3 ways pool owners can combat drought – and save green

| January 28, 2014 | 0 Comments

Governor Jerry Brown recently called California’s drought an “unprecedented serious situation,” which in politicalspeak is like screaming fire in crowded theater. Forbes took the alarm bell and ran with it, posting a provocative editorial headlined “To End California Drought, Fill More Hollywood And Silicon Valley Swimming Pools.”

pool cover

Far from being pointless formalities, pool covers can save owners thousands of gallons of water. From Valerie Everett.

As climate change takes deeper hold, drought has become an issue across the Southwest — exactly where you’ll find the bulk of the nation’s pools. But in the face of this growing crisis, the author, a policy wonk with FEMA — not to mention Forbes’ overzealous headline writers — miss the point about water and pools entirely.

It’s true pools use water and can be energy hogs. Pool owners might feel squeamish about filling up during a drought. But rather than apologize for pools or advocate shutting them down, why not take steps to make pools more sustainable? The video with this post shows how innovative such answers can be. But there are simple ways to make pools more sustainable, too. Here are three.

  1. Pool covers. One of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to save water and energy is with a pool cover. On the water front, covers reduce evaporation 90 to 95 percent. During the summer a cover can save 7,000 gallons of water just in reduced evaporation. The U.S. Department of Energy also says pool owners can save 50 to 70 percent in heating costs just by using a pool cover.
  2. Variable speed drive pumps. All inground swimming pools have pumps. Pumps recirculate the water in a given amount of time depending on the size. But when pools aren’t in use (at night, for instance) pumps don’t need to run as powerfully. Typical pumps don’t have this ability, but variable speed drive pumps do. Just using one on a commercial pool can save more than 80 percent in energy costs. Slowing the velocity of the water also reduces evaporation, thus saving water.
  3. Solar pool heaters. One of the biggest costs of a pool is heating the water. You can reduce those costs significantly with a solar pool heater. The systems cost just about the same as a heat pump and will pay for themselves in 1.5 to 7 years, depending on size and location, according to the DOE. Just as important, they’ll help turn your pool from an energy hog into a shining example of energy efficiency.

Category: Pools, Sustainability

About the Author

Gary Thill is the former editor of Aquatics International, an award-winning magazine for the commercial pool and waterpark markets. He is a nationally recognized writer and editor with an extensive communications background that includes print, online and social media.
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