Gas/Propane vs Heat Pump vs Solar?

pool-heaters-9 Are you looking for a way to utilize your swimming pool for as much of the year as possible?  Today  we’re going to discuss the benefits of heating your pool, different heating options, and how much  each option costs initially and on a monthly basis.

Without a pool heater your swim season may only last three or four months, while the addition of a  heater will typically extend your swim season about two months depending on location and climate.   We all know how much kids enjoy the swimming pool and closing time can be kind of a bummer  but with a pool heater you and your family can maximize the fun.

There are three main types of pool heaters:

  • Solar
  • Heat Pump (electric)
  • Gas
  • Solar Pool Heaters are very efficient in southern climates year-round and extends swim time in northern climates. By using the sun’s energy the existing pool pump will circulate the water through the heater which will be typically located on the rooftop or on a frame constructed in the yard.  The down Solar heating requires a system equal to 50%-100% of the pool’s surface. While solar energy may be free, the pool pump must be running for the solar heater to properly operate which can increase your electric bill.
  • Electric Heat Pump amazingly, the electric heat pump is actually a form of solar energy. How is that possible?  Well the sun warms the air and that heat is pulled from the air.  This warm air is pulled in, enhanced, and transferred into the water, requiring temperatures of approximately 55+ to properly function.
  • Gas Pool Heaters use either propane or natural gas. Operating independently of outdoor temperature conditions, gas pool heaters burn the fuel within a combustion chamber all while your pool water runs through copper coils to then return to the pool warm.

Electric Heat Pumps are highly efficient costing owners on average $50-100 per month. We find that about 19 of 20 of our customers who install heaters choose heat pumps simply because of their dependability and low operating cost.  Electric Heat Pumps can extend the average pool use by 2-3 months depending on location/climate.  Going back to how a heat pump works will determine how long it will extend pool use per year according to location. Outside temperatures need to be around 55+ degrees so in an area such as Texas the heat pump will efficiently keep temperatures regulated almost the entire year.

So if you’re interested in heating your pool or just considering options for your future pool here are the three options and why electric heat pumps are a known favorite among a majority of our customers, plus who doesn’t enjoy saving a little cash?

Protect Your Pool from Freeze Damage

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Inground Swimming Pools
If your area is subject to frequent hard freezes…make sure the pool is clean and clear prior to closing.
Properly balance pool water. Also add shock treatment (chlorinated or non-chlorinated).

Lower the water level to below the skimmer.

Clear pipes and equipment of water using a blower or compressor and plug the pipes at the pool.

Add swimming pool antifreeze to the lines to prevent freezing.

Place a Gizzmo* (or similar device) in the skimmer to seal it and absorb pressure from ice. Ask your local Pool Retailer for more details on the Gizzmo for your skimmer.

Install your safety cover or winter tarp cover using water tubes to secure.

In milder climates…
Make sure that the pump is running during periods of below freezing temperatures.

Keep the water properly balanced and sanitized throughout the off-season months.

Some pool owners also choose to install a Winter Cover or Safety Cover.

Pool Fact: Pumps should be kept running during freezing temperatures or completely drained during the winter to avoid a risk of damage to the pump, filter, heater, pipes, and any other in-line equipment.

Above Ground Swimming Pools
Properly balance pool water. Also add shock treatment (chlorinated or non-chlorinated).

When preparing to winterize the pool, do not drain water below the recommended level. NEVER DRAIN POOL COMPLETELY.

Lower the water level to below the skimmer opening and plug return(s) in the pool. Install the skimmer faceplate cover.

Clear pipes and equipment of water and insulate them. Remove and store your pump.

Install the air pillow and then the pool cover.

Store your pump, hoses, and other in-line equipment that can be removed.

Common reasons why above ground pool walls could collapse or fail:
The skimmer catches water which then freezes, causing the skimmer to become too heavy for the wall to support. This eventually causes the wall(s) to collapse.

An ice expansion pushes out against the walls, causing the walls to buckle under the immense pressure and weight of the ice.

Spa Fact: Spas are designed to run and be enjoyed throughout the winter months. However, it is recommended that you lower the water temperature when the spa is not in use.

Recommended Products:
Freezing can create costly damages to your swimming pool or spa. The best way to protect your pool or spa from freeze damage is to prevent it from happening. Properly winterizing your pool and following these tips can prevent freeze damage from destroying your backyard paradise. We recommend the following products to aid you in your freeze damage prevention.

Winterizing Kits for correct chemical balance throughout the winter months and protection of all non-mechanical elements of your swimming pool.

Blowers clear pipes and equipment of water prior to being plugged and insulated to protect them from the elements.

Skimmer Faceplate Covers prevent your skimmer from retaining water which can freeze and possibly damage the pool wall.

Gizzmos are designed for inground skimmer ice expansion protection.

Water Tubes and Air Pillows are used under winter covers for ice expansion prevention.

Balancing and Shock Chemicals or Anti-Freeze

Blower/Compressor

Winter Plugs

Let’s Have a Pool Party!

pool-party-iOK, it’s party time. The most fun you could ever have around your pool is when you have guests and are entertaining.  It is the perfect time to show off your pool  from Pools by Design your Woodlands Pool Builder . The key here is preparation.  Invitations, menus, helpers, pool, and yard will all need to be taken care of in advance.  The more you do ahead of time, the more time you will have to enjoy the party.  Start about a month before the party. Make a list of who you want to come. We can’t give any advice here.  But too many people would not only be unsafe, but we want enough room for eating, swimming, and just lying around.

So, here are a few tips for the pool party, and believe me, we’ve been to hundreds.

1)   Invites. Get something fun. Hand made invitations are cool, and personal. Another quicker, cheaper option is using evite.com to send out invitations. *** Remind everyone to bring a towel and swimming suite.

2)   Recruit. Get some help. The best parties were planned with several people. Get some helpers. Johnny does the food, Karin gets the liquor, and Steve gets the ice. And be sure to get a name or two for clean up. The end of the night is always the hardest to recruit help, so ask for clean up help before the party. You don’t need to clean the whole yard, but you will need to secure the trash, leftover food and such.

3)   Food. Decisions, decisions. You could go all out, roast a pig, smoked chicken. Or, keep it simple. Finger sandwiches, fruit bowl, or just burgers and dogs. The more “self serve food” you offer, the more time you have for fun. But, remember, the first thing people usually remember about a party, is the food. Give your guests something to talk about and remember. It’s not too hard to do!

4)   Drinks. You can’t have a good pool party without good beverages. But, an open bar can mean a disaster. If everyone is allowed to mix their own beverages, there is always someone who can ruin it for the rest of the guests. If alcohol is served, serve responsible, or serve beer and wine in moderation. Remember, Alcohol use is involved in about 35% to 50% of adolescent and adult deaths associated with water recreation. And please don’t let guests who drink, drive. Call your local cab company in advance and set up an account for the evening.

5)  Safety. This one is easy. Call your local swimming pool management company, and hire a lifeguard or two for the event. It’s not expensive, and well worth it. If someone has had too much to drink, keep them away from the pool. Things we all take for granted like diving boards, slides and just jumping off the side of the pool, can pose a threat to those impaired, and everyone else trying to have a good time. Keep safety equipment handy, and ALWAYS keep a working phone dry, and near the pool.

6)   The Pool.  A week or so before the party, test everything pool related. (The lights, the heater, and the fountains) Make sure any electrical outlets that will be used are grounded. Trip hazards, excess patio and lawn furniture should be stored, or moved away from the pool deck, to allow easy access to the pool. Add a clarifier to the pool several days before the party. Small unfiltered particles are very easy to see at night with the pool light on, so take that extra step to get your pool as clear as possible. And make sure the pH and chlorine are adjusted. A chlorine residual of 3.0 is perfect.   The morning of the party, brush the pool and then vacuum an hour later. Remove your automatic pool cleaner and store it away for the party. Polaris parts are not cheap!

7)   The Party!  The moment we’ve all been waiting forParty time!  Got enough Tiki torch fuel? Ice? Soda? Make that last minute run to the store and you should be set. With proper preparation, all of the chores are done, and it’s time to party. So, fire up the grill, and ice down the punch. It’s your turn to relax.

Give Your Swimming Pool a Resort Style make over

 

 

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Imagine walking out your back door into a luxurious outdoor sanctuary that emulates a contemporary 5-star resort too good to be true? It’s all within reach, with decorative upgrades to transform your pool into a stunning resort-style retreat.

Lighting Effects

Make your pool come alive at night and create ambiance by installing dramatic pool lighting. Try incandescent lights for a soft yellow glow or colored LED lights for energy-efficient lighting. DMX-controlled light systems with colorful fiber-optic lighting can also create a dynamic light show in your backyard.

Fire Features

Use the fireplace to create a cozy and intimate space for an evening outdoor dinner or late-night socializing, a time when the pool shifts into the aesthetic backdrop. A fire feature or fireplace creates resort-like style and beautiful soft lighting.

Beach Entry

Consider transforming one end of your pool into a beach / lagoon pool design. You can use stone, glass or ceramic tile or decorative concrete to build a pool wading ledge. Add and rock accents or waterfalls, and your backyard will feel more like an exotic escape in the tropics.

Outdoor Living Room

Every luxury resort provides lush lounging for world-class sun bathing and relaxation. Put some lounge chairs, an outdoor coffee table or even a cabana can create an upscale social space in your backyard.

Swim-Up Table

Install a table with surround seating and an umbrella where guests can escape the sun and grab a drink without getting out of the pool. Use travertine pavers and glass tile mosaics for a contemporary look with a touch of simplicity.

The Supreme Sales Advantage of a Family Business Is the Family Story

should i build a poolBy Daphne Mallory

Selling your products or services is the lifeblood of any business. The biggest mistake I made in the startup phase of my family business was not making the investment to get trained to sell. I hid in my home office following an online marketing plan. After failing hard, I got the message. I love selling now. I like making money. Sales is my opportunity to share solutions that will make a difference in peoples’ lives. When I solve problems, I get paid.

family business has an opportunity to employ sales strategies in a way that’s different from other entrepreneurs. The talents and skills of everyone working together as well as your family story can be your competitive advantage. Here how to sell together:

Paint a family portrait

Jane Grote Abell, chairwoman of Donato’s Pizza, started her story on an episode of Undercover Boss episode: “I think the main difference between Donato’s and other pizza companies is that we’re a family.”

She went on to tell the story of how her dad, at age 18 bought, a pizza place with $1,300.  She shared how her dad chose the name Donato’s because it means “to give a good thing.” Her grandfather wanted him to choose the name Grody. Abell explained that her dad went with his gut, and now the name Donato’s translates into how she operates all areas of the family business today.

That story has stayed with me. If I am ever in a city with Donato’s, I will buy pizza there and not from another chain.

Tell people how did you family business started. Describe for them a time when you worked alongside your family through difficult personal or business circumstances. The power of a well-told story will take you from obscurity to preeminence in your area. Prospects will remember you and forget your competition.

Sell like a politician

You routinely see the spouses of politicians at fundraisers, even though the “other half” is not running for office. Why? Many voters believe they can know and trust a candidate by getting to know their spouse. The same is true in family business, if you’re married. Your partner can make or break you.

I asked a successful family business owner about this. His business involves selling contracts internationally, so he makes trips overseas at least four months out of the year. He does not make a trip without his wife. He is convinced that she is the closer. Clients believe that he is honest because she comes across as sincere. Her official role in the family business is human resources, but she transforms into a salesperson when meeting with prospects.

Make sure that every family member who interacts with the public on behalf of your business knows how to sell through words and actions. Like any political family, you risk destroying your credibility because all eyes are watching.

Sell through service

It takes less effort and money to sell to an existing customer than it does to find new customers. Many entrepreneurs don’t land repeat business because they don’t deliver quality services. Someone drops the ball and the customer walks away with a negative experience. Your family business can stand out of from the crowd in this one area alone.

Work together as a well oiled machine and make it your mission to handle each customer as though they are a member of your family. Divide the work load among each member who is competent and willing to deliver services.

I recently experienced this at a family auto run dealership in Twin Falls, Idaho. The dad dealt with my paperwork, his son took me for a test and, when I returned, another family member parked the car. I watched him go on to clean and prep another car. The experience was endearing to me, a mom of four. It made an impact on my purchase decision. I did not go to a larger dealership located less than a mile because of it.

Doubling your sales can be simple but it does take hard work. Hone your family story, share it with everyone you come in contact with and deliver quality services together. There is strength in numbers. Don’t hide your family, leverage it in the sales process.

By Daphne Mallory