By Mike Fowler
Every year, aquatic facility managers review their operating costs and usually find their electricity bill to be one particular expense that never seems to get cheaper. For an aquatic facility, there is so much equipment that uses electricity that the simply ideology of ‘turning off the lights’ does not help to lower these costs. Everyone realizes an aquatic facility’s mechanical room consumes a lot of electricity; therefore, it is the logical place to start when looking for ways to reduce operating expenses.
Today, there are many new cost calculators in the marketplace which allow facility operators to pinpoint where the most electricity is being consumed in the mechanical room. Thanks to these online tools, an increasing number of operators are using them to evaluate their facilities. For instance, the figures generated by a cost calculator can be used as the basis for presenting the need to upgrade or modernize a facility’s mechanical room with more efficient equipment (such as a variable frequency drive [VFD] pumps). Cost calculators can also show prospective saving capabilities to utility companies when seeking possible rebates.
Knowing the potential savings that can be achieved by simply upgrading the pool equipment is the first step in renovating a mechanical room. However, the decision to do so becomes more definite once an aquatic facility operator sees on paper just how much the facility can save in terms of electricity costs (between $300 and $1000 a year, sometimes more).
What is the cost calculator?
As the name implies, cost calculators are set-up to determine the cost of electricity for one particular piece of equipment in the mechanical room. Pumps are typically the first place to start because they can consume a lot of electricity. The calculator will start by asking questions about the aquatic facility—so operators must be ready to input various information (e.g. the pool’s total water volume and the pump’s turnover rate). (See Table 1 below). Calculators will also ask if there is a minimum required flow rate along with the number of days the pool is open per year, how long the equipment runs, and pool’s hours of operation.
To start this process, operators should have an electricity bill handy to enter the cost per kilowatt hour (kWh), as well as know the horsepower (hp) of the facility’s pump(s). Cost calculators will even take into consideration the size of the suction and return pipe, and the estimated flow rate.
By entering this information, the facility’s power demand, energy use per day and, more importantly, cost per annum, can be quickly identified. Comparing the figures of a facility’s electrical consumption using its current equipment to that of a new, energy-efficient pump, for instance, will show the savings in black and white (see Figure 1 above).