The Town Board of Southampton, N.Y., has revamped a law that originally allowed pools to be heated only by solar energy.
Last summer, town officials passed the Energy Conservation Code, mandating that all pools have solar systems sized to maintain water temperature of at least 80 degrees between May and September.
The industry found the code too restrictive. “It just didn’t work with everybody,” said Ed Guillo, vice president of Southampton-based Guillo Pools. “Think of the poor lady who has a yard full of trees, so she would have no sunlight whatsoever — she’s going to be required to do solar? That’s not fair.”
The code originally was to take effect Oct. 1, 2008, but officials from the Northeast Spa & Pool Association negotiated an extension so they could propose alternate language.
NESPA’s version passed in December 2008, striking out the original law. With that change, one of the strictest energy-conservation codes witnessed in the pool and spa industry has been mellowed.
The new law is based on NESPA’s Cool Pool Program, which the group began developing in response to the original Southampton requirements. The organization plans to use it as a model code to take to other municipalities concerned with energy efficiency.
“We hope to use this as a way to further the [message] that ‘Everything is going green these days, and so are we in the pool industry,” said NESPA Executive Director Lawrence Caniglia.
The law, which affects all pools built or renovated beginning Jan. 1, 2009, addresses a range of issues that impact energy efficiency, from heaters and pool covers to hydraulics.
All heated outdoor pools must have solar covers in place when not in use. Pool heaters must meet the minimum energy efficiency requirements set by the U.S. Department of Energy. No continuously burning pilot lights are allowed.
On the hydraulics side, all pools must have piping of at least 2 inches if the vessel covers more than 500 square feet of surface area or uses an independent second pump. Smaller pools without that second pump must have piping at least 11/2 inches in diameter. The law also mandates several other hydraulic specifications, including no hard right-angled elbows, and directional inlets of 1/2 inch or greater.
Several requirements affect pump usage. The law specifies pump type based on the pool’s surface area. Those under 500 square feet and without an auxiliary feature connected to the circulation system can have a single- or two-speed pump of 1 horsepower or less, or a variable-speed pump. If a waterfeature or other element is powered by the circulation pump, it must be a two-speed or variable-speed. A pool measuring 500- to 799 square feet needs a multispeed pump. A larger installation requires a variable-speed pump. Dedicated pumps for waterfeatures or other independent elements must be less than 1 horsepower.
Single- and two-speed pumps must be programmed to run only during off-peak hours for pool circulation, unless the pump is being used to circulate water through a heat exchanger or solar heater.