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Earth Day

Earth Day! – What about the swimming pool?

We are getting into the spirit of Earth Day (22 April 2012), and have been considering whether swimming pools are as Earth-friendly as they could be. You’ll find that in most cases – particularly with pools more than five years old – there are some fairly simple things that can be done to make your pool more environmentally friendly and save money in the process. In fact, many conservation-minded pool owners have found that the possibilities to go green with the pool is greater, cheaper and easier than the “in home” opportunities.

Here are a few suggestions to consider:

The pump: Most people don’t realise that a pool pump will use more energy than almost any other appliance in the home. In general, water needs to be circulated through the filter at least once (in winter) and preferably twice (in summer) every 24 hours. Keeping this in mind ensure that you adjust your filtration time according to the seasons to reduce the filtration run time to the minimum required. Make sure that you have a good quality pool timer and that you are clear about its operation and settings.

It may sound frivolous, but make sure that your pump is sized to the filter and the pool optimally. Having a pump even one size larger than required may, require an additional 33% in energy without any noticeable advantage in results. Pool pumps should operate smoothly and quietly if your pump is noisy it may be an indication of wear and maintenance may be required. A worn pump (especially bearings) leads to greater energy demands.

Heating / covers: Reduce heat loss by using a pool cover. This is especially applicable where a heat pump is used as opposed to solar heating, however having to pump the water over the roof for a solar system also demands additional energy. Energy savings of 50% - 70% are possible by simply keeping the pool covered when not in use. Walls, hedges and landscaping that shelter your pool from prevailing winds will further reduce heat loss.
Solar heating systems may also reduce energy requirements for pool heating, both where used as an alternative to and in conjunction with a heat pump.

If you use your pool only on weekends, reduce your heater or heat pump thermostats settings during the week. When leaving for vacation for more than a week, turn off the pool heater or heat pump.

Saltwater Chlorinators: A Saltwater Chlorinators converts ordinary table salt — roughly a teaspoon per 10 litres of pool water—into pure chlorine, allowing the pool owner to reduce costs and the risk of transporting, handling and storing chlorine in its standard chemical form.

Tip: Place you garden hose into the weir / skimmer and turn the tap on while backwashing. This will not only save you the loss of excessive amounts of salt from your pool water but also reduce the environmental impact by reducing the salinity of waste water, which may then be reusable. This clearly also reduces the amount of top up water required over and above.

Lights: LED pool lights are a much more energy-efficient option when compared to traditional incandescent and halogen pool lights. As an example, LED bulbs use as much as 90 percent less electricity than a regular incandescent bulb; the LED requires only about 9 watts to produce a comparable amount of brightness to a 75 watt incandescent.

Baskets & backwash: Keep the weir and pump baskets clear of debris. Clogged baskets require the pump to work much harder. To obtain maximum filtration and energy efficiency from your pump, backwash or clean your filter regularly or even as required during the windy season.

Water savings: Without a swimming pool cover, more than half the water in your pool can possibly evaporate in one year. Using a cover regularly reduces evaporation by up to 90%. Decreasing the occurrence and amount of wind going across the pool will cut down on evaporation. Walls, hedges and landscaping that shelter your pool from prevailing winds will assist in reducing evaporation.

Leaks: So how do you check for leaks? Water-saturated soil near the pool, pumps or pool plumbing equipment is a good indication. Check for leaking pipes, valves and fittings. Loose tiles or cracks could be an indicator of a leak. Sudden unexpected fill requirements greater than the typical weekly average fill, could also indicate a leak. Monitor your water bill; any substantial unexplained changes in your water bill might also signal a possible leak or other problem that will need further investigation.

Reuse Backwash Water: Empty the filter backwash onto lawns and shrubs or collect it to reuse. Reuse the water for any suitable application but do not return backwash water to the pool, even if treated.

Fountains & Waterfalls: When aeration occurs, a significant amount of water (and chemicals) can be lost to evaporation. Sure, they look pretty and you love to hear the sound of running water. Compromise; Only run pool fountains and waterfalls when you're entertaining.

Pool Water Level: Keeping the water level lower conserves water and helps to reduce water loss from extreme splashing and boisterous water play. It's a good idea to keep the water level in the middle of the weir / skimmer opening. Try to discourage swimmers from splashing by explaining to them that the water needs to stay in the pool.

With the help of the above few tips we hope that we have inspired you to run a “greener” pool and that it becomes a habit that you apply to all areas. Have any great ideas? Let us know!