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Keep the peace: Air conditioner etiquette

During the warm summer months, it’s normal to flick on the AC to keep your home cool and comfortable. This might not seem like a big deal to you, but it might to your neighbours! Air conditioners can add unwelcome noise to a quiet neighbourhood and frustrate those around you. Keep the peace with these suggestions.

AC unit

An air conditioning unit stationed outside your home may seem like a perfect solution for beating the heat, but there may be something else to consider — the comfort of your next door neighbour! What might sound like a gentle hum to you could sound like a jet engine to your neighbour, so choose to be a considerate neighbour with these ideas.

The right AC unit

Every model is different, and there can be great variations in the noise generated, so try to prevent any problems down the road by choosing a quiet air conditioner. Have it professionally installed, and ask the installer for suggestions on keeping it as quiet as possible.

The right location

The right location for your AC unit is key to being a considerate neighbour. Be aware of the placement in relation to your neighbour’s home.

  • If the unit is to be placed at the side of your house, avoid positioning it toward any of your neighbour’s windows. Whether or not the windows are open, the sound will transmit through them, so having the air conditioning unit facing a solid wall is the best option.
  • Be aware of your neighbour’s back deck and outdoor spaces. Don’t place your air conditioner where the noise will affect their outdoor living.
  • If possible, create a sound barrier for the AC unit by placing it next to a garden shed, surrounding it with shrubs and trees, by building a partial structure to deflect the noise or by placing it to face a solid fence.

Keep up the maintenance

As with anything mechanical, an air conditioner that has not been properly maintained will likely not function as well as it should. This could contribute to more noise pollution. Keep that in check with regular maintenance.

Adhere to municipal guidelines

Most municipalities have noise bylaws. Bylaws can vary but will generally include set quiet hours, a specific sound level limit, the right to not be disturbed by noise and the responsibility to not make any noise that disturbs others. Make sure your AC functions within the sound level limits set out by your municipality, and follow the quiet hours guideline.

The neighbourly thing to do

If AC noise is frustrating those around you, getting to know your neighbours and being open to modifying your air conditioner usage will go a long way to keeping the peace in the neighbourhood. It might be as simple as opening a few windows and setting it to start later in the day so your neighbours can have a few quiet hours in the morning, shutting it down to allow young children to nap or to go to bed in quiet or perhaps running it only when necessary.

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