It’s summertime and many of us, especially those suffering through the intense heat of 2012, are trying to stay cool and comfortable by any means possible. Air conditioning, ice packs, fans and staying indoors when it’s dangerously hot all play a role in helping to keep cool during hot weather, but what about pools?
Although we all enjoy a refreshing dip, especially on a sweltering day, pools, and air conditioning units for that matter, both require a lot of energy to operate and therefore require a higher paycheck to maintain. They also significantly contribute to climate change: the more energy needed to run a device, the greater the demand for source power. So, unless your pool and AC unit run entirely off of wind and/or solar power, you’re adding unwanted CO2 into the global atmosphere.
Pools are particularly notorious for guzzling up massive amounts of energy — and water. An average pool contains a whopping 20,000 gallons of water and collectively pools consume between 9 and 14 billion kilowatt hours of electricity. That’s the equivalent of annually powering 11 states plus Washington, DC.
Currently, 5.4 million in-ground residential swimming pools exist in the Unites States and, according to Opower, these homes use on average 49% more electricity per year than homes that don’t have pools. This figure equates to approximately $500 more spent on power per home per year, with the pool pump alone adding roughly $300 to the annual utility bill.
Why is it that homes with pools show an average increase in energy usage throughout the year when compared to similarly sized homes without pools? The main reason appears to go beyond the pool itself and into lifestyle. In fact, it’s been shown that homes with pools consume more energy across all seasons, not just summer months.
That said, is the life of luxury and subsequent waste mentality to blame? Does having more disposal income correlate with being less concerned about saving money and therefore less apt to care about the monthly electric bill? After all, occupants of homes with pools have generally been shown to have an income that’s twice the national average. And, of course, there’s the larger issue of carbon emissions: do those who can afford pools care less about climate change and their personal impact on the planet?
Behavior extrapolations aside, obviously not everyone who has a pool cares less about the environment, just as not everyone who doesn’t own a pool is eco-minded. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to indulge in a refreshing swim on a hot day, it might be wise to think about visiting a community pool instead, or swimming in a local lake or the ocean if you live on the coast. While we all can appreciate the relaxing pool-side atmosphere, the negative financial and environmental side effects seem to outweigh the positive.
Photo Credit: Rob