Swimming Pool Blog
by Rob Cox, April 22, 2012
Earth Day: How to make your pool more eco-friendly
Your swimming pool may be the largest energy using part of your entire household. Not necessarily, however. There are lots of eco-friendly pool products now that save energy, heat, chemicals and water.
There are also methods or practices that can do the same, reducing your pool's hungry demand for power, chemicals and water. This in turn will reduce the effect that your pool has on the environment.
In honor of Earth Day 2012, let's look at 5 methods and 5 products that will make your swimming pool more eco-friendly.
Green Methods of Pool Care:
1. Run the Pump Less. Some folks run the pool pump all day and night. Instead, experiment with reduced run times. With a pool pump timeclock, run the pump an hour less each week, until you notice hazy water. Then increase by 1-2 hours. With an adequate size pump/filter, you should be able to filter 10-12 hrs daily. Add more time during very hot times of the year.
2. Use fewer Chemicals. Using Conditioner, also known as Stabilizer will protect your chlorine from the sun, and you'll use far less Chlorine. Phosphate removers starve algae, and is far more efficient than repeatedly fighting with chlorine or algaecides. Keeping your pH and Alkalinity levels balanced will improve your chlorine efficacy.
3. Backwash Less. Some folks backwash once a week, whether they need to or not. Backwashing only when the pressure gauge tells you to saves time and water. Wait until the gauge is 8-10 lbs above the 'clean', or starting pressure.
Another tip is to not fully backwash, but 'bump' a D.E. filter by doing a 'quick-wash', or a backwash cycle for only 15 seconds. Return the selector to Filter position and turn on pump again for 15 secs. Repeat. Instead of fully backwashing, this process mixes up the DE cake and trapped dirt, and will extend your filter cycles, saving water and DE powder. For sand filters, backwashing for only 30 seconds can help save water, as most of the dirt is trapped in the top 2 inches of filter sand. Sand filters also tend to filter better, when they are a little bit dirty. In both cases, you will need to backwash fully eventually, when bumping no longer brings down the pressure for many days.
4. Turn down the Heat. If you use a gas pool heater, turning down the heat by just 1 degree can save 10% in gas. Reducing your natural gas consumption, may reduce 'fracking', which may reduce earthquakes! Maybe that's a stretch, but it does reduce pool heater emissions and will save you money too.
If you only use the pool on the weekends, heating it from Friday - Sunday will usually use less gas than keeping it heated all week long. Using a cover, either automatic or a solar blanket, is one of the best methods for reducing pool heater demand.
5. Keep the pool cleaner. More brushing, vacuuming and skimming. If there is less debris in the pool, you'll need less chemicals, filtering and backwashing to keep the water clear. A little more elbow grease on your part will make your pool more eco-friendly.
Green Pool Products:
1. Cartridge Filters. These are considered green because you don't need to backwash, the cartridge elements inside are removed and cleaned with a garden hose. This can save thousands of gallons per year in waste water, and reduce the amount of treated water and DE powder pumped into local watersheds.
2. DE Powder Substitutes, DE powder is organic, but it's known to be hazardous to aquatic life, in large concentrations. It is also classified as a mild carcinogenic to humans, so it may be best to limit your exposure to DE powder.
3. Mineral Purifiers. Such as Nature2 or Frog mineral systems. These use the power of copper and silver ions to reduce the amount of chlorine needed to keep your pool water clean and clear. Reducing chlorine use makes swimmers more comfortable, but also reduces the chlorine production and transportation.
4. Heat Pumps. Electric heat pumps consume about as much power as a 100 watt light bulb while they are running. In comparison to gas heaters, the equal of amount of power consumed (in gas) is thought to be up to 4x greater. Heat pump users are thrilled with their quiet pool heaters, which emit no carbon monoxide and are safe to have around the house.
5. Enzymes. The same type of enzymes that clean up oil spills can be used in your swimming pool to digest oils that use up chlorine and gum up filter media. They reduce the organic content in the water, which means you'll need less chemicals and filtering to otherwise remove.
I could go on and on with the Green Pool Products that we have that can help save money and reduce your pool's environmental impact - but I like the symmetry of 5 and 5 ~ so let's stop there.
Do something for your planet today, make one change in your pool practices or products that can make a difference!