How to make your swimming pool more environmentally friendly

Create a pool that is energy efficient, kind to skin and will last longer

Having a pool in your vacation rental is a definite attraction for guests and a popular search filter. But have you ever thought about the environmental impact associated with running one?

You might be surprised to know that taking action to create an eco-friendly swimming pool can actually reduce the running and maintenance costs. As you will know, keeping your swimming pool operating is critical to your guests’ enjoyment. It could be one of the main reasons they booked your place and if there are problems, it can seriously affect reviews.



What is the environmental impact of a traditional chlorine swimming pool?

Swimming pools have an environmental impact from three main aspects: water usage, chemical usage and energy to power them. The use of water may be less easy to tackle, but you can certainly address the use of chemicals and energy. By doing this, you will create a much more eco-friendly swimming pool and lower your pool bills at the same time.


The negative impact of pool chemicals

Pool chemicals like chlorine are used to disinfect pools and keep them free of algae and bacteria. However, they are often very harsh, as indicated by the “danger” labels on them and the need to handle them with caution.

From a guest comfort perspective, chlorine can be an irritant to eyes, lungs and the upper respiratory tract, not to mention the unpleasant smell. With the high numbers of people across the world suffering from allergies like eczema and asthma, this affects a high percentage of guests. Not to forget the safety of your operational team to ensure that they are storing and handling the pool chemicals safely.

Aside from the potential impact on guest comfort, pool chemicals can also get into waterways if they are not managed in the property or pools are drained incorrectly.

As you will read, there are many alternatives to harsh chemicals, which are just as efficient and often more cost-effective.

Energy needed to run a swimming pool

Running a swimming pool can be a very energy intensive process. Consequently, any improvements you can make as the property owner or manager can generate significant savings.

The first area to consider is the pump. The average cost of running a pool pump can be US$13 to US$50 per month depending on the type of unit you have. So, it is always worth checking out the type of pump you have and, particularly if it needs replacing, invest in a more energy-efficient model.

Then, the second influencing factor is the heating of the water. The median monthly cost of running a pool heater is US$120-300, representing a sizable part of your pool running costs.

There are a number of actions you can take to improve your swimming pool from an efficiency point of view, which are covered in the Sustonica criteria for Country Homes with Pools.



1. Install an ionisation system

As mentioned, there are many alternatives to using chlorine, which will help you create an eco-friendly swimming pool in your vacation rental.  Choosing one of these will create a comfortable experience for your guests without compromising the water safety.

A very popular option is to install an ionisation system. These are usually made from copper and silver to remove bacteria and algae in the water. The in-line electrical ionisation unit is connected to the pump and filtration system. This system is typically used together with active oxygen treatments or low levels of chlorine for good sanitization.


DID YOU KNOW? – Running your swimming pool or hot tub on an ionisation system can get you up to 2.00% on the Sustonica criteria! Check out our standard.

Why is it part of the criteria? Ionisation is a safe and healthy option for treating hot tubs and pools. It is safe for humans and poses no harm to the environment.


N.B. We do recommend that you consult a qualified pool company to discuss the best options for your particular vacation rental.



2. Use saltwater chlorination instead of pure chlorine

Actually, saltwater pools do use chlorine, but the levels are much lower.  Also, it is introduced into the pool in a different way. Instead of chlorine tablets or liquid, salt is added directly to the water and a salt chlorine generator converts the salt into chlorine. It also involves a different filtration system to traditional chlorine pools.


DID YOU KNOW? – Running your swimming pool or hot tub with a saltwater chlorination system can get you up to 2.00% on the Sustonica criteria! Check out our standard.

Why is it part of the criteria? Using saltwater chlorination instead of traditional chlorine can reduce the use of harsh chemicals and provide a gentler and more sustainable way to keep the pool and hot tub clean.


N.B. We do recommend that you get professional advice to help you create your eco-friendly swimming pool.



3. More sustainable ways to heat your pool

Of course, having an unheated pool is the most environmental and cost-efficient option. However, this is only possible in destinations that receive a lot of warm sun. But there are other ways you can reduce your pool heating bills.


Heat pump

Consider fitting a heat pump to heat the pool water. These can be installed in conjunction with the hot water for the property itself, or as a standalone unit just for the pool. Heat pumps run on electricity and are very efficient, usually using around 1 kW of power to generate 4 kW of electricity. You could combine this with a photovoltaic panel on your pool house roof to generate enough electricity to power the heat pump as well as the pool pump.


Solar panels

Another option for heating the water in your pool is to install solar panels specifically for heating an eco-friendly swimming pool. This allows the water to be heated in conjunction with the swimming pool pump.



DID YOU KNOW? –  Heating your swimming pool and/or hot tub with renewable energy or not heated can get you up to 10.00% on the Sustonica criteria! Check out our standard.

Why is it part of the criteria?  Installing an energy-efficient heating system, such as a heat pump or solar panels, can reduce the energy consumption of pools and hot tubs and lower your carbon footprint. The best option is to have no heating.


N.B. Please consult with a renewable energy installer to check out the best option for your property.




4. Monitor and regulate the temperature

As mentioned, one of the most energy intensive aspects of a swimming pool is heating it. If you are unable to have an unheated pool, then making sure that the temperature is constant will undoubtedly save you money.

There are some excellent solutions on the market which will provide the following:

  • Temperature control
  • Energy efficiency
  • Remote control
  • Weather monitoring
  • Maintenance alerts


DID YOU KNOW? – Using a smart thermostat for your pool and/or hot tub can get you up to 2.00% on the Sustonica criteria! Check out our standard.

Why is it part of the criteria? Smart pool/hot tub thermostats help to promote energy efficiency and reduce energy waste, as they allow for precise temperature control and reduce the need for manual adjustments.



5. Install natural filtration

There is increasing demand from consumers for more natural solutions which avoid harsh chemicals like chlorine. As a result, the interest in natural pools has increased over recent years.

A natural pool uses materials such as rocks and plants to keep water healthy and free of bacteria and algae. This method is often referred to as biofiltration. One area of the pool is kept separate to the swimming area to allow for natural filtration.

Installing an eco-friendly swimming pool or converting an existing chlorine pool requires careful planning. Consequently, it is advisable to speak to a pool company in the early stages.



DID YOU KNOW? – Having a natural filtration system for your pool can get you up to 2.00% on the Sustonica criteria! Check out our standard.

Why is it part of the criteria? By relying on natural processes, such as the action of bacteria and plants, to remove contaminants and impurities, natural filtration systems can help to promote a more sustainable and eco-friendly approach to water purification.



6. Other tips for an eco-friendly swimming pool

The advice given above, and the practices covered in the Sustonica Criteria for Country Homes with Pools, are the most impactful ways to create an eco-friendly pool. However, there are some other thoughtful touches which will create a comfortable and sustainable experience for your guests.

If you provide pool towels, organic cotton or bamboo hammam towels are colourful and stylish, plus they are easier to wash and dry than traditional towels. The furniture around your pool area creates a relaxing and attractive ambience and can also be eco-friendly. Just opt for chairs and sun loungers from sustainable wood or replaceable recyclable plastic.

A couple of other clever solutions are to have a solar-heated shower. This will encourage guests to shower before they enter your pool – always important for maintaining water clarity and balance. Secondly, if you have lighting around your pool, solar or LED lights are a very good option. They will create a magical setting at night and become a real feature of your property.


An eco-friendly swimming pool ticks so many boxes: saves money, energy and carbon emissions; is healthier for your guests; can be less corrosive to pool parts.



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