Swimming pools, while a wonderful addition to the home, can be somewhat harmful to the environment. They require the use of a lot of water, chemicals, and energy to maintain, which all pose different threats to the earth. While there is really no way to maintain a completely eco-conscious swimming pool, there are certainly steps a pool-owner can take to lessen their pool’s environmental impact. In honor of earth day this month, we’ve decided to compile a quick guide with the biggest environmental impactors in your pool and ways to make them a little greener.
Chlorine, when used correctly in your pool, is not harmful to you but can be damaging to plants and soil. Also, when the water in your pool evaporates, the chlorine comes with it and can end up in other bodies of water where many organisms may be exposed. Not to worry though, chlorine overall has a pretty low environmental impact but there are easy ways to do a little better. If you’re a fan of chlorine in your pool, you can do regular chlorine-level checks so that you don’t accidentally use more than you need to or use too little and need to do a harsh shocking treatment to rectify it. Another option is that you can opt for a saltwater system in your pool instead of chlorine which you can learn more about HERE. Another bonus of watching your chlorine? Chlorine can be damaging to water features such as plants and tiles that you may want to use to surround your pool. Limiting chlorine use can protect these investments. If you check your chlorine regularly, you will also use much less during colder months.
Adding a pool cover is an easy way to lessen several environmentally impacting pool features. For one, they limit water evaporation by about 95%. This saves you from having to fill the pool as frequently which uses both a large amount of water and energy. They also trap heat in the pool which saves on energy by allowing you to heat the pool for less time and less often.
Every pool needs one of these and they use up a fair amount of energy. Luckily, there is a simple fix to keep that usage in check: a pump timer. Having your pool pump on a timer lets you choose the best times to run it and not have to remember to turn it off (saving a lot of energy and money in the process). Also, it should be noted that pumps come in many sizes and using a pump that is too big or too small can lead to more energy usage than is necessary. If your pump is too small, it will have to work extra hard to keep up and if it is too big, it will require an excess of energy that can be avoided with the right size. Also remember, you can usually run your pump for significantly less hours per day during the cooler months.
Algae is a common annoyance in swimming pools, but it is not commonly known that it will also eat up your resources. It can feed on chlorine so in order to keep your daily chlorine levels in check, you may have to add more than usual to combat the algae’s appetite. It will also make your pool look green and dirty if it gets too out of hand which will require shocking treatments to fix, perhaps more than one. Luckily, this is super easy to avoid! Simply keep an eye out for it and clean it off when you notice it. Your pool will be “greener” and less green at the same time!
There are several different ways to heat your pool, including electrically, with gas, or with solar power. Electric heaters impact the environment through their, you guessed it, large use of electricity. If you already have this system, you can check your usage and make sure that you’re only running the heater when you need it. Next, we have the gas heaters which run on either propane or natural gas and release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere with every use. To limit the environmental impact of your gas heater, you can limit your usage. Gas heaters work very quickly and are relatively more expensive to run so the environment and your wallet will thank you. The most environmentally conscious system is the solar powered heater which requires very little electricity to run, uses the sun’s natural light instead of an expensive resource, and is also the most economical.
Here you can learn more about the difference between gas and electric pool heaters.
Swimming pools are not always super environmentally friendly, but there are simple solutions that can help all of us pool-owners cut back on their environmental impact. As it turns out, a lot of the time the greener solutions are also the most cost-effective. It pays to do your part! The planet and your budget say thank you!
Happy Earth Day!