Heating your pool can be extremely costly if you aren’t careful. The last thing you want is for your heating bill to be so high that it takes all the fun out of having a swimming pool. You have it for pleasure, after all, not added stress.
Firstly, consider that every pool is in a unique environment and that there are various things which affect its temperature. The external temperature, the position of the pool in your yard, the amount of sun your pool gets, the amount of wind it is exposed to, humidity levels and temperatures that drop sharply at night are all contributing factors. You will have no control over any of these things unless you are still in the process of planning your pool.
What you can do is improve your swimming pool’s heating and energy efficiency. You can install a pool heater, control evaporation, use a smaller pump less often, use a pool cover and create windbreaks using plants or fencing. Sometimes you need to employ two or more of these methods to maximize the energy efficiency of your pool.
Install a pool heater
The surface area of your pool and the average air temperatures will determine what size heat pump you need for your pool. All too often energy efficiency is compromised by pumps that are too small or too big for the pool.
There are gas, solar and heat pump swimming pool heaters.
Gas Pool Heaters
Gas pool heaters burn natural gas or propane in the heaters combustion chamber which heats the water as it is pumped through the filter and back into the pool. This method of heating a pool is not as energy-efficient as other methods. Gas pool heaters are best suited for quickly heating a pool so are ideal for swimming pools that aren’t used often. One feature of a gas pool heater that neither a heat pump nor solar heater has, is the ability to maintain water temperature no matter what the ambient temperature is.
Solar Pool Heaters
Solar Pool Heaters generally consist of a solar collector that pool water is pumped through to be heated, a filter to remove debris from the water before it goes into the collector, a pump which help circulate the water through the system and a valve that controls the flow and diverts water to the collector. Solar pool heaters are the most cost-effective and energy-efficient ways of heating a pool in most climates. They have low maintenance costs and are more durable than other heating pumps. In very hot climates you can use the system to cool pools down by pumping water through it at night.
Heat Pump Heater
Heat Pumps don’t generate heat; they capture air from the atmosphere and use it to transfer heat to the water through a low energy process. Heat Pump heaters work quickly and are most efficient in mild climates. They use more energy if cooler air is drawn in. One of the benefits of a Heat Pump heater is that they heat your swimming pool whether the sun is shining or not. The financial initial outlay is higher than for a Gas Pool heater but annual operating costs are much lower which saves money in the long run.
A swimming pool loses the most energy through evaporation. An enormous amount of energy is required in the evaporation process. Generally, 20% of energy is lost to the sky through radiation, 10% to the ground and a whopping 70% is lost to evaporation.
Install a Roller Cover
You can reduce evaporation by installing a solid blanket pool cover that works on an automated roller shutter system. A large piece of heavy-duty vinyl that doubles as a safety ‘blanket’ is rolled out to cover the entire surface of the pool. This cover reduces evaporation to near zero. The only real issue with this system is that the material used is not environmentally friendly.
Use a Swimming Pool Cover
A swimming pool cover reduces heating costs substantially. Not only do they have a major impact on evaporation but they also reduce the size of the heating system you will require. Using a swimming pool cover is probably the most efficient way of bringing down the costs of heating your pool. Swimming pool covers can save you 50%-70% on your heating costs. They also help with reducing the need to ventilate indoor pools so frequently because the evaporation is minimal.
The best covers to use are bubble solar covers that have been designed specifically for swimming pools. They are made from special UV-stabilized polyethene or vinyl. Covers come in a range of colors and transparencies. Remember that outdoor swimming pools absorb 75%-85% of the solar energy hitting the surface of the pool. You need to take into account that a pool cover will reduce this absorption somewhat. Transparent bubble covers will reduce absorption less than an opaque cover does.
If you are swimming during the day you should take the cover off just before you swim and put it back on straight afterwards. When it is warm and humid during the day there is far less evaporation so it would be better to leave the cover off.
Solar pool covers offer additional benefits too. They reduce your need for top-up water by 20%-50%, they reduce your chemical usage by 35%-60% and they save you on cleaning time as they stop debris from flying into the pool.
If you are still planning your pool you will make a big difference to the long-term economics of heating it if you do these five things:
1. Place it in the sunniest spot possible.
2. Install some kind of panel insulation in the retaining structure.
3. Plan your pump and filtration system carefully.
4. Protect it from the wind without creating too much shade.
5. Choose color carefully – a darker color absorbs heat and a lighter color doesn’t.
As you can see, a little bit of planning and consideration of your specific requirements will go a long way to keeping heating costs down and ensuring your swimming pool brings you nothing but joy.