When it comes to beating the heat, nothing compares to the family pool. But since I try to be environmentally aware, we try to keep our pool eco-friendly. I’ve done a lot of research to figure out the best ways to maintain our pool with the best environmentally friendly practices. Here are the top 4 steps on my list:
1) Conserve water. We started that process by putting up a windbreak screen around our pool. We live in an area that is not exactly windy, but has a breeze most of the time. The windbreak cuts down on evaporation from the pool. We also use an efficient filter, which minimizes the number of times we have to use extra water to backwash the pool while cleaning it. In addition, we bought a solar pool cover, which lays on top of the pool, again, cutting down on the amount of evaporation.
2) Reduce energy use. We streamlined our pool heater as much as possible, but it is old and due for replacement. So, we’re planning our next big purchase for the pool – a solar heating system. I’ve been doing a lot of study about solar as part of my work for InTheSwim.com, and it’s a solution that will work well for us. Solar will cut down enormously on the electricity used to heat our pool. Surprisingly, a pool pump timer has helped with our energy consumption more than I thought it would. We can run the pump intermittently, but long enough to completely circulate the water. As well, we run the pump in the evening, when we get a break on energy prices. Our efficient filter has also helped with energy savings, since it takes less time to remove debris.
3) Limit the chemicals. It makes sense to keep your pool clean up front, in order to lessen the quantity of chemicals you need to clean it later. My husband, Ed, compares it to the radiator in our car – if you have it working well, the engine has to work less. So by making sure the pool is kept clean, we limit the amount of chemicals we need to use. The cleaning falls on Ed, who has the job of keeping debris and leaves out of the pool. In the fall, he’s out at the pool every day making sure leaves don’t build up. In addition, we bought an automatic pool cleaner – one of those little units that creeps around the pool keeping it clean. We dedcided to purchase the unit after we left town for a couple of days and were shocked by an algae problem when we got home. To clear up the algae, we had to hit the pool with extra chemicals. I think the automatic pool cleaner has brought more contented smiles to Ed than any other recent purchase. It’s pretty fun to just go watch that little unit float around, and know that we will use fewer chemicals because it is working well.
4) Alternative pool cleaning solutions. I looked into the efficiency of several pool cleaners that can help cut down on the amount of chlorine you need to add in the pool. An ozone cleaning system or an ultraviolet cleaner are what appeared to be the best systems. Both can destroy unwanted contaminants, which is what you want, because that’s the main function of chlorine – to kill the effects of things like sunscreen, body oil, dirt and other particles that get into the water (if you have kids, you know what that means). We chose an ultraviolet system because I liked the way it worked. I found out they have been used around the world for a while, but are just now picking up momentum in the United States. I found someone on the next block who had used an ultraviolet system, liked the results, and so we set it up. We had a sterilizer installed between the existing pool filter and the return water line. I’ve been pleased with the results.
I feel good about having taken steps to make sure my family pool is eco-friendly, and I think over time the cost savings will offset the initial costs to buy and install the things we needed. Now if I can’t find Ed, I’ve learned to glance out in the back yard, because he might be out watching the automatic pool cleaner. It was worth the cost of that item just for the kick Ed gets out of it.
About the Author: Becky Flanigan writes freelance articles for InTheSwim.com. She has 3 kids with her wonderful husband – two boys and a girl – and two lovely golden retrievers. She spends hours at her family swimming pool, watching the kids and dogs play and have fun. She is also a dedicated runner, and diligently training for her first half marathon.