Guest Column - October 2016
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Cost Calculators: The First Step to Reducing Operating Costs

By Mike Fowler

Using the Cost Calculator for Proposals

Using the cost calculator is the first step in getting an aquatic facility to consider upgrading or retrofitting its pump room. It's an easy tool to close a deal with a facility that might be hesitant to upgrade equipment. When you can go from a $1,000 power bill in one year to $300 after upgrades, it's a real no-brainer. Then the question becomes, what will the facility do with that extra money? Programs? Other?

The city of London, Ontario, Canada, had a similar experience to that of San Antonio. Several years ago, the entire city hired an auditor to do a cost-benefit analysis of reducing energy consumption on all city-run facilities that included six municipal pools. The calculations were powerful enough that the city undertook retrofitting a myriad of systems to lower energy consumption. This included installing VFDs on all the pumps of all the municipal pools in the city.

Hollandia Pools was the company that won the bid to do the swimming pool pump retrofits. The city put VFD units on all their swimming pool pumps, and they also installed UV with the intention of reducing the overall "consumption" footprint on the planet as UV reduces chemical usage.

"Not only did they want to reduce their energy consumption, they also wanted to reduce their chemical consumption, so they installed UV systems on all their pools as well VFDs on all the pool pumps," noted Richard Deakin of Hollandia Pools & Gardens.

In the case of the City of London, there is a "redundancy" designed into all of their systems. They have a mandate to have two pumps on every body of water. One pump is in operation on the pool, and the other pump acts as a backup. Both pumps are plumbed and ready to go, and they switch on and off between pumps every month. As a result, Hollandia installed one VFD on every two pumps. As an example, one of the local community pools has two bodies of water: a lap pool and a wading pool for children. Each body of water has two pumps—one operational and one in reserve—and they switch the pump being used on a monthly basis. "These municipal pools have really high bather loads and cannot afford to be down at any point," Deakin said.

Deakin explained that a typical pool in the City of London is a Class A pool which requires that the water turn over six times per day or once every four hours. The city does require that the pool operate 24/7. The pumps are pulling and pushing water through the filtration system and as the filters get dirtier, the pumps need to speed up or slow down to meet the mandated city code flow rates. By putting a flow meter on the VFDs with the appropriate set points input into the flow meter, the VFD is then controlled by the flow meter readings.

Deakin understands the power of the cost calculator. He regularly shows prospective customers the results of previous customers. The City of London, for example, has recognized an overall cost savings of 30 to 60 percent on energy consumption.


For the past several years, we've seen everyone push for energy-saving products, and the swimming pool industry is no different. Remember when you're looking for money to put into that new program at your facility and not sure where to get it—start at the heart of your aquatics facility pool, the equipment room. Whether it's an old pump or motor that needs to be replaced, or the many lights you find in a pool, spa or water feature, there are savings to be obtained—savings would continue annually because these new energy-saving products will last much longer than standard products. Just ask yourself a popular question when looking into changing to energy-efficient products, "What's the cost of doing nothing?" Think of that answer while counting up the savings in your head, and using these cost calculators to assist with the tremendous savings potential that is out there for your aquatics facility or commercial body of water.

Mike Fowler is the commercial marketing and sales manager for Pentair Commercial Aquatics in Sanford, N.C. He has been with Pentair since 1992, starting his career in the technical services department at Purex Pool Products. Fowler has held many managerial roles within the company, including marketing, customer management, accounting and products. For more information, visit