As pool owners, sometimes we have to take a hard look and admit that our favorite hobby isn't exactly good for the environment.
And some people argue that having a fully "eco-friendly" pool is not completely possible...and there may be some truth to that.
There is a lot that goes into the construction and maintenance of a swimming pool that there is no "green" substitution for yet.
There definitely are several ways to make your pool a lot more eco-friendly than it probably is right now.
And with that spirit in mind, we decided to put together this monster post and infographic featuring 17 different ways you can make your pool more eco-friendly right now.
Why Most Pools Are Not Eco-Friendly
Pools are sort of natural energy-suckers.
For example, an average-sized pool holds between 10,000 and 20,000 gallons of water.
Granted, you will likely only completely fill the pool a handful of times during its lifetime, possibly only once if you never completely drain it.
But you will constantly be adding water to it due to water loss from evaporation and heavy use.
Did you know that a pool loses anywhere from ¼” to ½” every day due to evaporation?
One of the other factors that keeps a pool from being environmentally friendly is the harmful chemicals we use to maintain them.
You can certainly be cautious of this and use only the amounts needed, but depending on how the water with chemicals is disposed of, it can harm any living organisms it comes in contact with.
Well, they also use a ton of energy to operate.
In order to keep the water clean and safe, you have to run your pump every day. There’s just no getting around it.
Related: How to clean a green pool
And then if you use a heater, the energy usage is even higher.
So, what’s an environmentally-conscious pool owner to do? I’ve got a few suggestions!
17 Ways To Make Your Pool More Eco-Friendly
#1. Use Fewer Chemicals
Chlorine is not the only chemical we put in our pools that is harmful to the environment, but it is the most common, and the one we usually use the most of in quantity.
It’s true that you still need to keep your chlorine at the right levels to keep algae at bay, but there are a few things you can do to keep it to a minimum.
For one thing, you can do is use a substitute called bromine.
I don’t usually recommend bromine unless someone in your family has sensitivity issues to chlorine, simply because it isn’t proven to work as well.
However, you can use bromine with chlorine so that you’re not using quite as much of either one.
The other thing you can do is just make sure you check your chlorine levels very frequently.
I’m talking every couple of days.
This way, you can ensure that algae or other bacteria never get out of hand so you reduce your need for frequent shocking with high doses of chlorine.
#2. Use A Pool Cover
Did you know that your pool is constantly losing water due to evaporation?
In fact, an average pool will lose about ¼ inch per day on a normal day, but it can lose even more on hot, sunny days.
And what happens when you lose water?
You have to replace it, which means using more resources.
Not to mention the fact that you then have to add more chemicals.
But evaporation isn’t the only resource-sucker in your pool.
Heat also escapes your pool through the surface, making your heater work longer and harder.
A pool cover can help cut down energy usage by keeping heat in the pool when it’s not in use.
And for an added eco-boost, use a solar cover which serves to add extra heat to the pool by channeling the sun’s UV rays into the water.
#3. Use A Cartridge Filter Instead Of A Sand Filter
Sand and D.E. filters have to be backwashed often to keep them clean, but cartridge filters can just be hosed off about twice a year.
Their cartridges are not biodegradable, but because they last so long, the lower water usage usually outweighs that concern.
#4. Use A Pool Pump Timer
Your pool pump is an important part of your filtration system: it keeps the water flowing and pushes dirt and debris through the filters to be discarded.
Most of the time, we just turn the pump on and run it for a certain number or hours a day.
And if we forget to shut it off, it will run longer than the scheduled time. This is by no means bad for the water, but it does use more energy to run than necessary.
Related: How to choose the best pool alarm
A pool pump timer can be set up however you’d like, so it can save energy in a couple of ways.
For one thing, you can set it to run at intervals during the day, keeping it from running continuously.
Also, you can set your timer to run while you are away so that your pool isn’t setting dormant when no one is there to turn it on.
Related: How to choose the best pool thermometer
Bonus Tip: If your utilities company has rate differentials for off-peak hours, you can set your timer to run during times when electricity is cheaper.
Most of the time, these hours are overnight, but contact your local electric company to find out more.
#5. Use A Solar Pool Heater
There are several kinds of pool heaters, but for obvious reasons, a solar heater is the greenest option.
They don’t use resources like gas and need very little electricity to operate.
In fact, even though they cost a little more upfront, they usually pay for themselves in energy savings in as little as a year and half.
#6. Run Your Pump Less Often
Most experts recommend that you run your pump about 8 hours a day, especially during heavy swim seasons.
But some pool-owners have larger pumps than their pools require, making it possible to run the pump for 6, or even 4 hours a day in some cases.
Check your pump against your pool size to see if you have a larger pump than you need, then try running it for an hour or two less for while.
Of course, you'll want to monitor your chemical levels much more frequently during this time to make sure it’s keeping it sanitized, but if all is well after a few days, you may be able to keep it on a much shorter schedule indefinitely.
Installing a pump timer will also help you to make sure you’re not running it longer than necessary.
#7. Use A Dual-Speed Or Variable-Speed Pump
According to Hayward Pools, “the single speed pool pump can be the second largest consumption of energy in your house after heating and air conditioning”
That’s because they are constantly running at one speed.
A dual-speed or variable-speed pump, on the other hand, changes speeds periodically to reduce energy costs.
>>Read: How to choose the best variable speed pool pump
They're also a lot quieter than traditional pumps and allow for better pool filtration because of the slower filtration rates.
#8. Keep Your Pool Filled All Year Long
But other than that, there really isn’t any need to drain it, even during winter months.
In fact, draining a pool can do more harm than good to the pool, causing dry and cracked liners and covers.
But the eco-wise reason to keep your pool filled is to keep from having to use all that water every year.
Average pool capacities are about 10,000-25,000 gallons.
If you drain and refill it, that’s a lot of water wasted for no good reason.
#9. Install A Windbreak
Since evaporation is sped up with wind, installing a windbreak can help cut down on that.
Wind can also cool the water down, forcing your pool heater to work harder.
That’s why a windbreak is especially important in regions where wind is a consistent factor.
Most of the time, people use a fence around the pool as a windbreak, but you can also use screens, lattice, shrubs, or any other material that shields your pool from the wind to some extent.
#10. Convert To A Natural Swimming Pool
A natural swimming pool is a chemical-free, eco-friendly alternative to a chlorinated pool.
It uses all-natural organic matter to filter the water by passing it through a regeneration zone filled with plants, and the water is then dumped back into the swimming area of the pool, completely clarified.
While this may be a great option for you, there are some special considerations you will have to make.
For example, is your pool large enough to accommodate both a regeneration zone and a swim zone?
And, are you ready to tackle the maintenance of the plant life?
You will also need to consider the costs of modifying the plumbing and hiring an expert to help you landscape the pool environment.
#11. Install A Moss-Filtered Pool
Moss? I know, right?!
This is a fairly new type of pool filtration system, just patented within the last ten years, that uses a specific species of moss called sphagnum moss.
The moss is mostly found in Northern Minnesota and has been repurposed to filter swimming pools the way it does its crystal clear lakes up north.
Basically, per the NYT, “moss treatment inhibits the formation of bacterial colonies called biofilms. Chlorine kills free-floating bacteria but biofilms absorb the chemical, requiring ever-greater doses to keep a pool clean.”
So, a moss filter reduces the chlorine demands of the swimming pool, making it much more eco-friendly.
#12. Fix Your Pool Leaks
The other common cause of water loss in pools is leaks.
#13. Use LED Lighting
If you haven’t jumped on the LED train yet, it might be time to do so.
The US Energy Department calls it “one of today’s most energy-efficient and rapidly-developing lighting technologies.”
The LED light uses at least 75% less energy than the traditional incandescent bulb, and that is nothing to take lightly!
Not only that, but they last about 25 times longer. Seriously, I haven’t changed a light bulb in my house in years!
#14. Use An Automatic Pool Cleaner
An automatic pool cleaner is a self-powered vacuum that motors around on the bottom of your pool, picking up dirt and debris that your filter doesn’t catch.
The reason this type of pool cleaner helps keep your pool eco-friendly is that it helps keep it clean and algae-free.
This means not having to add extra chlorine or shock the pool as often!
#15. Regularly Clean Algae Out Of Your Pool
Algae is the resource-sucker of the pool world; it eats up your chlorine and forces you to keep adding more.
Not only will you have to add to your daily amounts to keep the levels balanced, but you could end up having to shock, double shock, or even triple shock your pool.
Trust me: just stay on top of this and keep yourself from having to work harder than you need to and from having to use excess amount of chemicals.
#16. Choose Eco-Friendly Landscaping
If you choose to landscape around your pool, you can stay eco-conscious by choosing plants that are native to your region and require low maintenance.
These plants contribute to your local ecosystem and can serve as windscreens to pull double duty.
Just make sure you are being mindful of staying green when fertilizing and caring for the greenery.
A good way to do that is by using natural compost right from your own trash.
#17. Consider An Automated Pool System
Automated pool systems have gotten a lot more affordable and accessible over the years.
Basically, they can control everything from pool lights to sanitization.
It's crazy cool how much you can automate with the touch of a button from your smart phone or device.
But, how does this help make your pool eco-friendly?
One way is that you can automate your pool chemistry to where it uses exactly what is needed, no more, no less.
But you can also set your pump, pool lights, heater, and pool vacuum to shut off and on only as needed, using less energy for all your equipment.
Going green with your pool might take some time and effort on your part, but if it’s something you feel strongly about, it could absolutely be worth it.
But even if you choose not to make any pool modifications, there are always ways to contribute to the protection of the environment.
For example, be mindful of where you dispose of chemicals and always use a pool cover when it’s not in use.
Every little bit helps!