Pool Chemicals and Their Impact: 10 Tips and Green Alternatives

Not many of us are big fans of swimming pools. Not public ones and especially not home ones. Owning your own pool seems like a lot of work for a lot of people. Not only are they expensive to install and maintain, but they also take up a lot of space. And let’s not even mention the amount of water and pool chemicals you need to keep a pool topped up and clean!

However, if you are a pool owner, there are some issues you need to take into consideration. You probably have already thought about how you can make your pool greener; the following ideas will help you lessen the impact your pool has on the environment. Our eco-friendly tips will also lower the costs of owning and maintaining a healthy home pool.

Pool Chemicals

Many associate the smell of chlorine with fun thoughts of summertime and the refreshing water of swimming pools. Calcium hypochlorite is the chemical compound to blame – a white solid that pool owners add in granular or tablet form to their pool water. Its role is to kill the germs that might otherwise make swimmers sick.

When well-trained pool operators use this compound properly, it destroys germs that are to blame for numerous health problems. A day in the pool can result in diarrhea, nasty earaches, and various respiratory, skin and wound infections. However, when spa and pool waters are disinfected with calcium hypochlorite, they become healthful recreations.

But the story of chlorine doesn’t end here. If not done correctly, chlorinated pools can teem with health problems for children and adults alike. In addition to killing the germs, the strong smell of pool chemicals can also cause eye irritation and respiratory problems.

At the same time, draining pools and improperly discharging of backwash can also cause environmental issue to waterways. If you must use chlorine in your pool, avoid adding any more of this chemical for a full week before draining the pool.

Tips for Greening your Home Pool

Greening your pool is all about making some small yet effective changes in your home pool management. You will be able to cut down on both energy and water usage. In turn, saving on resources and costs will also help you keep your pool going even when water usage is restricted.

1. Cover the pool when you’re not using it. The problem doesn’t lie solely with the amount of water you initially put in your pool. Studies showed an uncovered pool (18 feet x 36 feet) loses about 7,000 gallons of water a year just through evaporation alone. For a bit of perspective, that’s enough drinking water to sustain one person for around 29 years. Buy a pool cover/blanket to reduce evaporation by 90 – 95 percent.

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2. Fix any leaks. Up to one in 5 in-ground swimming pools leak. Even a small leak in a pool can cause the daily loss of 700 gallons of water. A good indication of a potential leak is the loss of over a quarter inch of water every 24 hours. Addressing any leaks will help you save precious potable water, as well as a ton of cash.

3. Reduce pool chemicals. A pool cover/blanket can be part of the solution again. It can reduce chemical use by up to 50 percent. Not to mention that evaporative pool chemicals also contribute to the production of greenhouse gases, so you’ll be doing the planet a favor. Some alternatives to chlorine include oxygen systems and copper ionization, as well as ultraviolet (UV) sanitization systems. Sea salts are also good for reducing the need of other chemicals.

4. Install the right filter. There are different kinds of pool filters and some are more harmful the environment than others. Opt for cartridge filters instead of sand filters; the latter require backwashing to clean them, which can cause up to 15, 000 liters of water wasted annually.

5. Automated filters are the best. Most home pools need the filter to be working only 6–12 hours a day. Use a timer to ensure this; it’s a great way to reduce energy usage and the automated filter will pay for itself within the first few months of use. They also help reduce the chemical usage.

Less Energy Consumption

6. Use a solar heater to heat the pool. Get a warm pool by installing a solar pool heater in combination with a solar pool cover. This way, you get as much free solar heat as possible. The solar heater will considerably prolong your swimming season, as well as save you some serious cash on energy.

7. Save energy with a swimming pool pump. Invest in a smaller, high-efficiency pump (or a solar pump). It’s mandatory that the pump you choose will be fit for the size of your pool. Use the pump less frequently and minimize the usage during winter. Just like the filter, the pump can be automated with a timer for energy savings.

8. Top it up with rainwater. Reduce the use of mains water by topping up the pool with rainwater. You will need a rainwater diverter to obtain your pool’s rainwater supply; attach it to a downpipe. Invest in a diverter that filters out leaves and other debris. Be mindful of the overflowing risks during heavy downpours; plan for returning overflow to the storm water.

9. Keep the pool clean manually. Use pool vacuums and skimmers to keep the pool water clean. Making sure the pool stays fairly clean means the pool filter and pump will have less work to do. The pool’s heating equipment needs to be kept clean, too.

10. Surround your pool with a green windbreak. Grow native plants and shrubs that require less maintenance as a natural windbreak to reduce the evaporation rate. Just be sure to place the plants far enough from the pool so they don’t drop debris into the pool. Also, don’t choose plants that shed bark and leaves easily.


Owning a “green” home pool can be quite a hassle, we admit. However, after making these first steps towards a greener pool – using less pool chemicals, reducing the evaporation rate and so on – the pool will virtually start to take care of itself for the most part. It’s worth investing in the necessary equipment given the strain on resources such as water.

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William E. Eubanks
 

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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