Home' Splash Magazine : SPLASH Feb-Mar 2017 Contents The
energy and pools
he world is changing rapidly
when it comes to trends in
energy consumption, and the
Australian swimming pool
industry may well be in for a nasty
surprise unless it begins to takes this
Politicians are arguing about what our
national renewable energy target should
be. Traditional energy generators are
slowly being squeezed out of the market.
Disruptive blackouts have occurred and
domestic fuel prices are surging. There is
little evidence of what is going to fill the
looming gap over the next decade and
virtually all experts are telling us to expect
sharp rises in energy costs.
When you build a house, the number
of energy rating regulation hoops
you must now jump through is quite
daunting, yet when a pool is built there
are little or no regulatory requirements
for energy ratings.
For years the pool industry has been
flying under the energy regulator’s
radar while they target more obvious
household products that consume larger
amounts of energy.
But that may well be about to change.
So how much energy
does a pool really use?
The average Australian household
without a pool uses 19.8kW of energy
or $4.50 per day. That is over 6500
kW or $1624 per year. The average
pool – without heating or infloor –
uses around 1750kW or $438 per
year. Thanks to recent pool equipment
advancements, filtering, sanitising and
lighting, an unheated pool now uses an
acceptable amount of power.
However, heating the pool water
remains an energy consuming monster.
Few realise that water takes 3542 times
more energy to heat than air. That ’s why
around 85 per cent of the average heated
pool’s energy consumption will be used
just to keep the pool water warm through
the swim season.
Regardless of what type of
equipment is installed – solar heating,
heat pump, gas heater, pool cover,
in-floor cleaning etc – a heated pool
demands up to 8000kW of energy per
annum to keep it warm.
That ’s more than double the energy
consumption of the average household.
That ’s a problem for the pool industry.
Energy consumption and the heat losses
on that scale, just from heating the
average backyard pool, are nothing short
of wasteful when we compare it to other
There is also the cost of generating so
much energy and that depends on how
it is generated. The three main options
are solar, heat pump or gas, and with
some, the costs can exceed $2000 per
annum (these figures are based on a
32sqm Sydney pool, kept at 28 degrees
for six months).
The big issue
Pool heating is now the largest and most important
conser vation issue for pools.
Australia leads the world in per capita pool ownership,
so we should be showing the rest of the world how to
build energy efficient pools. We should be developing
and installing the most energy efficient pool equipment
and also using the most energy efficient construction
techniques and materials.
Mandatory changes designed to reduce the energy
footprint of new buildings have resulted in the
introduction of insulated slabs, insulated composite
concrete walls, double glazing, better ceiling and wall
insulation and generally more energy-efficient initiatives.
Comparatively most of the changes in swimming
pool construction over the past 20 years have been
aesthetic features such as vanishing edges, spillways
and different interior finishes. Little has been done
to insulate exposed walls or to increase the heat
retention qualities of the commonly used construction
materials even though great advances have been made
using these same innovative materials in the housing
With pool equipment, great advances have been made
with smarter controls, pump efficiency, pool covers,
filtration and lighting, but in general the pool industry
does not want to talk openly about pool water heating
costs with their customers and this is largely due to a
lack of education. If the industry continues to avoid
the difficult topic of running costs then how are they
going to cope when regulators become serious about
As part of the solar industry since its inception, we
at Sunbather obviously believe that using solar to heat
our pools is the best way to keep the regulators at bay.
Thankfully, the statistics and the science back up our
claims and the regulators also agree. Solar is without
doubt the cheapest and by far the most energy
efficient way to heat a pool, but even with solar there
are serious misconceptions.
Heating a pool for just six months
can use more energy than an
entire household for a year
By Tom Boadle
February/March 2017 SPLASH! 27
This article by Tom Boadle, general manager of Sunbather Pool
Heating, is based on his popular and somewhat provocative
presentation at SPLASH! on the Gold Coast last August.
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