Earth Day is but one day of the year, and of course we should be mindful of our planet every day, but Earth Day gives us that one day to personally reflect and focus on how we, each individual, impacts our environment. Everything that each one of us owns and does somehow affects our planet, and I would like to take this Earth Day to help you better understand how to make your pool friendlier to the environment.
Your pool – with the chemicals, pumps and heaters, may not be a shining example of earth friendly modern conveniences, but there are simple and inexpensive things you can do to reduce your pool’s impact on our planet. And remember that every little bit helps.
Let’s start with pool chemicals. Just the word “chemicals” makes pool chemicals less environmentally friendly, but, believe it or not, there are many pool chemicals that are are made with natural ingredients. Natural Chemistry and SeaKlear offer stain removers, filter cleaners, enzymes, clarifiers, and metal removers that help keep your pool water clearer and cleaner. There are also chlorine-free sanitizers like Aqua Silk, and you can use non-chlorine pool shock to oxidize your pool.
A great way to reduce chlorine consumption is to install a salt chlorine generator. A chlorine generator produces chlorine naturally from salt to sanitize your pool without the use of chlorine tablets. Another way is with a pool Mineral system or a pool UV system, which work very well at removing contaminants and algae, but you will still need to use some chlorine, but only half as much.
Now for your pool pump. Inefficient pool pumps can use as much energy as a home air conditioner, but you can reduce the environmental impact from your pool pump. First, get a pool pump that is the right size for the design flow rate of your pool filter. A pump that is too big draws more amps than needed, when a smaller, more energy efficient pump would get the job done just as well. The biggest eco-gain however is upgrading to a variable speed pool pump – saves over 70% in energy use when compared to standard single speed pool pumps.
You can also run your pump and filter system during off-peak hours – outside of the 9-5 peak demand hours. However, to avoid cloudy water, algae and bacteria during hot and sunny periods, mid-day pump runs may be needed. You can use several sets of pump timer trippers to keep your pool water from sitting stagnant for long periods of time. Or, use Intermatic’s digital pool timer to program several pump runs throughout the day and night.
Covering your pool. A pool cover, or more specifically, a solar blanket will greatly reduce evaporation which conserves water, but equally important, less pool water evaporation also means less pool heat loss and also fewer chemicals used. The thought of having to roll out a solar cover after using the pool and roll it back up to get in the pool deters many from covering the pool all the time. However, a solar cover reel makes the process much easier.
Creating natural wind breaks around your pool is a great way to reduce evaporation as well. Planting taller grasses or bushes to form a natural wall to block wind from hitting your pool does a surprisingly good job of preventing evaporation. Wind breaks also help keep the pool water and swimmers warmer which makes the pool more enjoyable without excess energy to keep it warm.
Heating the Pool. Solar pool heaters are very popular with pool owners since they are very effective, easy to understand, inexpensive to buy and free to use. The solar heater absorbs the energy of the sun and transfers the warmth to the water. They don’t work on rainy days, and also don’t work at night of course, and as such are best used with a solar cover to retain heat at night and during rainy days.
A pool heat pump combines the use of solar energy and a small amount of electricity to draw in sun-warmed air around your pool, and transfer the air’s warmth to your pool water with zero emissions. A heat pump costs more than a gas pool heater initially, but the energy savings will more than pay for the heat pump within 2-3 pool seasons.
Hopefully these green concepts for your pool will help you gain confidence and give you ideas to make your own pool more eco-friendly. Don’t think you have to do everything to your pool all at once, but try to do something every year; every little bit helps.
If you have ideas on making your pool greener, let us know by leaving a comment for other pool owners to create a more environmentally friendly pool in their backyard as well.
InTheSwim Staff Blogger