There’s a hidden cost in every hair dryer, dishwasher and blender you buy.
And that’s noise.
Undesirable sound, whether at home, on the street or in the office, can have adverse effects, ranging from language comprehension difficulties in children to adult anxiety and even depression.
So if you’re shopping for a new appliances this holiday season, start considering noise levels (and your own mental health) as an important factor in your decision-making, right alongside the price tag and environmental impact.
Helping you find household serenity: Quiet Mark, a UK-based organization (associated with the Noise Abatement Society) that “encourages companies to prioritize noise reduction within the design of everyday machines.” The association isn’t offering empty accolades, either; QM conducts acoustic analysis on a wide range of appliances, and certifies/awards products (from air conditioning to washer-dryers) with a Quiet Mark designation if they reach a certain low-noise threshold.
Although they call England home, Quiet Mark is a global organization and has recently teamed up with Good Housekeeping Institute USA to provide reviews and ratings for the publication.
To learn more about QM-certified appliances and noise reduction, we spoke with Poppy Szkiler, the CEO and founder of Quiet Mark. “It’s all about reducing unnecessary sonic drama and making our homes and living spaces a sanctuary of harmonious sound,” as she tells us.
An edited version of our email interview is below.
InsideHook: What was the inspiration behind Quiet Mark?
Poppy Szkiler: My grandfather founded the Noise Abatement Society in 1959, after lobbying the Noise Abatement Act through British Parliament. From his work, noise pollution became acknowledged as a pollutant and statutory nuisance for the first time. My mother Gloria continued in her father’s footsteps as CEO of the Noise Abatement Society. And at 30, I had an epiphany which altered the direction of my life profoundly, with the revelation my family had started an important legacy I must continue for the next generation as noise pollution was a mighty battle still to be won.
Today, Quiet Mark-awarded products offer the reassurance that they deliver the quietest user experience whilst providing an excellent core function. It’s valuable help for open plan living, night-time usage, busy families and supporting hearing sensitivities, including autism, dementi, and general health, as we understand how much noise and sound impacts how the whole of our body and powerfully changes how our mind and emotions function.
How do you pick the products to test?
Manufacturers submit products for testing because they recognize that the distinctive purple ‘Q’ symbol is awarded following a rigorous testing and approval process from Quiet Mark’s expert acoustics team. From working with retailers and manufacturers over the years, we know that products carrying the Quiet Mark significantly outperform sales of louder products category by category.
How does a product get awarded?
Quiet Mark conducts expert acoustic testing of products and verification assessments of manufacturers’ performance claims to identify the quietest products across numerous categories from current market samples, which are reassessed annually as new models or products come onto the market.
Sound is measured in decibels, which is a logarithmic measurement of the effective sound pressure of a sound relative to a reference value. It is really important to note every three decibels increase equates to a perceived doubling of the noise level. Therefore It can be very difficult to communicate the difference in sound loudness between for example, 2dB, 3dB and 4dB:
Large appliances are all tested to specific legal standards; this way decibel levels, found on energy labels, can be directly compared to each other. For small appliances such as kettles, juicers and food processors, there are currently no such standards. We test these products ourselves in our domestic kitchen test room, set up to replicate the noise you can expect at home.
There are several categories on the Quiet Mark website that are listed as “under assessment” and have no listed products. Does that mean the products haven’t been tested, or that you haven’t found one that fits your criteria?
The demand for Quiet Mark awards is growing daily, and although we have tested thousands of products there are always new products to certify and new categories that request accreditation. We only publish awarded products on the website once our process is complete.
What are a few standout, Quiet Mark-approved products that you’d recommend?
High-performance pressure washers: Kärcher
Hair dryer: Supersonic by Dyson
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