By Mike Fowler
During tight economic times, facility managers are looking for ways to reduce their operating expenses. Commercial aquatic facilities that heat their pools and spas tend to notice high energy bills come the fall and winter, especially with energy costs continually on the rise. When talking to a facility manager—whether bidding on a complete renovation or simply a pool maintenance program, commercial pool service companies should offer suggestions on how the facility can be operated more efficiently. Discussing the water heater is something that will surely grab their attention.
The buzz words these days are all about saving costs and being ‘green’ or energy efficient. It is a no brainer with heaters; older models, from seven to 10 years ago, may have had a 78 per cent efficiency rating, however, they are probably now only 60 per cent efficient. Reason being, over time heat exchanger tubes fill with buildup and even the burners get clogged.
Upgrading heaters in an aquatic facility is the perfect opportunity for a commercial pool service company to increase its bottom line, while helping clients lower their heating bills and making them a loyal client in the future.
Why new heaters make sense
When selling a heater upgrade to a potential client, first explain how their current heating system works and how it can become less efficient over time. Pool professionals would be surprised to know most facility managers are not exactly sure how their heaters work, or how heater operation affects operating costs.
Explain how the pool pump draws water from the pool to circulate it through the filter and into the heater. The heater’s combustion chamber ignites the gas, heating copper tubes arranged above the burner tray. As water passes through, heat from the copper tubes is conducted to the water, increasing its temperature. The water then returns to the pool and re-circulates for consistent heating. This simple process provides quick, controlled heat.
If the client wants to know why they should upgrade to a new heating system, the reasons are simple:
- A new heater is capable of immediately lowering energy bills as they have much higher efficiency ratings (85 to 90 per cent) and use less energy.
- The current heating system, more than likely, is not operating anywhere near its original efficiency rating.
- Today’s heaters have a smaller footprint and take up less space in the equipment room.
- New heaters have lower emissions for better air quality, which also makes them environment friendly.
- They are also easier to maintain and install (plug-and-play design).
The scoop on new high-efficiency swimming pool heaters
Gas pool heaters are rated by British thermal units (Btus). Inputs and outputs range from 75,000 to 4,500,000 Btu. For example, if the heater is rated 85 per cent efficient, with a 400,000 Btu input, the output (heating capability) is 85 per cent of the total Btu. In this case, 340,000 Btus would come out of the heater.
Using the same example as above, a seven to 10-year-old heater, which was 78 per cent efficient brand new would have an output of only 280,000 Btus. Of course, this is assuming the heater is still operating at the same efficiency rating it did when it was first installed. Most heaters, however, start losing efficiency over a period of time just from basic operation.