Article

Swimming Pool Covers

Reduce the cost of heating your swimming pool by installing a high-efficiency or solar heater, using a pool cover, managing the water temperature, and using a smaller pump less often.

Did You Know?

Heating a swimming pool can consume a significant amount of energy, resulting in high heating expenses?

Solution:

Homeowners can enhance the heating efficiency of their pool by installing an efficient pool cover as well as solar heating.

Pool Covers

Using a pool cover can significantly reduce swimming pool heating costs however, we often find that many homeowners resist installing pool covers due to their lack of visual appeal.

While we understand and value this sentiment, it’s crucial to emphasise the pivotal role a pool cover plays in cutting down long-term maintenance costs and continual energy expenses.

Swimming pools lose energy through various means, with evaporation being the primary source of energy loss. The rate of evaporation from an outdoor pool is influenced by factors such as:

  • Pool temperature,
  • Air temperature,
  • Humidity, and
  • Wind speed at the pool surface.

 

Higher pool temperature and wind speed, along with lower humidity, contribute to increased evaporation. To reduce evaporation in windy areas, consider installing a windbreak like trees, shrubs, or a fence. It’s essential that the windbreak is tall and close enough to the pool to avoid creating turbulent air over the pool, which can lead to more evaporation.

Tip: Ensure the windbreak doesn’t shade the pool from the sun, as the sun helps heat the pool.

Indoor pools, while not affected by external conditions, still lose energy due to evaporation. They require room ventilation to manage indoor humidity resulting from substantial evaporation. Conditioning the ventilated air using a mechanical device in order to combat mould also adds to energy expenses.

  • Using pool covers can significantly reduce evaporation for both outdoor and indoor pools.
  • Covering a pool when not in use is highly effective in cutting down pool heating costs, with potential savings of between 50%–70%.
  • For indoor pools, covers not only minimise evaporation but also reduce the need for indoor air ventilation and the replacement of conditioned air with unconditioned outdoor air.
  • Keeping indoor pools covered allows for the conservation of energy by turning off exhaust fans, resulting in additional energy savings.

Types of Pool Covers

Generally, a simple pool cover can be made from a large plastic sheet, which fulfills the vapor barrier criteria. However, opting for a plastic sheet from a hardware store may not be the most practical choice as it can be challenging to manage and store, prone to tearing, and susceptible to rapid deterioration from sunlight exposure.

A plastic sheet can used as temporary ‘quick fix’ for anyone wishing to cover their pool on a tight budget however; it’s best to use a cover designed specifically for swimming pools. They’re made of special materials, such as UV-stabilised polyethylene, polypropylene, or vinyl and can be transparent or opaque, and even light or dark in colour.

Tip: Dark colors are great for retaining heat, making them ideal for winter. However, they may not be the best choice for tropical climates during the summer months.

One of the lowest cost covers made specifically for swimming pools is the bubble (or solar) cover. Bubble covers are similar to bubble packing material except they use a thicker grade of plastic and have UV inhibitors.

Vinyl covers consist of a heavier material and have a longer life expectancy than bubble covers. Insulated vinyl covers are also available with a thin layer of flexible insulation sandwiched between two layers of vinyl.

automatic swimming pool cover

Ease of Use

A cover doesn’t save any energy if you never use it! That’s why it’s important to consider the ease of closure and opening.

Pool cover options include:

  • manual,
  • semi-automatic,
  • automatic or,
  • safety pool covers

 

Manual Pool Covers

You can manually pull the cover on and off, fold it, and place it somewhere out of the way. You can also purchase a pool cover reel to help manually roll up the pool cover. The reel, usually on wheels, can be rolled out of the way.

Semi-Automatic Pool Covers

Semi-automatic covers use a motor-driven reel system. They use electrical power to roll and unroll the cover, but usually require someone to pull on the cover when unrolling, or guide the cover onto the reel when rolling up the cover. Semi-automatic covers can be built into the pool deck surrounding the pool, or can use reels on carts.

Automatic Pool Covers

Automatic covers have permanently mounted reels that automatically cover and uncover the pool at the push of a button. They’re the most expensive option, but they’re also the most convenient.

Safety Covers

Some pool covers fit into tracks along the sides of the pool which prevents anything or anybody from getting into the pool. They can even support the weight of several people however, if liability is a concern, these are a good option to explore. They can be run manually, semi-automatically, or automatically.

Safety covers are recommended for public pools.

How to Use a Pool Cover

If you prefer daytime pool usage, remember to remove the cover just before swimming and put it back on once you’re done.

For nighttime pool use, the effectiveness of a pool cover depends on whether it reduces evaporation and other losses more than it decreases solar gain. This balance is influenced by the cover type and local climate conditions. In dry or windy areas, pool evaporation is higher, so using a transparent or bubble cover during the day is usually advantageous.

Conversely, in warm and humid climates, where evaporation is lower, leaving the cover off during the day might be more beneficial.

Other Pool Cover Benefits

  • Besides offering energy savings, pool covers also do the following:
  • Conserve water by reducing the amount of make-up water needed by 30%–50%
  • Reduce the pool’s chemical consumption by 35%–60%
  • Reduce cleaning time by keeping dirt and other debris out of the pool.