Pooling power

Swimming pools cost a lot of money to heat and keep warm. How can these costs and the carbon footprint be reduced?

Britain has 300,000 swimming pools and, this being Britain, it is deemed necessary to heat them to make them comfortable to use – even during summer. Naturally, this process comes at a not inconsiderable cost. Indeed, it has been calculated that it costs £3.25 per day heat a commercial pool to 29oC. And, where there are energy costs, there are inevitably going to be environmental costs as well. The sheer amount of energy that has to be used to heat a swimming pool means that pools can represent an environmental and a financial burden that many cannot afford. However, a pool that is heated and left uncovered will quickly lose heat and soon become unusable for any but the hardiest swimmers. The belief is generally that this heat loss occurs via the water and there are pool covers available (usually in blue) that help to retain heat a little bit longer than might otherwise be the case. Needless, to say, however, these are far from being a long-term solution. The Challenge The Challenge this month is therefore to come up with a method of successfully retaining heat within a swimming pool whilst keeping the energy expended on heating it to an absolute minimum. Clearly, there are covers available and these can achieve some energy savings. However, perhaps something more robust and all-encompassing is required? Perhaps a greenhouse around the pool is the way forward? This would have the advantage of magnifying heat, but would be expensive to erect, prone to damage and could have the disadvantage of making things too hot. The actual solution is genuinely innovative, relies on extensive (and surprising) scientific research, is accredited under Defra's Carbon Emissions Reduction Target and can be fitted to new pools, or during renovations, to heat them for a negligible amount, saving 86% of heat loss. It's a British invention and could potentially save millions. However, don't let that stop you seeing if you can do better.