Pool covers are cheap and very effective. They can pay for themselves through energy savings in less than a year... Most of a pool’s heat loss – more than 90% - occurs at its surface, through evaporation to the air, or radiation to the sky, and pool covers prevent it.
Contrary to what some pool builders claim, you don't need very high levels of pool insulation. Reasonable levels of wall insulation is important, but the best way to prevent heat loss and get energy savings in a pool is to use a pool cover.
A pool cover can also reduce water loss by up to 50%, and as a consequence the amount of chemical water treatment.
Pool covers can provide energy savings up to 50% or more in heated pools. They are one of the most important techniques for energy savings.
Consider a pool blanket if…
- the nights in your area are cool;
- if you heat your pool.
For a small home pool, consider a simple bubble-solar pool cover…
- Bubble covers are inexpensive and...
- Easy to deploy, move and store;
Keep also in mind potential disadvantages: pool blankets only are advantageous in climates with cool nights, and opaque covers will reduce potential solar heat gains during the daytime hours.
Types of pool covers
When buying, consider carefully the pros and the cons of the two main types of pool covers: 1) bubble covers (also called solar covers) and 2) vinyl covers.
According to some estimates a pool cover can pay for itself in less than a year – though that depends on how it is used and varies with climate. For high energy savings, you have to use the cover in a daily basis during the whole swimming season.
Bubble (or 'solar') covers are cheap and very lightweight and easy to use.
Be aware, anyway: they wear “easily”. You may have to replace your bubble cover every three or four years of regular use.
Bubble covers are the most common type of pool covers in the market, and though their fabric is very similar to bubble-packing materials, they have UV inhibitors and are more resilient. Be cautious with cheap bubble covers.
You can find bubble covers at home improvement stores or on online sites such as Amazon.com. They are inexpensive (say, $150 for a 20x40 solar cover: see Amazon: Pool Solar Covers).
Vinyl covers have a longer lifespan (not necessarily much longer); they are heavier and may come with a thin layer of flexible insulation material between the two sheets of vinyl. On the other hand, vinyl is an environmentally-unfriendly material and the covers are a lot more expensive and difficult to use.
Bottom line: if the nights in your area are cool, or if heat your pool, covers can be a good investment.
Simple bubble covers are cheap and easy to deploy, move and store, and the best choice for small home swimming pools.