Energy & ResourcesNews In BriefSwimming Pools

Climate and cost key for pool heating solutions

The commercial swimming pool is up there with the most important features for many travellers, and for many it’s a deal-breaker. For some travellers these days, chemical solutions are less preferred, and many hotels are moving away from chlorine to gentler salt water solutions to maintain a clean bathing experience.

As technology advances, the industry is finding ways to use gentler chemical solutions, with more regular testing and maintenance programs, to achieve crystal clear water without so much of the chlorine smell.

When searching for a holiday destination, potential guests will ask questions like: Is the pool spacious? Is it attractive with space to relax and sunbathe? And for some locations, is there a swim-up bar that will serve me little umbrella adorned drinks?

A particularly relevant question in a large portion of New Zealand for much of the year: Is it a gasp-inducing icebox or is it heated, and lovely and warm? Travellers to more rugged climates are wondering, ‘can I bear to place more than my toes in the water?’.

For one resort, the answer was discovered right beneath their feet. An innovative joint venture between Taupo deBretts Resort and The Hilton Lake Taupo resulted in a hot water solution that serviced two large accommodation facilities using geothermal electricity.

The system was an extension of Taupo deBrett’s existing geothermal energy generation system that went on to provide heating water to the neighbouring Hilton hotel’s 100 rooms and apartments, restaurants, spa facilities, gymnasium and conference centre.

With pool suitability and satisfying bathing experiences such a high priority for guests, we asked Rheem New Zealand Ltd’s commercial manager Paul Watson to dive in with some expert advice and clear up any murky details.

Industry view

Pool heating: what’s out there and which is the best?

There are numerous ways to heat the swimming pool or spa that you provide as a value-added service for your guests. Mr Watson says options include a gas-fired or electric heating plant. When connected to a pool heating pump, these options represent an efficient use of electricity.

Thermal solar systems are also a possibility: “These are either stand-alone, that is, able to maintain the pool temp required on their own; or boosted thermal solar systems plant, that is, they require some form of boost plant – a pool plant with another energy source that heats the water in times of little or no solar gain.”

AdobeStock_13937214-300x200 Climate and cost key for pool heating solutionsThe option you choose will largely depend on your individual circumstances: Which energy sources can you access? What size is your pool and what plant size do you have available? Do you want to extend the season or create a 365-day-a-year swimming experience for your guests? What is the degree of temperature rise required to achieve this?

Mr Watson says these factors will help decide the mode, scale, and specifications of your pool water heating system.

With sustainable practice an increasingly important aspect of consumer decisions, selecting a method of heating that is efficient can protect your bottom line, at the same time as contributing positively to caring for the environment.

Mr Watson says operators will select an option based on which fuel source they have available, but also what they want to achieve with their pool heating: “Are they looking for a more economical solution to extend the season or to achieve a 365-day-a-year season, so guests can use the facilities all year round?”

Climate will also affect decisions and Mr Watson says heat pumps generally work well in warmer climates to extend a season, where bathing is year-round and ambient temperatures mean only moderate or minimal heating is required. For those chillier climates and alpine nights? “Gas pool heaters can give all-year-round heating in the coldest of climates.”

“The key is to source a correctly sized pool heater capable of maintaining a desirable temperature in the biggest or smallest of pools and spas. This means, ideally, one that runs for no more than approximately two to three hours a day to maintain the pool at the set temperature, extending swimming time and enjoyment for your guests.”

Budgetary factors will naturally combine with climate, pool size, energy source, and intended use in determining the ideal method of heating for your guests’ swimming pool.

“Considering pool heating accounts for around 85 percent of the energy costs of providing a swimming pool, using the most efficient heater relevant to your market makes sense.”

Mr Watson recommends accommodation businesses do their research on energy-efficient pool pumps: “A recent focus on energy savings in pool heating has prompted the industry to examine and redefine what an energy efficient pool pump actually is”.

Mr Watson’s parting advice?

  • Never undersize a pool heater
  • Always review your energy costs in the same format, (for example: cents per kilowatt).
  • Make sure there is suitable plant space for your project.
  • Make sure you are fully informed at purchase about both capital costs and ongoing energy cost, so you know what you are getting into!
  • Check pool testing company results, to avoid pool equipment failures due to incorrect pool chemistry.
  • Ensure you implement a routine maintenance schedule.



Suzy Barry

Suzy Barry is the editor of Accom Management Guide, New Zealand. She brings over a decade of editing and journalism to the title, and has experience in wellness tourism.

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