Harness the sun
One of the most eco-friendly (and budget-savvy) ways to heat your pool is to use solar power. “Installing an extra 2-3kW of solar panels, above your standard requirements, is sufficient to cover the cost of running a pool and accessories – such as the pump, filter etc,” says RACV Solar CEO Andy McCarthy. “Setting the pool pump on a timer, generally between 10am and 3pm in summer, ensures you are using your excess solar power, and will save you more money.”
If you don’t have enough roof space for both solar panels and pool heating, Andy says it’s possible to install solar panels over the pool heating. “It requires a specific system, so it’s best to contact a solar expert who has experience with these types of projects,” he says.
Invest in a thermal pool cover or solar ‘bubble blanket’
Covering a pool when it’s not in use is a simple yet effective way to reduce our carbon footprint. “Aside from providing insulation and convenience, swimming-pool covers can help with heat retention, reduce evaporation, and maintain chemical balance,” says Chris Samartzis. While all pool covers will prevent water evaporation, thermal covers are designed to withstand strong UV, which means they last longer and have greater insulating properties, which will save you on heating costs. Look for thermal covers with the highest R value (thermal resistance) you can afford.
Alternatively, solar covers – also known as bubble blankets – contain air pockets that absorb heat from the sun and transfer it to the water, heating your pool. A good solar cover can heat your pool by up to eight degrees, however they are not as effective as thermal covers at retaining heat overnight. Typically more affordable than thermal covers, solar covers tend to have a shorter lifespan.
Chris says the most advanced pool covers can even transform into an over-pool roof at the press of a button to provide shade when you're in the water.
Install self-cleaning systems
You can also turn up the eco factor by installing a self-cleaning system. Chris explains that in-floor cleaning systems use water circulation to reduce chemical usage and keep swimming pools clean, without the need for regular hand vacuuming or any other cleaning. “As well as reducing maintenance time, in-floor cleaning systems also reduce running costs and limit the need for excessive chemicals being added to the pool,” he says. “And because the system returns treated water to the floor of your swimming pool, loss of heat and chemicals from the water’s surface is greatly reduced.”
He says many systems are fully automated, which means they switch off when the cleaning is complete. This also saves energy as you won’t be running your cleaning system for any longer than needed.