Victorians will be able to run their air conditioners all night, regardless of the noise generated, if a Heat Health Alert has been issued for the area, under changes to the Residential Noise Regulations.
The Heat Health Alert exemption was added in a recent update to the Environmental Protection (Residential Noise) Regulations, which was informed by two periods of community feedback earlier this year.
The updated regulations will also increase the current 10pm limit on air conditioner noise to 11pm.
The regulations prohibit air conditioner noise before 7am on weekdays and 9am on weekends and public holidays, which is unchanged.
EPA Policy and Regulation Director Johanna Bidwell said while noisy air conditioners were not an ideal situation, the health of vulnerable residents had to come first during Heat Health Alert days.
“Heat Health Alert days are identified by the Chief Health Officer when the chance of heat-related illness and mortality increases substantially,” she said.
“We recognise that when an alert is active it is in the interest of public health that people, especially vulnerable groups, including the elderly and young children, are able to use their air conditioners with no time restrictions.”
Ms Bidwell said the review of the residential noise regulations this year found that they continue to effectively address the main sources of noise that cause people concern.
“Many people will not have been aware that there are time restrictions on air conditioner noise,” she said.
“But when residents are disturbed by the noise from air conditioners, or a range of other prescribed items including musical instruments, tools and televisions, there needs to be a cut off time to protect their wellbeing.
“If you are operating any of these prescribed items, your neighbours should not be able to hear these items while inside their homes.”
Noise regulations are shared across a number of agencies, including local government and Victoria Police.
“The most complained about noise is barking dogs, which should be reported to your local council, living activities and domestic appliances,” Ms Bidwell said.
“People’s lifestyles are changing, more people are working from home and working irregular hours and residential density in some areas is increasing which causes noise pollution to be more noticeable.
“To help address this, EPA are working with local government on ways to encourage communication between neighbours to reduce friction and increase understanding of the regulations about issues like party or renovation noise.”
For more information about Heat Health Alerts visit:
To read the Residential Noise Regulations visit: https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/about-us/legislation/noise-legislation#noiseregs
Or read EPA’s Annoyed by noise publication.