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Alternatives for Solar Heating Pools

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Last Friday, George Kazdin, owner of Kazdin Pools & Spas in Southampton and a member of the Pool and Spa Association, and Sheryl Heather of the Sustainable Southampton Advisory Committee (Green Committee) met in a work session with members of the Southampton Town Board to offer a “cool pool” presentation and alternative methods to reducing energy consumption for pools in the community.
“I hope we have a win-win for everybody,” Heather said at the start of the meeting.
Recently enacted Southampton Town legislation, slated to go into effect on January 1, 2009, mandates that new pools built within the town be solar heated. Kazdin and Heather’s presentation outlined new, alternative ways for pool companies and owners to reduce energy consumption without going solar.
Last June, the town board adopted the new ‘green’ legislation in an effort to reduce the town’s carbon footprint — included in that legislation was a mandate for solar heating for pools. After much outcry on the pool portion of the new law, board members offered to delay the implementation of the legislation from its original date of October 1 to January 1.
Heather explained that at present, 322 pool permits were issued for 2008, and her guess is that approximately 300 new pools will be built in 2009. Heather argued that better plumbing practices, increased pipe size and a decrease in right-angled pumps would equal less energy use.
“The size and speed of the pump and design of the pump are keys to achieving and conserving energy for pools,” Heather said on Friday.
Heather also recommended that energy could be conserved through correct usage of pool covers, responsible heating, replacement pumps, pool maintenance and proper filtration. She also said that pool pumps are the number one source of energy consumption by pools. She recommended that the typical 90-degree pipes be replaced with sweep fittings, which are more aerodynamic and allow water to pass through much faster.
Heather also proposed that continuously burning pilot lights not be banned, as called for in the legislation.
Heather’s proposal also calls for the use of mandatory energy efficient pumps in new pool construction. By choosing a multi-speed pump for replacement, Heather notes that consumers with an existing pool will see significant energy savings – but as is the case in other Energy Star rated appliances, there is an increased cost.
“Pump rebates will help consumers to make the right choice,” Heather said, “and save energy.”
Heather said that alternatives for mandating solar heating could be achieved through incentive programs, encouragement, informational websites, public service announcements and community outreach and added that pool installers are currently encouraging solar installations.
“The bigger the pool the bigger the energy savings,” Heather said, “and this puts the ‘cool pool’ program on par with the town’s tiered energy star requirements for new home construction.”
Currently, she added, there are 11,000 pools in Southampton Town. Heather also argued that more energy will be saved by existing pools than on the construction of new pools and the potential savings can be achieved through an aggressive education program.
Councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst, who sponsored the original legislation, expressed discontent for the emission of a solar component completely in Heather’s presentation. She said though the presentation was good, it left out the very obvious.
“If you are using solar panels, there is no consumption of gas or oil — [with this plan] the fossil fuel component is still there…we would be completely moving away from a reduction in fossil fuel consumption.”
Heather said that there are three levels of energy efficiency, the good, the better and the best. Heather said that this proposal is still at the ‘best’ level.
Throne-Holst asked Long Island Pool and Spa Association representative George Kazdin how the new legislation compares to the optimum energy benefit for energy codes already on the books for pools.
“We are practically at the highest level,” Kazdin said.
Throne-Holst reiterated that the best option, though, would be to implement the solar mandate.
On Friday, Graboski, gave board members a draft of the new legislation, which would allow for public comment at a public hearing on December 9.