THE GREAT COVERUP
Since the dawn of time certain pairings have emerged victorious over others, immortalising their place in our hearts and joining the ranks of other such deserving legends. Consider how woeful vegemite would be without its faithful starchy accompaniment, toast. A world where Robin isn’t Batman’s devoted sidekick isn’t worth fathoming and likewise, a pool without a pool cover is tragically incomplete. Here, Pool + Outdoor Design’s Mark Lewis and Emma Warner Allen discuss the benefits of pool covers with Steve Lothian owner of Aussie UnderCover, Lucia Malejko director of Maleco Pool and Spa Covers, Derek Prince owner of Daisy Pool Covers, Marcus Tame general manager of TPEC Pool Enclosures, and Carl Voshege managing director of Remco.
Written by Emma Warner Allen.
POOL OUT ALL THE STOPS
A common misconception is that the heat from the sun alone will warm your pool’s water to that of an ambient bath, achievable, of course, only by forgoing a pool cover so that the sun can really penetrate to the deepest depths. Unfortunately, the result of this method presents the perfect conditions for sinking the Titanic – bitterly cold. The addition of a pool cover will insulate your pool by trapping the heat inside, reducing the time your heating system has to run for and extending the length that you can comfortably swim in tropical temperatures. Additionally, a pool cover also eliminates evaporation, in turn reducing the amount of water needed to maintain your pool’s water level.
When consulting the experts on this matter, all unanimously agreed that utilising a cover would help to maintain your pools temperature, and conserve water. The addition of a pool cover also helps to reduce maintenance and chemical consumption by protecting your water from debris. While these are all excellent benefits, “the real consumer benefit is that they get to enjoy their pool more at less cost”, Prince notes.
In the second-driest continent in the world and one savagely gripped by the effects of the climate crisis, with bushfires and droughts an almost ever-present issue, taking the appropriate steps as an individual to mitigate your negative impact on the environment is essential. “In today’s climate, we have energy and water saving concerns,” Prince echoes. “A pool cover will minimise the need to regularly refill your pool. And living in Australia, we all know how important it is to conserve water”, Voshege remarks. “It’s not just leaks or excess splashing that cause a drop in your swimming pool water level. Evaporation is a substantial contributor to water loss and if not controlled, it can lead to damage to your skimmers and pump system”, Lothian elaborates.
Minimising the amount of water lost also helps to reduce energy consumption. As you’re not constantly adding cold water from your hose to your beautifully heated pool, you are reducing the amount of timethat the heating system has to run for to increase the temperature to its set value. Speaking to the benefits of his own system, Tame notes that TPEC Pool Enclosures will “naturally heat the pool by approximately ten degrees with natural sunlight, and also insulate the pool from heat loss during cooler months”, meaning your pool heating system only needs to work a fraction of the time to maintain a pleasant temperature. Similarly, with Maleco, “[our pool cover] mainly works as a smart solar system so your heater hardly has to work”, Malejko enthuses. Though energy-saving benefits are not just exclusive to Maleco and TPEC Pool Enclosures, and as Lothian neatly summarises: “if a warm pool is a must-have for you, a pool cover can help to significantly reduce your heating bills.”
All these benefits are not only great for the environment, but they’re also excellent news for your budget. Daisy Pool Covers reveals its partnership with the University of New South Wales whereby they research the energy savings a pool cover has on swimming pools. The research measures a plethora of statistics including energy cost, fuel load, the colour of the pool and the amount of wind. “[To cut a] long story short, we can prove that a pool cover will pay for itself in the first 12 months in saved energy costs”, Prince declares. Essentially, “heating bills for your pool will be lower, you’ll use substantially less water, and you won’t have to buy as many chemicals. When it comes down to it, it’s the smarter financial choice”, Voshege affirms.
DON’T JUDGE A POOL BY ITS COVER
Given the large range of benefits that the simple addition of a pool cover will bring you, the choice to find the correct one may seem overwhelming. With multiple different types on the market – each specifically targeting a particular benefit – it can be challenging to know exactly which option is best suited to your circumstances. “There are a large variety of pool covers available. The most popular are solar pool covers. A solar cover will assist in heating the water and will also retain heat from a heat source … Thermal covers are also popular in colder areas. They will retain heat from a heating source but will not assist in heating, as solar covers do”, Lothian explains. Regardless of your choice, you can rest assured that the addition of a pool cover – whatever it may be – will ensure you reap all the benefits listed above.
If you’re still concerned about finding the right pool cover, all reputable brands will work with you to find the solution that perfectly suits your needs, and many companies will create a unique pool cover to your exact specifications. Such is the case with Remco, “Remco specialises in custom made, fully automatic, fully integrated pool cover solutions”, Voshege notes before explaining that “in many cases [our covers are] load bearing in order to add an additional layer of safety around the swimming pool.”
Occupying another niche in the market, Maleco covers are a hard surface that sits above your pool or spa on vertical runners that enable it to be raised up and down at the touch of a button, providing coverage while the pool is not in use and shade when it is. Attesting to this, “our covers operate on a ‘press button’ system. It’s really easy to use and the rubber seal that we use means you use fewer chemicals. It keeps the water clean, but primarily it works as a smart solar system, so your heater does not need to work a lot at all”, Malejko enthuses.
While the pool covers provide an extraordinary range of benefits, Tame even recommends going one step further than just a pool cover. As a sole provider of pool enclosures, Tame notes that, “naturally there are entry level pool covers, right up to fully automated pool covers and hard covers. For not much more than a high-end cover, a customer can reap much more benefits, in keeping the pool cleaner, warmer and more usable. We often recommend the use of a cover with an enclosure in cooler areas. Customers would choose an enclosure over a cover because an enclosure will keep the leaves and debris out and will actually provide a far longer swimming season.” Pool enclosures act in a similar fashion to pool covers, however, the covers sit above the water and have an appearance similar to that of a glasshouse. The enclosures can be customised, allowing visitors to stand while out of the water or they can sit just above the water, and all of TPEC Pool Enclosures’ designs can even be folded back so that you don’t have to swim with the enclosure on – though this may be preferable in the colder months.
UNDER THE COVERS
There’s no point having a smoke alarm if you don’t replace the batteries, and just like with the smoke alarm, owning a pool cover is only effective if used correctly. To reap the full benefits of your pool cover, knowing how and when to use it is vital to ensure you get the most out of this sage investment.
To do this, it is best to keep your pool covered whenever it’s not in use. “These days, the cover is essential because if you heat your pool and swim spa without the cover all the heat is being lost to the air. Also, a pool cover means that no leaves, dirt, or mess can get into your pool or swim spa”, Malejko explains. Though Tame notes, the best time to use your pool cover is “most of the time except on warmer days”. When the outside temperature is the same as the water temperature, you don’t have to be as concerned about as much evaporation and heat being lost to the atmosphere given the low temperature differential.
If you are privileged enough to have an indoor pool, perhaps surprisingly, the recommendation remains the same. Though evaporation will not be a factor, trapping the heat in the pool is still important. “While it’s not always required for low or medium enclosures, on larger enclosures in cooler environments we recommend at least a basic thermal cover”, Tame notes. Voshege continues, “indoor pools not only require pool heating, but also air handling systems so that the moisture content of the air inside the room is minimised. With the cover on, not only will the pool heating requirement be minimised, but air handling systems can be run at a fraction of the time that would normally be required. This translates into significant energy savings on both fronts.”
Irrespective of the energy savings made, indoor pools are infamous for creating excess amounts of condensation. Most of us will have been to an indoor pool at some point in our lives and will have memories of being hit by the claustrophobic humidity as you reach the changing rooms, which, combined with the smell of chlorine, becomes almost overwhelming by the time you reach the pool. Working to reduce this mugginess, “a pool cover is a physical barrier, it stops evaporation, but it also stops condensation which means you’ll get a longer life out of your building”, Prince explains. Water damage’s notorious reputation precedes it so I need not explain how detrimental any moisture or dampness can be to the integrity of a building or structure. By ensuring your pool is kept undercover, you can be assured that you have taken the correct steps to prevent any harmful damage occurring.
THE CIR-POOL OF LIFE
As with all purchases, it is understandable that you will want to get the most for your money. While your pool cover pays for itself in saved energy costs over the course of a year, like Pringles – once you pop you can’t stop – and it’s only natural to want to maximise your return on investment. Understanding the importance of pool covers, Aussie UnderCover provides storage solutions that help to increase the longevity of your pool cover by protecting it from the harmful elements.
Aussie UnderCover specialises in providing pool cover storage solutions, which helps to extend their lifespan. Attesting to its benefits, “the Aussie UnderCover can significantly increase the life of your pool cover. Most above-ground pool covers come with a pro rata warranty between five and ten years and, a cover to put over the pool cover when it is not on the pool. Unfortunately, most people don’t use this additional cover and as a result they reduce the life of their cover. With the Aussie UnderCover, your pool cover is hidden away out of UV sunlight and protected when not in use without the need for any additional cover … [and it is] designed to be totally hidden in its environment”, Lothian explains.
Some pool covers are not made from the typical materials you might expect. In Maleco’s case, its system is “made from an aluminium structure, so it has a long lifespan. The full system has a three-year warranty as well”, Malejko states. While TPEC’s pool enclosures’ “should last 20 to 30 years, with occasional cleaning and a [recommended] service of key components once every 5 years to keep it looking its best”, Tame states. Should your pool be serviced by a conventional pool cover, ensure that it is stored on a roller and that the outer pool cover is on to prevent deterioration from damaging UV rays. Doing so is a guaranteed way to extend your pool cover’s lifespan. “Surface mounted rollers will benefit from a cover over the top of the roller when the cover is fully retracted. This will reduce UV exposure and degradation over time”, Voshege confirms.
While you are afforded the luxury of choice when it comes to different pool covers and how they are stored, the question of whether you should implement a pool cover or enclosure is non-negotiable. With overwhelming benefits, and a quick return on investment, it is the smart thing to do not only for your budget but also for the environment. Whichever avenue you decide to explore, be sure to talk to the trusted professionals who will be able to offer invaluable advice and guidance to tailor the perfect solution to your lifestyle and circumstances.