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Energy-saving strategies for indoor pools


The lighting system provides the atmosphere for recreational or competitive pools. It may be used throughout the day to manage ambient light levels and ensure a safe environment. Replacing existing incandescent lamps with high-efficiency compact fluorescent bulbs can save more than 50 per cent on a facility’s electrical bill. Compact fluorescent lights can last up to four times longer than incandescent bulbs, which also significantly reduces labour costs involved in light replacement. Standard ballasts and lamps can also be replaced with energy-saving electronic ballasts. T-8 or T-12 lamps can also be used to save energy. With indirect lighting systems, it may be cost efficient to replace existing fixtures with high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps to reduce electrical consumption; however, each system should be individually evaluated in order to optimize energy savings.


Pool filters are another source of potential energy savings. Filters can increase operating costs due to the amount of water used to backwash; if this process is better controlled, energy losses are reduced. While some operators backwash filters according to a set schedule, it is best to backwash only when the filter pressure gauge reaches the manufacturer’s recommended level. In addition, waiting to backwash filters for 30 minutes after circulation systems have been shut down gives the sand bed time to settle; settled sand requires half as much water to clean. If the system needs to be replaced altogether, new high-efficiency filter systems are currently on the market. When a facility reduces the amount of water used in the backwashing process, the amount of energy required to heat the make-up water when it circulates back to the pool is also reduced, allowing for greater savings and efficiency.


Heater performance should also be reviewed to determine the costs and benefits of increasing efficiency based on utility costs. For natural gas or propane sources, heaters should have efficiency ratings of at least 95 per cent. Electric heaters should have a coefficient of performance (COP) ranging from 6.0 to 8.0. Alternate pool heating systems include solar panels and ground-source heat pumps, which can, in certain cases, be used for pool water heating.

Think big

Macalester College Natatorium
Reviewing all aspects of an indoor pool’s operation determines if replacement of existing equipment will have long-term paybacks and benefits.

When developing and implementing cost-effective energy-conservation strategies, operators need to focus on the largest energy users first. By understanding the different energy requirements of various systems within the aquatic centre, an operator can easily optimize savings. Reviewing all aspects of an indoor pool’s operation determines if replacement of existing equipment will have long-term paybacks and benefits. For new construction, advances in current technology are available to reduce energy consumption from day one. Energy costs are predicted to rise in future years, making it crucial for operators to understand a facility’s current energy use and implement strategies today to reduce future demand.



._DSCN0557Christopher Chivetta is president of Hastings & Chivetta Architects Inc. He can be reached via e-mail at

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