How to Have an Environmentally Friendly, Energy Efficient Swimming Pool
“Going Green” means learning techniques and engaging in practices that translate into more environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible results. Going Green helps protect the environment and maintains its natural resources for current and future generations. Many people would agree that caring for the environment is our responsibility as consumers of it. When it comes to owning a backyard swimming pool, we can make a big difference to reduce the amount of energy lost so that we can be environmentally responsible while, at the same time, enjoying the luxury of swimming and entertaining at home.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, backyard swimming pools lose energy in a number of ways, but evaporation is the most significant source of energy loss. In fact, 70% of energy loss in swimming pools can be attributed to evaporation. Evaporating water requires tremendous amounts of energy. It only takes 1 BTU (British Thermal Unit) to increase the temperature of 1 pound of water by 1 degree, but each pound of 80 degree F water that evaporates takes an enormous 1,048 BTUs of heat out of the pool.
The evaporation rate from a backyard pool depends on the pool’s temperature, on air temperature and humidity, and on the wind speed at the pool’s surface. The higher the temperature of the pool, the higher the wind speed, and the lower the humidity, the greater the rate of evaporation. If you live in a windy area, you can add a windbreak, such as trees, shrubs, or a fence, to decrease evaporation. The windbreak should be high enough and near enough to the pool so that it doesn’t create turbulence over the pool, which will increase evaporation. You also don’t want the windbreak to block the sun from the pool; the sun helps to heat the pool and keeps it warm over time.
Creating an environmentally friendly swimming pool that is energy efficient is easy to do. This article will address four easy ways to accomplish this.
1. Solar Pool Covers
First step to make a swimming pool energy efficient, use Solar Covers, also known as solar blankets, to cover your pool. Solar Pool Covers or Blankets resemble enormous sheets of bubble wrap. The bubbles trap heat from the sun and convey the heat to the pool, keeping the water temperature warm and comfortable. The solar cover also helps to trap the water’s heat and prevents heat loss in the cooler air at night or on cooler days. Solar covers float freely on top of a pool without the need for tie-downs or anchors to hold them in place. Solar covers are usually folded and stored or rolled up in a large roll and wheeled out of the way. Solar Blankets are perfect for use in sunny climates because the more heat they can trap, the longer they can extend the swim season. Solar pool covers can increase water temperatures by as much as 10-15 degrees.
Besides offering energy savings, pool covers also do the following:
- Save water by decreasing the amount of make-up water needed by 30%-50%;
- Reduce the pool’s consumption of chemicals by 35%-60%;
- Reduce cleaning time by preventing dirt and other debris from entering the pool.
2. Solar Pool Heater
A second way to create an energy efficient pool is to use a Solar Pool Heater. Solar heaters provide another way of taking advantage of the sun’s free energy. Solar Heaters are tremendously efficient, cheap to operate, and are the ultimate in environmental friendliness. When combined with a solar pool cover, a Solar Pool Heater will maintain a comfortable water temperature well into the cooler months.
Most solar pool heating systems include the following elements:
- A solar collector — Pool water is circulated through this device so that it can be heated by the sun;
- A filter — Debris is removed in the filter before water is pumped through the collector;
- A pump — Pool water is circulated through the filter and collector and back to the pool thanks to the pump;
- A flow control valve — Pool water is diverted through the solar collector through this automatic or manual device.
3. Pool Filter Timer
A third way to save energy is to use a Pool Filter Timer. Automating a pool’s filter operation pays for itself in energy savings within the first couple of months. Except during times of heavy use, most swimming pools only need to filter 12 hours per day. Pool Filter Timers can save you money on electricity and chemicals. Most Pool Filter Timers are weather proof, durable, and have as many as 50 settings to give you ultimate control.
4. Swimming Pool Pump
The fourth way to increase energy efficiency in your swimming pool is to install and operate a swimming pool pump. You can conserve energy and sustain a comfortable swimming pool temperature by using a smaller, higher efficiency pump and by operating it less frequently. In a study of 120 pools by the Center for Energy Conservation at Florida Atlantic University, some pool owners saved as much as 75% of their original pumping bill when they used these energy conservation measures.
In summary, there are a variety of ways that we can “Go Green” while we continue to enjoy the luxury of owning a backyard swimming pool. Being environmentally friendly doesn’t mean giving up our beloved pools, it just means being smarter about how we care for and operate them.
US Department of Energy:
- A Consumer’s Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy