Make Your Swimming Pool More Eco-Friendly and Efficient

Make Your Swimming Pool More Eco-Friendly and Efficient

Make Your Swimming Pool More Eco-Friendly and Efficient

from Living Green Magazine

Ask my husband Ed – I’m all about efficiency. From the spreadsheet I set up for the kid’s activities for the week, to the way I use online banking to pay all my bills – I like to take advantage of things that will help me out.

So when it came to our swimming pool, I just applied that same work ethic, and came up with a lot of ways to make our pool friendlier to the environment.

Pool pump timer. We live in an area where the electricity costs are high (well, who doesn’t these days), and the energy companies give breaks for off peak usage. So the investment for a timer was well worth the money. We figured out how long we need to run the pump so that it properly circulates the water in our pool. The timer allows us to run the pump for short periods of time, instead of just “all the time.” Then we set the timer to do most of the pump work in the evenings when we get the rate breaks. We save a lot of energy by doing that.

An efficient pool pump. The basic concept of the pump is that we have to circulate water to keep it fresh. The timer helps us do that. But also, when it was time to replace our pool pump, I dragged Ed to several pool stores, and really checked out pumps. It was a little unofficial research I was doing for a Pool Center article. I found out that a lot of times the pump is bigger than it needs to be. I found one guy who calculated the size of pump we needed for the dimensions of our pool, and our old pump was overkill. We got a smaller, more efficient pump, which does the job very nicely, and doesn’t use as much energy.

Solar pool cover. For the amount of money we spent, this was a fantastic investment. It’s really just like a big sheet of bubble wrap that we lay on top of the water. Since evaporation is one of the biggest sources of heat and water loss for a swimming pool, we save both in having to use the pool heater less, and in having to add water to the pool less frequently.

A windbreak. Following up on the evaporation thought, we installed a wind break around our pool. It’s like the screens you sometimes see around tennis courts. It just blocks the wind, and lessens evaporation. As well, I’ve read that the windbreak also doesn’t let the wind leech heat from the surface of the water as much.

Ultraviolet pool cleaners. I’m not a big fan of chlorine, so anything we can do to use less of it is great in my book. I checked out the various types of more natural pool cleaners – ozone, ultraviolet, salt water pools, and even took a look at natural plant pools. After doing the research, I chose ultraviolet. The system works by connecting a sterilizer between the pool filter and the fresh water return line to the pool. The ultraviolet works to eliminate chlorine byproducts, and lessen the amount of chlorine needed. I found out ultraviolet has been used in other countries for many years, and is just now catching on in the U.S. I think it’s a great system, and the kids have mentioned the pool doesn’t have the chlorine smell as much. I like hearing that.

Be regular about the maintenance. It’s amazing how just making sure the basics are taken care of will allow the whole pool system to work less. If Ed gets out and cleans leaves before they begin to clog up the filter, we make the filter last longer and run easier. It works the same with the pool pump – it’s a bit of a process to clean the pump. You have to shut off the pump, open the basket, clean it out, and then make sure to “re-prime” the pump before you start it back up. If you do it regularly, it pays off in the long run. Brushing the pool is not one of Ed’s favorite things, but if it’s taken care of, you don’t have to use water and chemicals as much to shock the pool because of algae that builds up.

There are a lot of ways to make the pool more efficient. A lot of those items have the double benefit that they are eco-friendly as well. Doing the research and taking the time to make the pool run smoothly can pay off in reduced energy and water costs in the long run. Then when the kids are having a “belly buster” contest, I can just sit back and smile, knowing I’ve done my part.

Becky Flanigan is a freelance writer for She has 3 kids with her wonderful husband – two boys and a girl – and two lovely golden retrievers. She is also an avid runner, and diligently training for her first half marathon.