October is National Energy Awareness Month — a month dedicated to driving awareness of ways to not only help the environment, but also save you money by helping decrease energy needs.
According to a Harris Poll of 2,000 adult Americans, 61% of Americans are not familiar with or have never heard of eco-friendly pool care products. Only 39% are familiar, yet a majority are aware of other green activities — 94% familiar with recycling, 92% with reusable shopping bags, 74% electric vehicles and 54% eco-friendly lawn care products.
Green is the last color any pool owner wants to associate with their pool, as it often brings thoughts of algae-filled water. But “going green” with eco-friendly pool care products is possible. Once more, improvements in pool equipment and technology make pool ownership eco-friendly and more affordable than ever. These upgrades will not only save energy, water, chemicals and money, but also make your pool cleaner, safer and more enjoyable.
Variable-Speed Pumps – Not many people know this, but single-speed pool pumps are second only to your home’s air conditioning system when it comes to energy usage. Circulating 10,000-plus gallons of water for 8+ hours a day requires a lot of electrical power. However, variable-speed pumps are far more efficient because they don’t operate at the same high speed all the time. They can be set to run at varying speeds according to need. The result, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, can save up to 90% on energy usage. As a bonus, they’re also quieter.
Replacing an inefficient single-speed pump with a variable-speed unit will quickly pay for itself through lower electric bills. This online tool will calculate your potential savings. Plus, the Department of Energy recently changed their requirements for pool pump efficiency. Now, almost all new and replacement pool pumps must be variable speed to meet those efficiency standards. That means you’ll likely have to buy one eventually. Why not replace it now and start the savings?
Robotic Cleaners – Pool cleaners used to be directly tied to pumps, operating only when the pump was on, which was inefficient. Energy-efficient robotic pool cleaners are totally self-contained units that have their own built-in filter to clean the pool quickly and efficiently. They operate independently of your pool pump, which saves money and allows pool owners to use the cleaner only when needed, or to set a specific cleaning schedule. Many robotic cleaners can be operated wirelessly or controlled via an app on your smartphone. Think of it as a Roomba for your pool.
Pool Lights – Just as you’ve been replacing the incandescent light bulbs in your home with more efficient, longer-lasting Light Emitting Diode — commonly known as LED — lights, it’s a great idea to also replace the old 500-watt bulbs in your pool with LED lights. They’re far less expensive to operate, last for up to 25 years and can even be programmed to change colors, which makes pool time, especially at night, a bit more festive.
You’ve got a pool filled with thousands of gallons of water, so what’s the big deal if you lose some to evaporation and maintenance?
Actually, it is important. Saving water is increasingly necessary in many parts of the country and using more than needed is not only expensive, but wasteful. The average pool loses about one-quarter inch of water per day during high summertime heat, which adds up. In certain hot and dry regions of the nation, there can be even more water loss. Here are some simple upgrades that can save water and money, as well as enhance pool-time experiences.
Solar Covers – These are one of the most affordable ways to conserve heat and reduce evaporation. In fact, solar covers reduce evaporation by up to 95%! Also known as solar blankets, these thin plastic physical covers fit any size pool. By transferring the sun’s heat, they can raise the temperature of a pool by as much as 15 degrees over the course of several sunny days, which lengthens swimming time without paying for a pool heating system.
Liquid Solar Blankets – These are an alternative to physical solar blankets, but also save money, heat and water by reducing evaporation. These additives form a thin, invisible barrier on the pool water’s surface that conserves chemicals and water while also preventing heat loss.
Cartridge Filters – The filter keeps your water clean and free of debris. Sand filters are common and affordable but are not the most eco-friendly as they use more water. Specifically, cleaning a sand filter requires a routine backwash and rinse cycle, which wastes hundreds of gallons of water each time. By contrast, cartridge filters remove much finer debris and allow for more efficient flow and filtration. Cleaning simply means removing the filter cartridge from its housing and spraying it down with a hose or soaking it in a cleaning solution. No backwashing required.
Save on Chemicals
Keeping your pool water clean and free of bacteria is important for safety and enjoyment. While pool chemicals are necessary, maximizing chemical efficiency is better for the environment, saves money and keeps pool maintenance simple. Chlorine is the most common pool sanitizer in America. But to maximize chlorine’s sanitizing power, a unique product — Perfect Weekly — is a triple-action, enzyme-based solution that can be added to your pool to:
- Reduce phosphates, the primary food source for algae, which helps prevent algae growth
- Break down non-living organics to improve chlorine efficiency and keep pool water clear
- Act as an evaporation barrier to reduce water, heat and chemical losses
Testing your pool water is crucial. Regular tests can help ensure properly balanced and sanitized water. Water testing is fast and thorough with Leslie’s AccuBlue in-store water testing technology. It takes just 60 seconds to deliver a comprehensive 10-point water test, a pool health score and a corresponding treatment plan — and it’s free.
Some of the equipment upgrades, like a solar cover or robotic cleaner, can be done by a handy pool owner. Others, like installing a new light or pump, are best left to professionals. Whether you make all these upgrades at once or space them out over several seasons, you’ll reap the benefits in lower energy bills, greater comfort and you’ll feel good about your eco-friendly approach to pool care.
Alicia Toedter is head of pool care education and content at Leslie’s, the largest direct-to-consumer brand in the U.S. pool and spa care industry.