by Myles McMorrow, May 12, 2009
With a growing trend of eco-friendly products on the market, most people are trying to do their part to save our planet. A lot of these folks are trying cutting back on power consumption and the use of fossil fuels. What many swimming pool owners do not know that swimming pools can be green too (I am not talking about algae in the water).
There are many products on the market and techniques you can use to make a pool more eco-friendly and help cut back on energy costs. I will cover most in this article to educate all of you pool owners out there.
Most pool heat is lost from the surface of the pool water. Wind accelerates the heat loss. By installing a solid fence or planting shrubs around the pool you can slow heat loss (and evaporation too). Keeping more heat in the pool will save on heating too.
The biggest source of free energy on the planet, is the sun. The sun of course heats the pool, but also evaporates your pool water. There has been a product on the market for about 30 years now that is nontoxic and biodegradable that does two things for your pool. The first is it slows evaporation of the water (some farmers also use this in irrigation ponds). If you have water evaporating from a pool the heat loss is greater than a pool that is not. The second thing is a byproduct of the first; it slows down the heat loss, keeping the pool water warmer. We have more product info on Liquid Solar Blanket here.
Solar swimming pool blankets have been on the market for a long time now and have the dual benefit of being able to stop heat loss and absorb solar heat into your pool. Essentially, solar blankets are a thicker version of bubble wrap, extruded in long sheets. Thicker solar covers are usually worth paying the extra money for.
A variation of this product is the solar sun ring that is a 5 foot round in shape and link up with each other via magnet. Many people think they are easier to remove and store over a large pool sized piece of plastic. Solar Rings or Solar Blankets can raise the pool water temperature up to 10 degrees.
Now for the next part of the power of the sun, free heat. For years now people have used the sun to heat their pools using solar heat. What you might not know is the US Department of Energy says solar pool heating is the most efficient use of solar energy available ( yep, that’s right - beats solar electricity production). Have you ever been on top of a roof in the middle of summer? Then you know the temperature can reach over 140 degrees. Why not put that heat in the pool? Solar panels are fairly inexpensive and will begin paying for themselves immediately.
Solar Pool Heaters are easy to install and can be used to pre heat the water before conventional gas or electric pool heater to keep the gas and power bills lower. There are many types of Solar Pool Heaters on the market with many installation options from roof tops to fences to just lying on the ground. If you have the room, why not get free heat and lower your bills, right? The cost of a solar pool heating system for a 40,000 gallon pool (about 20x40 ft & 8 ft deep) is under $2000 DIY installed. If you have a gas heater you can install the solar panels before the heater, or with the use of a solar pool heat controller, operate the two as needed to produce the desired pool heat, at the lowest cost.
Anyone that has an attic knows how hot they get from the sun on the roof. This next product will save you in two ways. It is called Solar Attic. It is a fan powered heat exchanger that the pool water gets pumped up to. It takes the heat from your attic and puts it in to the pool water. The byproduct is it cools your attic saving even more on air conditioning costs and helps keeps your house cooler.
Over the years heat pumps have worked their way into the pool industry with builders using them to replace gas heaters. They are great for maintaining water tempterature, but will have trouble heating a hot tub. Pool Heat Pumps will heat the water if the outside air temp is in the 50s but you get to a point where your heat loss is greater than what you put in. Very popular in Florida, pool heat pumps work well in all areas of the United States.
If you do the math you will see running a heat pump at those temps will not do much to heat the pool. Pool heat pumps use a technology that operates like a reverse refrigerator. It compresses a gas to produce heat transfer from the outside air temp. They are cheaper to run than a gas heater and can be installed with a companion solar pool heater to keep pool heating bills even lower.
So, there you have it - some simple ways to have warm water in your pool - while keeping your swimming pool carbon footprint to a minimum!