How to Make Your Pool More Sustainable
For many community associations the pool is a key amenity where neighbors can gather and enjoy the sun. However, pools, especially freshwater pools, require a lot of maintenance. Some of that maintenance requires chemicals and actions that are less than sustainable but there are steps you can take to ensure a more eco-friendly pool this summer.
Here are some tips for building and maintaining eco-friendly pools:
When Maintaining Your Pool
There are a few things you can do with an existing pool to improve its sustainability:
- Switch away from chlorine. Chlorine is harsh on hair, skin, and eyes. It can also damage plants and poison animals. Look into bromine based cleaning, Ozonator systems or mineral sanitizers. Bromine alone is often not enough, but in conjunction with chlorine it can work well.
- Clean filters regularly. The cleaner you keep your pool, the fewer chemicals you will need. Checking chlorine levels regularly reduces the need to shock the pool with high amounts of chlorine. One way to clean your pool more often is to use robots, some of which have solar chargers. Replace sand filters with cartridge filters if possible. You can even consider a natural filter, which uses sphagnum moss, which significantly reduces chlorine needs.
- Use a pool cover when possible. If you cover the pool when it is closed, you reduce water evaporation and thus water use, keep the water warmer, and prevent as much debris from entering the pool. This can also save money in the long run. A powered pool cover can pay for itself in both money and energy use.
- Replace your pool pump with a more energy efficient model. Variable speed pumps use a lot less electricity. You can also add a timer to reduce the amount of time your pump runs.
- Replace old lighting with new LED bulbs, which also often give clearer lighting. They also need to be replaced a lot less often, saving on maintenance costs.
- Buy high quality pool accessories so they don't need to be replaced as often.
- Replace the pool heater with a solar heater, if local conditions allow. In warmer climates, you may also be able to look into a heat pump, which does not raise the water temperature as much but uses a lot less energy.
- Add, or plant, a windbreak around the pool. This reduces water evaporation and also makes the pool environment better. Green windbreaks are the best, but a simple fence will do the job.
- Fix any leaks. Any leaks in your pool will waste water and cost money.
- Keep your pool filled year round. Consider not draining the pool during the off season, unless you have a severe algae problem or some other reason. This saves water and the pool itself often stays in better condition.
If Building a New Pool
Some things to consider when adding a new pool, in addition to the above:
- Consider a saltwater pool. Saltwater pools can be a selling point (many swimmers prefer them) and use a lot less chlorine than freshwater pools. They do require a little more maintenance, but their popularity will help overcome that.
- Position the pool in an area that is sheltered from the wind, or plant a natural windbreak. The pool's location alone can help reduce water evaporation.
- Consider an enclosed pool. It can be very expensive to add an enclosure to an existing pool, but sometimes cheaper to build one in from the start. In some climates, this can allow for the pool to be open all year round, and even in colder climates it can extend the pool's opening hours.
- Use native plants where possible in the landscaping around the pool, choosing plants that are low maintenance.
Having a swimming pool is a major selling point. A salt water pool can be even more so, and with many potential owners caring more about the environment than in the past, being able to call your pool "green" can be tremendously helpful.
Infographic Source: PoolCareGuy.com