Reduce Heating Costs With a Plastic Pool Cover

Reduce Heating Costs With a Plastic Pool Cover

The most effective way of reducing the cost of heating your pool is by placing a plastic pool cover on top of the water

A plastic pool cover can also reduce the size of any solar heating system you have in mind for your pool, which saves money.

How Plastic Pool Covers Work

There are a number of ways that swimming pools lose heat, but the main way is through evaporation. It takes a great deal of energy to keep evaporating water heated. Outdoor pool energy and heat loss is due to a number of factors:

  • 70% of the energy/heat loss is from evaporation
  • 20% of the energy/heat loss is due to radiation to sky
  • 10% of the energy/heat is due to ground and other factors

The rate of evaporation for an outdoor swimming pool depends on several factors, including the temperature of the water, temperature and humidity of the air outside, and the wind speed over the pool’s surface. When the wind speed and pool temperature are high and the humidity in the air is low, the higher the rate of evaporation.


If you live in a windy area, you can build a windbreak with a fence or even trees and shrubs and this will reduce your evaporation. It should be built high enough as well as close enough to the pool so that it doesn’t create any turbulence in the water, which would only increase evaporation. The windbreak should also not put the pool in the shade because you need the sun to help heat it.

plastic pool cover Cape Town
Indoor pools are not affected by the environment, however this doesn’t mean they don’t lose energy and heat due to evaporation. They actually require the room to be ventilated to reduce the humidity indoors being caused by all that water evaporating, which requires air conditioning inside and that adds more to the cost of energy.


Plastic pool covers simply reduce the amount of evaporation whether you have an outdoor or an indoor pool. Covering your pool when it’s not being used is the most effective way to reduce the cost of heating your pool in Cape Town, SA. In fact, you can save 50% to 70% on energy costs.


On indoor pools, a plastic pool cover will reduce the evaporation as well as the need for ventilation, which allows outdoor air come inside and requires air conditioning. A plastic pool cover will also allow you to turn off the exhaust fans, and that too saves on energy.

plastic pool cover

Plastic Pool Covers in Cape Town

All you technically need to cover a pool with plastic is the appropriate sized sheet of plastic. This is a very effective vapor barrier. However, the type of plastic sheeting you can get from a hardware store is most likely not the best solution. It probably won’t be sturdy enough so it will tear and deteriorate in the sun. It also wouldn’t be easy to handle or store. You can always try this, but don’t plan on having it last more than a couple of seasons.


The best solution would be to get a plastic cover that’s been specifically designed for swimming pools made from vinyl, polypropylene, or UV-stabilized polyethylene. It could be dark or light in color, transparent or opaque.
If you’re looking to save money on a plastic pool cover, you should consider a bubble solar cover. These look similar to bubble wrap used as packing material, but they are thicker and made with UV inhibitors. These types of plastic pool covers are widely used in Cape Town.


Pool covers made of vinyl
Vinyl pool covers are made of heavier material and therefore tend to last longer than bubble pool covers. There are also insulated vinyl pool covers that are made with a thin layer of insulation placed between a couple of layers of vinyl.


Outdoor pools are heated by the sun because they can absorb 75% to 85% of the energy hitting the surface of the water. This is substantial, so you need to know that covering your pool will decrease this contribution to a certain extent and it does make a difference which type of cover you use. If you use a transparent bubble pool cover you may lose 5% to 15% of the sun’s energy while a totally opaque pool cover will cause you to lose 20% to 40%. These are things you should consider when choosing a pool cover.


You will also want to figure out if you should get a manual pool cover or an automatic or semi-automatic pool cover. The manual one would require you to pull the pool cover on and off yourself and when you’re ready to store it, you would need to fold it up and place it inside out of the sun. There are also reels you can buy that will help you maually roll it up. The reels come with wheels that will help you roll it away out of sight.


A semi-automatic pool cover will have a motorized reel system.

Electrical power is used to roll up and unroll the pool cover, but you would need to pull it on over the pool when it’s unrolling over the pool and guide the cover back onto the motorized reel when it’s time to roll it up again. These types of covers can be installed into the decking that surrounds the pool, or you can get a semi-automatic pool cover on a reel or a cart.
Automatic pool covers come with reels that are permanently mounted on the deck and all you need to do is push a button to get the cover to automatically cover or uncover your pool. This would be your most expensive option, but you can’t beat the convenience.


There are some pool covers that have built in tracks they fit into along the edges of the pool. This system keeps objects out and people from sneaking into the pool. A pool cover of this type can even support several people should they climb on. If you’re worried about being liable for an accident, this would be a good option to consider. These safety covers come in manual, semi-automatic or automatic and are often required by inspectors for public pools.


Additional Benefits
In addition to saving on the energy costs associated with heating your pool, plastic pool covers also provide other benefits:

  • Saves on the amount of replacement water you need by 30% to 50%
  • Reduces the amount of chemicals needed for the pool by 35% to 60%
  • Saves time and effort cleaning the pool because it keeps dirt, leaves and debris out
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