time and one in five (20%) would accept their neighbour taking part in some late-night lawn mowing at 9pm.

What time of day is it ok to make noise with your... DIY activities like drilling?

A 9am start is also the most acceptable time for almost half of Britons (49%) to hear their neighbour performing DIY activities such as using a drill. Twice as many people (24%) say they will accept hearing a drill or other DIY tool at 8am on a weekday morning compared to 12% on a Saturday.

In the evening, there are similar acceptance levels to hearing DIY activities from another property as there are for a neighbour mowing their lawn. Four in ten Britons (40%) would like their neighbours to down tools by 7pm or earlier. A further 24% regard 8pm as an acceptable time to stop such activities and one in five (20%) say they would tolerate the noise until 9pm.

Younger Britons less tolerant of neighbouring noises in the morning

Generally speaking, 18-24 year olds are more accepting of late night noises from neighbours than the older generations, but the opposite is true when it comes to how early is too early to make noise in the morning.

For example, when it comes to lawnmowers, 18-24 year olds are far less likely to say the earliest point at which mowing can begin is 9am (26%, vs 47-54% among the older age groups) and instead more likely to put the kick off point at 10am (22% vs 14-15%) or 11am or later (14%, vs 5-8%).

Fast forward to the evening and youngsters are far less likely to say that mowing should be curtailed by 7pm or earlier (24%, vs 36-44% of those aged 25 and above) or by 8pm (19%, vs 26-31%).

See full results here and here

Photo: Getty