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Energy Efficiency: Heating the swimming pool without the guilt

Paul Scott, technical director of Heatstar, discusses the social responsibility of building and running a swimming pool and looks at one way of assuaging the guilt.
Energy Efficiency: Heating the swimming pool without the guilt
THERE is no doubt rising energy costs, the effects of climate change and concerns over the long term security of our energy supplies are having a significant effect on the way we think about and use energy and that very much includes swimming pools.

Global warming is one of those issues which potentially affect all of us. Collectively we may all be responsible for the world’s changing climatic conditions, melting ice caps and increasing sea levels, yet individually, what can we do about it?

A decision on behalf of an organisation or individual to choose to build a new domestic indoor swimming pool is one, which increasingly has to bear a level of social responsibility.

Although, in the past, swimming pools have historically benefited from the application of energy recovery equipment, this has largely been because of a natural commercial benefit available to the pool owner/operator through the application of equipment aimed at reducing the otherwise significant costs incurred through energy usage.

In the past year alone awareness of energy consumption associated with swimming pools has increased and, together with changes to part L of the Building Regulations; the focus has never been higher.

Increasingly these days, a prospective client for an indoor pool often wants to incorporate as many energy saving features as possible.

There is, perhaps, a desire to offset possible feelings of guilt associated with the environmental impact of the luxury of an indoor pool. We have all witnessed the adverse publicity which drivers of gas-guzzling off-road vehicles have had to endure of late and if a client is able to “wax lyrical” to anyone who will listen about all the energy-saving equipment he has chosen to use on his pool project, then this must help enhance a little more comfort in this regard.

There are also more practical issues to consider, such as local authority planning policies encouraging the use of renewable energy sources and the forthcoming code for sustainable houses.

The dropping of gas- and oil-fed central heating boilers, in preference to ground-source domestic heat pumps, has been a very significant trend witnessed over this short period of time. This particular approach has been particularly popular on indoor pools because the client generally has the capital budget available to cover the costs of installation and also the land available in which to install the heat collecting tubes.

To maintain optimum efficiency and the best COP, the primary circuit temperature provided by a ground-sourced heat pump is significantly less than a fuel-fired alternative. This is particularly relevant to swimming pool applications, where the required temperatures for the pool water and the pool hall air are considerably greater than for normal domestic areas with the result that the temperature difference available for heat exchange is very marginal.

One company which has been quick to embrace the concept of using ground source heat pumps on pools is Heatstar, which has successfully developed a special range of pool hall climate control machines, like the new Phoenix system, designed specifically to overcome the characteristics involved.

Heatstar has also already developed the necessary software to predict the genuine operating cost benefit involved in using a ground heat pump on any given indoor pool application and to confirm the necessary flow rates involved etc to the installers.

The new Phoenix incorporates an on-board heat pump system which is employed to generate heat to help heat the pool room air and also the pool water. The on-board heat pump extracts energy from the water vapour and convected heat, which is lost from the surface of the pool.

The on-board heat pump is also used to extract energy from any pool hall air, which is extracted to atmosphere for fresh air dilution purposes. After the exhausted air has already been de-energised by the heat pump, there is a further secondary heat recovery process employed using an air-to-air plate heat exchanger.

For maximum general efficiency, the Phoenix uses fans with directly coupled disc rotor motors and automatic fan power controllers.

Heatstar T: 01983 521465
1 July 2007


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