NATIONAL REPORT—Swimming pools are an important part of life for many people. When the temperatures heat up a swimming pool allows us to cool off, relax, and distract ourselves from our day-to-day stresses. As people become more environmentally conscious, however, more and more people are looking at the impact their behavior has on the world around them including their swimming pools. Traditionally, pools can be harsh on the environment as they use a lot of energy, water, and sometimes harmful chemicals.
As a pool owner, you may even want to investigate your energy and water sources to see the true impact of your pool. For example, is your pool powered by energy from coal or renewable resources like gas and wind? Also, when you fill your pool, how far is that water traveling and what source is it coming from? Local water is more sustainable as it uses fewer resources to get it from point A to point B.
Day-to-day pool ownership requires more than just energy and water, however. So once you assess your situation on those points you can turn to some of the day-to-day maintenance that can make your pool more sustainable.
Choose Eco-friendly Pool Chemicals
Chlorine is the most popular chemical used to clean swimming pools, particularly because of its effectiveness. It is also very harsh, as it can be very hard on a person’s hair, eyes, and skin. It comes with its share of negative environmental side effects. The manufacturing process of chlorine creates mercury emissions, and once poured into your pool it may cause ozone pollution. Further, the Environmental Protection Agency considers it to be a pesticide, so cutting down or eliminating its use is certainly beneficial for the environment.
There are several alternatives you can use to replace chlorine, including ozonator systems, polyhexamethylene biguanide, and natural mineral sanitizers. One option here is a company called Natural Chemistry, but you may want to talk to your local pool professional to see which of these alternatives are the best way to help you move to a more eco-friendly pool.
If you really want to think outside the box you can also consider using plants to clean your swimming pool water. An all-natural pool includes a variety of native aquatic plants to purify the water. These natural swimming pools tend to be much more expensive, and the more pond-like feel may not be for everyone, but they are probably the most sustainable way to keep a clean pool.
Use Solar Energy or a Heat Pump
Electric pool heaters are expensive, but many people rely on them to extend their pool season. Electric or gas heaters can be major resource hogs, and it is hard to maintain a green pool when you are using excessive amounts of (often) non-renewable energy. Fortunately, there is a much more environmentally friendly option—solar pool heaters.
Solar heaters take a bit longer to heat up your pool, but once you have it up and running, you will be able to harness the sun’s energy to keep your pool warm while the more energy-efficient approach also cuts down on your monthly energy costs. A solar heater kills two birds with one stone, making your pool more environmentally friendly while saving you money.
In warmer climates, another great option for warming your water is a heat pump. While these pumps are electric, they use little energy as they pull thermal energy from the air and transfer it to your pool water. You will just need to make sure you keep your pump clean so it’s running efficiently.
Consider Robotic Pool Cleaners
A sustainable pool makes use of the simplest, fastest, and affordable ways to keep your pool running in tip-top shape. Robotic pool cleaners are one of the best ways to keep your pool running efficiently. Having a robotic pool cleaner means your pool will require fewer chemicals and means your pool filter will not have to work nearly as hard, which means you’ll use less energy—with up to 90 percent savings compared to traditional pool cleaners. For the ultimate in eco-friendly pool cleaning, you can even choose solar-powered robotic cleaners.
Regular Maintenance of Pool Filters
Another way to help maintain an eco-friendly pool is by cleaning your pool filters. This ensures that your pool consumes less energy. Dirty pool filters overwork your pump and make the cleaning agents less effective.
Depending on the type of filters you have this can be incredibly easy or a bit tedious. Sand filters or DE (dichotomous earth) filters will need to be backwashed, while cartridge filters will need to be replaced on occasion. Either way, keeping up on your filters will improve your pool’s performance and decrease your energy usage.
DE and sand filters should be cleaned about once per month or when the pressure reaches a certain threshold above average (typically ~8 psi).
Adding a Timer to Your Pool Pumps
Most pool owners let circulation pumps work for longer hours than they should. This consumes unnecessary energy, which ends up wasting energy and adding more monthly expenses to your overall pool maintenance costs. With proper sizing of your pump to the pool’s volume, the pump should run for a maximum of six hours per day.
Turning the pump on and off is often an annoying task that causes it to run unnecessarily and affects the circulation of pool water. However, by adding a timer to the pump system, you will have a sure-fire way of ensuring your water gets filtered regularly without needlessly wasting energy.
Wrapping It Up
Owning a pool is a big responsibility, and that can extend to your pool’s impact on the environment. The tips mentioned above may help you reduce your environmental impact while also helping you save money. Contact your local pool professional for more environmentally friendly pool tips.