Schools get more splash with solar heating


Solar heating system for a school pool.

Sixteen schools are getting much better value from their swimming pools after installing an efficient solar heating system.

The schools funded the upgrade through an interest-free Crown loan from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), a government agency encouraging energy efficiency and carbon reduction across New Zealand. One focus area is the public sector, including schools.

To run a solar pool heating system, black plastic solar panels are usually put on a nearby roof, such as a changing shed. High volumes of pool water are pumped through the panels and back into the pool, so the pool temperature gradually rises to a comfortable 28 degrees.

The system automatically switches off when the pool reaches 30 degrees. Using a pool cover overnight makes the system even more efficient, and reduces maintenance and chemical use.

Hamilton’s Peachgrove Intermediate installed a system in its 25m pool five years ago and hasn’t looked back. Assistant Principal Wayne Bromell says the pool is used six months a year – twice as long as before – and they have no issues with kids not wanting to swim because the water’s too cold. The asset is now well used by children learning water survival skills, recreational swimmers at lunchtime, and after hours by a local swim club three times a week.

Time spent in the pool has also rocketed up at Māngere East Primary School, which installed a solar heating system last year.  "Before that, the younger children wanted to get out after 10 minutes,” says Principal Stephanie Anich. “It’s great to see the children have a swim and enjoy the water rather than just a dip in and out.” The children swim throughout terms 1 and 4. Running the system through the winter months stops the water turning green.

EECA Crown loans are a low cost, interest free way to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for publicly funded organisations such as schools.

Find out more on our Funding & Support page  (EECA Business website).