Saving energy helps pool's brand
Swimming pool operator Northern Arena says it has enhanced its brand through energy saving measures that both save it money and reduce carbon emissions.
Northern Arena now heats its pools with new generation heat pumps that run on electricity rather than gas. This not only solved a problem of ensuring reliable, right-temperature water for its swimmers, but synched with the company’s vision to be environmentally-friendly.
“From an environmental perspective, the new heat pumps have been huge,” says Head of Swim School Dean Kent, a three-time Olympic swimmer. The technology makes the most of New Zealand’s clean electricity, of which 80% comes from renewable sources, allowing the pool to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.
A gas boiler has been partially replaced by the heat pumps. “It’s important that our customers know we care,” says Mr Kent.
Three months after the new heat pumps started operation the company is on track to cut its energy bill by a third, or over $60,000 a year, while maintenance costs have also dropped steeply. Gas is still used to heat the arena air and the showers, but usage has dropped by half – over 1.2GWhs on an annual basis, reducing carbon emissions by 240 tonnes.
Northern received support from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) under its Technology Demonstration programme. EECA supports energy efficiency or renewable energy technology that has yet to be widely adopted in New Zealand.
EECA funding for both capital and showcasing the technology can cover up to 40% of the project costs to a maximum of $100,000. An important aspect of this support is that there is potential for others to take up the technology.
Mr Kent says other pool operators using fossil fuelled boilers would be wise to have a serious look at the technology, which was designed and developed by Hot Water Heat Pumps Limited of Auckland.
“The pay-off period is so fast. From all around, it’s a no-brainer if you look at the amount of draw on the power grid, let alone fossil fuels being reduced. The sooner you do it the better.”
EECA Project Manager, Dinesh Chand noted a number of large pool operators struck problems with older style heat pump systems and have reverted to using gas heating. But he said new generation heat pumps targeted specifically to the pool water temperatures had overcome problems, and are much cheaper than gas to run because their energy output was four times that of gas and they had a lower carbon emissions footprint.