Every year swimming pools are wasting billions of gallons of water that can be saved. This blog addresses the problems with the current use of full pool covers, and how half covers are the solution to pool water conservation. It takes only 200 pools using pool covers to save an entire 3.5 million gallon tank of city drinking water.
As introduction to this discussion let it be said that I do not manufacture pool covers. My name is David Hoff, and my contribution to water conservation is to promote a simple change to the way pools are covered, thereby removing the limitations restricting use of pool covers for the 70% of pools that currently are unable to use a cover, pools that are irregular shaped and so cannot use a deck reel to roll/remove the full size bulky covers. This change, which is to split your existing cover, or use lighter and easier to handle 1/2 pool covers, can potentially save billions of gallons of water every year lost due to evaporation. And because this change removes the prior limitations to using covers, it now becomes a mandate to use pool covers in the many areas that are water rationing due to severe drought...drought that is only predicted to worsen.
The Twofold Problem
It is well known that pool covers can reduce water evaporation by up to 95%, yet less than 30% of pools are using covers. The current limitations imposed by full covers for the most part boils down to two problems.
First, full covers are difficult to stock. Full covers are bulky and must be stocked in 50 or more sizes requiring a sizable amount of floor space to have covers on hand for the myriad of pool sizes. If a size goes out of stock, the customer has to wait until the warehouse reorders another truckload of covers. This distribution and stocking problem severely limits the available stock on hand at any one time and prevents the customer from being able to purchase on demand.
Second, full covers for the most part fit only rectangular shaped pools. Covers initially come off the production line as sheets in rectangular shapes and are heat seamed together for various widths. They can be further cut into oval or round sizes, but nevertheless most of the pools built today are irregular free-form shapes and custom designs. In order to accommodate free-form pool shapes the customer many times must oversize the cover which means ordering an even larger than needed cover and cookie-cutting the cover to the free-form pool using the inside of the pool cove as a guide. This however can create a lot of waste. And how do you accommodate say an L-shape pool?
The Twofold Solution
The twofold solution is that by using half covers, the number of cover sizes for distribution and stocking can be reduced from over 50 to just 4 half cover sizes (see below) which can be mixed-n-matched to work with almost all pools up to "L-Shapes" solving both of the aforementioned issues.
Encouraging the industry to distribute half covers allows more people that ever to cover their pools. This practical way of using half covers revolutionizes the way covers are stocked and distributed, never incurring oversize shipping charges, and allows dealers to have covers in stock so pool owners never go home empty handed. By solving the problems preventing all pools to use covers, in the wake of water shortages that are only getting worse, it becomes a mandate to encourage all pools to be covered.
Water Loss Calculation
Let's calculate the number of wasted tanks of drinking water through evaporation by pools.
Sacramento: Using an average evaporation rate of 17,500 gallons/pool annually, it takes only 200 pools to waste an entire city tank of water. If Sacramento has over 50,000 pools, then Sacramento alone wastes 250 tanks of city water every year (or) 2,125,000,000 (that's BILLION) gallons of water every year! What's that make you think about when they start rationing water and your lawn's going brown, while your bill's going up?
The 17,500 gallon/annual evaporation figure is probably conservative (other reports site 1.5"/week). In Australia one study by Sealed Air Corporation states over 86,000 liters per year, or over 22,700 gallons annually evaporates from the pool. In Las Vegas, the average is 100 inches per year, yet all evaporation rates vary depending on a number of conditions.
Nationwide: If the nation has around 8.5 million inground swimming pools, then nationally we waste 42,500 tanks of water every year. This amounts to 42,500(tanks) x 3,500,000(gals) = 148,750,000,000 gallons of water annually in the US alone. Again, that's BILLIONS!
Add an additional 30% for aboveground pools to approximate another 45 billion gallons of water evaporation, and we are looking at almost 200 billion gallons of water wasted annually in the U.S. alone. Aside from the water conservation issue, think about the cost of energy used to process and create that amount of drinking water.
Worldwide: Now think worldwide and one doesn't have to ask if this is an issue that is rife to be addressed with a sense of urgency by all parties involved.
The Industry Change to Half Cover Distribution
As mentioned above to be expounded on here, distribution of full pool covers today is a nightmare for distributors because full cover distribution requires a multitude of covers sizes to support the many different size pools out there. Enabling custom shaped pools to use half pool covers, the plan is to revolutionize the way covers are distributed, lowering the cost for everyone and making stock on hand a top priority to solve the problem with special ordering or waiting for a cover to come in stock.
Four Sizes: Employing the revolutionary strategy to provide half pool covers will solve this problem to support the majority of pools under 20x40ft. By shifting to the four size distribution model, half cover sizes (14x14, 16x16, 18x18, 20x20) can be mixed and matched to each half of the pool. Furthermore, online internet retailers can ship the lighter more compact half cover sizes, avoiding dreaded overcharges due to weight, making shipping costs more predicable and controllable. For anyone doing business over the internet, shipping lighter and more compact half covers alone is a remarkable dollar saving breakthrough.
Out of the Warehouse and Into the Stores: For retail stores, by reducing pool cover stock sizes from the multitude of covers sizes (that must be special ordered from the warehouse and delivered next day or longer if on back order) to just four sizes, covers can easily be stocked right at the store. With the new half cover distribution model, retailers can now have "stock on hand" for immediate purchase. Having stock on hand will substantially increase cover sales helping people more than ever not only have a warm pool, but most importantly conserve water and chemicals to help our environment.
Water Conservation Programs & Rebates
Current water shortages in parts of the nation, especially as mentioned in western U.S. areas like Las Vegas, are requiring communities to be on year round water restrictions and may potentially drive the increased demand and expansion of the pool cover market. Programs such as Water Smart in the Las Vegas area, and Water Sense sponsored by the EPA are dedicated to conservation. Additional programs by agencies offer pool cover rebates at participating dealers.
To do it's part in the fight for water conservation nationwide, the half pool cover distribution model will greatly assist in supplying stores everywhere with just-in-time stock on hand. In this way over time we will be helping to save billions of gallons of wasted water nationwide, by facilitating the distribution of pool covers in a much needed and better way. It takes about only 200 pools using a cover to save an entire city tank of water because a pool left unchecked for a year can completely evaporate... and that's a lot of wasted water!
Conservation is the Goal
In summary, the half cover distribution model will be doing it's part to conserve water and support the cause of many water starved communities (such as Las Vegas, Australia, and others) that are water rationing and promoting pool covers through rebates so consumers will do the right thing and cover their pools. Efforts to change the way pools are covered will revolutionize the distribution and stocking of pool covers, leading the industry to change it's distribution model which will dramatically conserve precious water. In the half cover distribution world, retailers and wholesalers will never be out of stock utilizing the revolutionary "just in time" stock on hand distribution model. Retail stores will more than ever have an incentive and the ability to stock covers at the store for immediate sale, rather than special order from the warehouse requiring customers to come back for pickup, and wholesalers will move more inventory out of the warehouse and into stores. The warehouse will benefit because they can enjoy the same profit margins, but move stock immediately out to retailers rather than waiting for truckload deliveries in their space constrained warehouses. And the customer will be able to get what they want, when they want it so that everybody wins in the never ending fight for water conservation.