One would have a hard time denying that swimming pools are some of the most wonderful and luxurious comforts in life. Merely at a touch of warm and soft water our bodies relax and minds blend with the basic elements of nature. However, maintaining a pool in the backyard is not a cheap proposition, neither financially, nor environmentally.
When my husband Ed and I decided to install a family swimming pool, we looked for things we could do to make our pool less taxing on the resources. Here are 10 ways we have found to make our pool more eco friendly:
1) Efficient heating. We love to swim during the months when it gets a bit chilly, so we installed a solar heater. We cut down on the amount of fuel we use to warm the pool. It also saves on our energy costs, and I love that part.
2) An insulated pool cover. When we’re not using the pool, the cover keeps it warm and prevents loss of heat. After a long discussion about cost, Ed won and got a pool cover with a push button mechanism. Sometimes I think he loves any excuse to cover the pool at the touch of a button. I grumbled about the cost a bit, but it really is nice, and I have noticed our fuel costs being significantly lower.
3) An efficient pool pump. We looked a long time and talked to a number of people, and realized that most pool pumps are single speed, and really big – it was overkill for what we needed. So we put in a variable speed pump. It adjusts to the amount of water needed, and uses a lot less power.
4) A pool pump timer. The other thing we did was put our pool pump on a timer. It cost a little initially to have an electrician come out and connect it, but it was well worth the time and cost. We cut it back to only turn on the pump during the hours we’re likely to use the pool.
5) Wide pipes for the pool pump. Ed found this idea when we were designing the pool. We installed very wide pipes with no sharp turns from the pump to the pool. It lessened the resistance to the water flowing from the pump, and cut down on the amount of energy the pump has to use to circulate water. I was really proud of Ed for finding this one.
6) Wetlands filtering. I had no idea what this was, but Ed and the pool guy told me about it, and I quickly fell in love with the idea. When we designed the pool, we added a treatment system that recreates a natural wetland effect. The water from the pool is pumped through an area in the back of the yard with plants and soils that just naturally filter the water. The plants benefit – the impurities in the water are nourishment for them. We benefit – fresh water is returned to the pool, with less need for chemicals.
7) Windbreaks around the pool. We put in some windscreens on the pool fence. It didn’t seem like much at the time, but I think it has really helped. What it does is cut down on water evaporation from the effects of the wind. I’ve sure noticed that our pool doesn’t seem to lose water very rapidly.
8) Automatic pool cleaner. This helps regularly keep the pool clean, and it’s like having a vacuum cleaner that would run in the living room all the time. (I wish!) By the continuous cleaning motion, it keeps debris, leaves and junk from building up.
9) Low voltage lighting. We had to spend a little for this, but we installed lights for the pool and exterior lights around the pool that use less energy. We can hardly tell the difference, and it’s just another eco-friendly step we feel good about having taken.
10) Regular pool monitoring. Ed checks the pool every day. He cleans the leaves around the area, cleans out the skimmer basket for the pool cleaner, and checks to make sure the automatic cleaner, pool pump, and all the processes are working right. He checks the pH to make sure the chemicals in the pool are in proper balance.
We feel good about the steps we have taken to make sure our pool is eco-friendly. We sit back with a smile, watch the kids and the pets splashing around, knowing we’ve made our family swimming pool cooperates with the environment.
AUTHOR: Becky Flanigan is a writer for InTheSwim.com. She has 3 kids with her wonderful husband – two boys and a girl – and two lovely golden retrievers. After studying in ground pools to design their pool for safety, she spends hours at the family’s pool, watching the kids and dogs splash and play. She is also an avid runner, and diligently training for her first half marathon.