Solar Pool Covers to Reduce Energy Consumption
Utility bills are not getting any cheaper, even for basic functions like indoor electricity and heating and air conditioning. Add to those charges the monthly cost of heating a backyard pool, and you can expect your bill to soar into the triple digits month after month, depending on the region of the country you live in. If you’re like me, chilly water really takes the fun out of taking a dip in the pool. Add to that a desire to conserve energy and you’ve really got a situation! Fortunately, solar pool covers have come a long way over the years, so even without a heated pool, you can enjoy comfortable pool temps all season long. Here are a few links for further information:
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, consumers can greatly reduce the cost to heat a backyard pool by using a simple pool cover, with or without a solar pool heating system.
How Pool Covers Work
Simply put, pool covers significantly reduce the rate of evaporation of water, which is the number one source of energy loss for a pool. Pool covers minimize the rate of evaporation, and can result in a savings of 50–75% in pool heating expenses.
Pool Cover Types
At its most basic level, a pool cover is nothing more than a large sheet of plastic, which acts as a vapor barrier. Now, a simple sheet of plastic from the local hardware store is not the same thing as a plastic cover designed to retain heat in a swimming pool. So before you try a do-it-yourself version, here are a few things to consider:
Pool covers made of special materials made to withstand UV light will last for many seasons if handled properly. The bubble (solar) cover, which resembles the bubble wrap used for packaging, are made of a thick-grade plastic with UV deterrents built in, so they’ll withstand multiple years of use without sun damage.
Vinyl covers are generally thicker and heavier and have an even longer life expectancy. Some are fabricated with a layer of flexible insulation between two layers of vinyl, increasing their effectiveness for trapping and retaining heat in the water, where you want it.
Ease of Use
Depending on the size and shape of your pool, and who will be in charge of removing and replacing it, you have several options for how your cover actually works.
Manual pool covers are put on and taken off by hand—no tracks or motorized pully system. While it is possible for one person to handle it by himself, it’s much easier for two people to pull the cover off, fold and stash away for the day. The same is true for putting the cover back on at the end of the day.
Semi-automatic covers use electrical power and roll directly onto a motorized reel, but someone is still needed to guide the cover on and off. These types of covers can be built right onto the pool deck as a permanent fixture, or they can exist on a rolling cart that can be moved away from the pool when not in use.
Finally, fully automatic covers are attached to permanently attached reels at one end of the pool deck. With a push of the button, the covers come off and go on with no assistance needed. They may also fit right into mounted tracks along the sides of the pool and act as a sturdy barrier should someone slip and fall, or in the event a pet or other animal wanders onto it. These are obviously the most expensive option, but also the most convenient, especially for older folks.
Kaitlin Gardner started AnApplePerDay.com to further her passion for a family friendly, green living lifestyle. She is married to her college sweetheart and lives in Pennsylvania. She and her husband enjoy going for long hikes, to get out and enjoy nature. She is working on her first book about ways to live an eco-friendly, healthy, natural life.