Economical Pool Maintenance
Whether you're saving or looking to cut back on costs, this guide will help you maintain your pool on a budget.
Let’s face it, swimming pools don’t have a reputation for being eco-friendly. In fact, they’re one of our nation’s biggest energy guzzlers – right behind hot water systems and air conditioners. This can have a detrimental effect on our natural resources, not to mention your back pocket.
But it isn’t all bad news. You can still make your pool more sustainable without turning it into a frog habitat. In this guide, we show you 10 different ways to reduce energy, save water and minimise the use of chemicals in your pool.
Some can be implemented straight away, like using a pool cover or replacing a single-speed pump with a variable speed type. Others will take time, like creating a natural windbreak or switching to a natural pool. Either way, you’ll be able to enjoy the perks of having a backyard pool while still doing your bit for the planet.
You’d be surprised how many people leave their pool uncovered during the year. Not only does this affect your pool’s appearance and longevity, but your pump has to work twice as hard to clean it. This can result in high energy consumption and eyewatering power bills. To make matters worse, uncovered pools evaporate up to twice their volume of water each year. This means frequent top-ups and – no surprises – a massive water bill.
To avoid this scenario, use a high-quality cover on your pool. Choose solar, thermal, mesh, slat or liquid covers, depending on your budget and needs. Not only will they protect your pool, but they’ll also increase your pool’s water temperature by about six or eight degrees.
In general, thermal covers are best for UV protection, longevity and heat retention, which saves on chemicals, cleaning and energy. When you’re shopping around, look for thermal pool covers with a high R (thermal resistance) value.
If you don’t want the hassle of rolling out a blanket, try a liquid pool cover. This forms a chemical liquid barrier that traps heat and saves up to 40 percent of your energy costs. Made from biodegradable ingredients, it won’t clog your filter or affect the chemical balance of your pool. However, you’ll need to top it up regularly if the pool is heavily used.
According to Canstar Blue, water filtration pumps account for about 70% of your pool’s energy costs. This is because many pools use single-speed pumps. While they’re fast and affordable, they use a lot of energy – and we mean a lot. To reduce this energy expenditure, consider using a variable-speed pump. You can change the speed of the pump and reduce energy consumption over a longer period, resulting in lower power bills. (Check out this guide to see exactly how much you can save with a variable-speed pump.)
When shopping for a variable pool pump, choose one with a high energy star rating. To find out how star ratings affect annual running costs, see the table below. The higher the rating, the lower the energy consumption. That means more money in your pocket – and a lighter carbon footprint for your pool!
Source: Sustainability Victoria
Instead of stopping and starting like a single-speed heat pump, inverter technology reduces the speed of the unit as it reaches the desired temp, using far less energy. Plus, it uses environmentally friendly refrigerant gas that pulls the heat from the air and transfers it to your pool. These features reduce your energy expenditure by at least 10 per cent, particularly if you keep your pool at the recommended temperature of 25–28 degrees.
On the other hand, solar power is by far the most eco-friendly method you can use for heating your pool. Solar pool heating absorbs the heat of the sun and channels it into your pool. You can then customise this with timers and temperature control. And while you need a pump to run a solar heater, the energy expenditure can be as little as 1 kW per hour.
Your regular filter pump for use with hydraulic cleaners needs more than 1,000W or 1kWH to run. If you want an alternative that takes half the time to clean and uses a fraction of the energy, consider a robotic cleaner. The average wattage of the automatic pool cleaners is 180W. That’s a massive 82% less power consumption!
These nifty robots have advanced filters and cyclonic suction that pick up fine debris like dust, algae and bacteria. This means fewer chemicals and less work for your pump and filter.
Another advantage of robotic pool cleaners is that they usually come with a setting for programming your preferred cleaning schedules. There are even those very smart robots that have the ability to calculate your pool size and automatically program themselves to minimize the running time and for the most effective cleaning patterns.
These days, high-quality cartridge filters are the greenest option for your pool. They last longer and use less water to clean compared to a backwash cycle from sand filters. In fact, some of the larger cartridge filters can be cleaned once or twice a year, saving you 20,000 litres of water a year. What’s more, these cartridges can filter smaller particles, which means your pump doesn’t have to work as hard. The result? Clearer water and a lower power bill.
Many pool owners use sand filters for their pools. And while this is a sustainable option, sand can be heavy and require frequent (and long) backwashing. Recycled glass media, however, is lighter and backwashes quickly. Also, you can backwash every 4–8 weeks, unlike sand, which needs to be backwashed every fortnight – saving you hundreds of litres of water every year.
Glass media also filters 5–10 microns of particles, compared to sand’s 30 microns, giving you clearer pool water. Some types of glass media are even actively charged to increase their filtering ability by 30 per cent (compared to standard glass). This means you won’t have to run your cleaner as often or keep topping up your chlorine levels.
Did you know that LED lights last at least five times longer than halogen? That’s why they’re the most energy-efficient option for your pool. They use about 7–20 watts per hour compared to 35–500 for halogens – and they don’t need to be changed as often. Plus, they’re brighter and provide more visibility in the pool, particularly at night.
If you’ve got an older pool with halogen lights, speak to an electrician about how they can convert them for you. Once you get LED lights, don’t leave them on all day. Your pool may look stunning illuminated at night, but if you’re not going for night swims, turn off the lights or use a timer to limit usage.
Filling your pool with rainwater could save you thousands of litres of water every year. If you don’t currently have a water tank, consider buying one to harvest your rainwater. They can be above ground, underground or portable, depending on your budget and space. Another option is to instal a downpipe diverter that can syphon roof water straight into your pool.
Rainwater collected in tanks can be safely used for pools provided it is introduced into the pool through either a balance tank or into the pool at night to allow sufficient time for treatment before bathers enter the pool. We recommend you check your chemical levels (especially phosphate) after topping up your pool with rainwater to ensure water quality.
One of the great benefits of rainwater is that it’s softer than mains water, so you don’t have to worry about calcium corroding your fittings or clouding the pool. And you can use it in other areas of your home, like the laundry and garden, helping you conserve even more water.
Choosing an alternative to a traditional chlorine pool such as salt or a mineral pool system can help save you money and be more environmentally friendly. Mineral pools in particular can help reduce the amount of chemicals needed to keep the water healthy and balanced. Some systems such as MagnaPool even allow for the waste water* to be repurposed as irrigation for your garden. (*backwash water must be diluted before reusing as irrigation. Please see MagnaPool website for more details.) In addition, minerals can have a positive effect on your health, like boosting circulation, improving sleep and relieving muscular aches and pains. That sounds like a win-win to us!
Automated pool systems can control your pool’s essential functions – including the pool pump, cleaning system, lighting, heating and even chlorine levels. Smart tech can help reduce your energy bills by eliminating excess usage due to accidentally leaving your pump running too long or forgetting to turn off the lights. When you can control your equipment to shut off and on only as needed, you are using way less energy.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to make your splash zone eco-friendly. While it can take time to implement these strategies, you’ll be one step closer to making your backyard swimming pool cleaner, greener and more sustainable – both for you and the future of the planet. Want to know more about pool maintenance? Take a deep dive into our Pool & Spa Guides or contact one of our approved dealers.