by Michael Cancio, October 23, 2009
It is that time of year again to begin worrying about having to keep your swimming pool heated. The current state of the economy is making us all "tighten our belts" a little bit, and normally, the first thing to get trimmed are the luxury items; such as, your backyard swimming pool. That said, it is then very important to keep those operating costs for continued swimming pool enjoyment to a minimum. Today we will discuss many ways you can keep your pool heated longer into the Fall and Winter and still have some money left in your wallet. The first and most obvious is turning down the thermostat (just like in your house, closely monitoring your thermostat will instantly save you money). Lowering your set temperature will keep your heater from having to run as much and still keep it luke warm enough to use for swimming your laps when you wake first thing in the morning or after you return from work in the evening.
One of the most often overlooked elements surrounding heat-loss from your swimming pool is, believe it or not; the wind. So, logically, planting some nice thick hedges (green alternative) around the perimeter of the pool will definitely help with decreasing your pools heat loss and also give it a more private feel, not to mention the aesthetic benefit. Simply plant them and watch them grow, nature does the rest. If you don't have the space or want hedges, pool fencing is another alternative to prevent wind from robbing your pool of its heat.
Sticking to our "green" way of reducing your heating cost we'll focus on the Sun. Yes, depending on your climate and general geographic area where you reside, using some solar (green) alternatives range from the fairly inexpensive to the more pricey up-front cost; however, using a solar alternative produces a return on your investment the minute it is installed. Whether it is using Solar Rings spread across the surface of your pool in separate rings, a complete Solar Blanket that covers the entire surface of your pool for maximum heat absorption, a liquid solar blanket which you pour into your pool and creates a clear invisible heat absorbing cover on the surface of your pool, or using a solar panel heater that heats water and returns it to your pool powered by the Sun (green!). Solar heat has been proven to literally pay for itself within 1-3 years (return on your investment) by drastically reducing heating costs; depending on your use, amount of panels, placement, climate, pool size, etc In short, there is no better solution to reduce your pool heating costs than using solar, and it just does not get any more environmentally friendly. Enersol solar panels are available here.
Keeping your swimming pool covered will dramatically decrease your heating costs. Some ideas/options include, pool safety covers, auto-covers, Sun Domes, and Attic Heaters. Swimming pool safety covers are relatively light-weight and are somewhat easy to release and pull over the deck. They will reduce heat loss and in turn reduce your heating costs. The auto-cover is an expensive option and is something that is much easier to have installed when your swimming pool is built, because the installer can build it into the ground at one end of the pool which is less of an eye-sore. Post-installation requires costly planning, consultation, re-designing, and digging which can compromise the integrity of your pool in the long-run, but there is nothing like having an automatic cover (electric) to use. It could actually pay for itself in reduced heating costs over the life of the pool. The benefits of having and using an auto-cover are immense; however, they are costly to install and maintain. The newest alternative is the Sun Dome. It is a lightweight enclosure (bubble) that fits most round or oval above-ground pools and spas; there is also a Sun Dome for in-ground rectangle shaped pools. It will heat the pool water and air acting as a passive solar cover (like a greenhouse).
The dome will keep your pool clean and lessens the use of chemicals as well. The Sun Dome itself is made of 12 mil double polished clear vinyl, and the frame is made from 1" aluminum tubing. Convenient screened-in windows allow for cross-ventilation and keep out bugs! Overall, it extends your swimming season, giving you much more use of your pool. Another interesting alternative is the attic heater. It acts to harness the heat (hot air) trapped in your attic and with the use of a small condenser (like a radiator on steroids?) heats the swimming pool water via the hot air from your attic and then returns the heated water to your swimming pool. The attic solar heater is the most respected and sought after solar heating alternative to solar panels. It will also cool your attic! Brilliant!