When It Comes to Pools, Saving Energy Saves Money
A lot more than water can go down the drain with a pool that isn’t utilizing its strengths. There are a few ways to save a dollar or two that may just save a few trees in the process. Alaina Jarrell, the assistant general manager of Stafford Hills Club in Tualatin, Oregon, provided some insights into pinching your pool’s pennies, without having to dive for them at the bottom of the pool.
The first area to evaluate is the type of maintenance equipment you are using. One way to really cut down on unnecessary overhead costs is to take a look at your energy conservation. “The sun eats up chlorine,” said Jarrell, of Stafford’s outdoor pool. Although costly upfront, investing in a pool blanket or cover can not only save water and heat costs down the road, but it also may result in a tax write-off.
When it comes to pool covers there are several different types to consider: automatic and vinyl safety covers, plastic bubble covers and liquid solar pool covers. The first two of these are thick, tarp-like stretches of material that cover pools when they are not in use, in order to insulate and prevent constant water evaporation.
Water evaporation sucks up heat, which leads to an increased need for energy to reheat the pool, as well as add more chlorine back in. “We have an automatic pool cover,” said Jarrell. “Our pool is outdoors, and it gets covered nightly. This helps to keep the evaporation at bay. It helps with the costs of heat as well as chlorine.” Outside of labor costs to cover and uncover the pool daily, if a manual blanket is purchased, savings can still total close to $11,000 in energy costs per year.
Contrary to its name, liquid pool covers such as Heatsavr, don’t actually cover water. Instead, these products can automatically be set to dispense one ounce of formula per 400 square feet of surface area per day. This means you don’t have to physically do much, and it leaves your pool open, which can be more aesthetically pleasing. Meanwhile, it saves up to 50 percent of your average water loss by helping maintain the average temperature of the water.
The pool systems at Stafford Hills are especially unique in their heating methods. “The system pulls water and runs it up and through the panels on the roof to help heat the water through solar energy,” said Jarrell. “It’s smart enough to keep the temperature at a specified degree [80-83 degrees]. So if it’s too warm it will cool the water down, but if it’s too cold it will pull from that solar heat.” Since Stafford Hills is taking advantage of energy and heat created by the sun, it doesn’t have to spend nearly as much to keep the pool heated.
A final energy-conserving step aquatic facilities could take is the installation of an ultra-violet (UV) water cleaning system. This kind of system uses ultra-violet light to kill bacteria. “We use an ultra-violet system on our Splash Pad,” said Jarrell. The Splash Pad is a circular, recreational fountain-like area on the pool deck. “It is recommended to use the UV system on top of regular filtration because of [the Splash Pad’s] popularity with younger children.” Because of its need for a little extra cleaning, the Splash Pad has its own filtration system and chlorinator.
UV cleaning systems only require a tenth of the current chlorine used in an average pool, so it would not only save a few thousand dollars in chemical costs a year, it also requires less electricity for heating. Therefore, it saves even more energy, and in turn, money. “The UV light puts off enough energy to heat the water to a comfortable level.”
While many of these upgrades have a high up-front cost associated with them, which can scare off aquatic operators, most of these upgrades pay for themselves very quickly through tax credits and typical aquatics energy bills. “The initial cost is always a little higher, but long term it may save on chemical components and more,” said Jarrell.