Pool full of Coal

Swimming season’s here; start shoveling coal

I didn’t mean to wait until spring had fully sprung before restarting my pool pump, but I forgot to turn it on in August. Even though September is well under way, the water is still not green after leaving the pool pump off for 110 days. Compared to running the 0.75 kilowatt pump for 3 hours a day—as I previously did in the winters—I have saved myself nearly 250 kilowatt hours and spared the atmosphere a similar number of kilograms of carbon dioxide. Financially, I saved about R140 off my municipal bill. Compared to the conventional wisdom of running the pump 12 hours a day, I saved about R550 and kept a few bags of coal out of the pool. My only expense was R20 worth of algaecide.

I don’t like the idea of using algaecide, or any other pool chemical, for that matter. I know far too little about what happens to these chemicals when I backwash the pool. But the likelihood that the algaecide is still very toxic after more than 3 months in the pool seems rather slim.

So can I declare the experiment a success? Not quite. I should have anticipated that the pool pump was not happy to start after being left idle for so long. I had to physically get it turning with my hands—while the electricity was off—before it would move on its own. In the process I may have strained the capacitor. A new capacitor costs less than a hundred rand, but I hardly want to put my pump through such agony at the end of each winter. Next winter, I will set the timer to run the pump for a half hour each day. (Not during Eskom’s peak morning and evening hours.) I’m sure that a couple of hours exercise once a week would also keep the pump lively, if I trusted myself to remember.

Will this work on your pool? I certainly wouldn’t try it without a pool cover. And my pool cover is particularly suited to protecting the water from sunlight. After years of frustration with the limited durability of ordinary bubble pool covers, I bought a heavy duty bubble cover of the kind used on indoor public pools. It helps prevent algae growth because it doesn’t let through much light or heat.  That isn’t a problem for me in the swimming season since I have solar panels to warm the pool. And after more than 4 years, the cover is still strong.

I would be very interested to hear from others about their experiments with near-zero pumping.