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Solar thermal heating

Solar panels can be mounted on the ground or a racking structure; however, the roof of the house is usually the best place for installation.

By Colleen Simmons

Have you ever noticed that organic fruits and vegetables cost more or that free-range chickens and their eggs are more expensive? What about the fact airlines charge extra for zero-carbon-footprint flights? We all would like to save the planet and feel good about doing something environmentally friendly, but it often comes at too high an expense, or too much of a compromise. It is not often someone can find a way to do what is right for the planet and still save some money; however, with solar swimming pool heaters, pool builders have the opportunity to encourage their customers to become more eco-conscious, while saving them money and increasing the company’s overall revenues.

There is seemingly constant coverage in mainstream media about solar and green initiatives, but for the average homeowner, these ideas require a huge lifestyle and financial commitment. Most people cannot make the leap to incorporate most types of alternative energy sources (e.g. a wind generator or hydroelectric turbine). However, introducing customers to the idea of solar pool heating can be the perfect start to an energy-conscious lifestyle. It offers a good entry to the world of alternative energy, both cost and commitment wise.

We think of a beautiful pool as a luxury, but we want to make sure this luxury is not wasteful in terms of energy requirements. Introducing environmentally responsible pool heating methods will encourage people to install new pools, as they will not flinch at the monthly heating bills. In addition, existing pool owners will swim more, which in turn increases the supply of and demand for chemicals, accessories and service.

The importance of alternative energy lifestyles

The world’s massive consumption of energy and natural resources has made the push toward ‘green’ living more a necessity than an option. Burning fossil fuels is dramatically increasing the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, resulting in melted glaciers, droughts and damaged eco-systems. Some economists are even estimating we could be living in a world without oil by as early as 2050. All of these doomsday scenarios point to one conclusion: alternative energy lifestyles need to be encouraged, sooner rather than later.

For example, 11.3 L (3 gal) of burned and refined oil provides 400,000 British thermal units (Btus) once; however, the same amount of oil used to make a 1.2- x 3.6-m (4- x 12-ft) solar panel can create more than 10 million Btus a year, using only the sun as fuel. For consumers, this is a reasonable incentive to adopt solar heating in place of more costly heating methods, such as natural gas or electricity. For the pool industry, this translates to an influx of business.

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