As introduction to this discussion let it be said that the goal is the cause of water conservation.
Every year swimming pools are wasting billions of gallons of water that can be saved. In areas suffering from water shortages, "It takes only 200 pools using covers to save an entire 3.5 million gallon tank of city drinking water." It's well known that pool bubble covers are inexpensive and pay for themselves by lowering your water bill and chemical costs, so why aren't more pools using pool covers?
Water Loss Calculation without Pool Covers
Let's calculate the number of wasted tanks of drinking water through evaporation by pools.
Sacramento: Using an average evaporation rate of 17,500 gallons/pool annually, it takes only 200 pools to waste an entire city tank of water. If Sacramento has over 50,000 pools, then Sacramento alone wastes 250 tanks of city water every year (or) 2,125,000,000 (that's BILLION) gallons of water every year! What's that make you think about when they start rationing water and your lawn's going brown, while your bill's going up? The 17,500 gallon/annual evaporation figure is probably conservative (other reports site 1.5"/week). In Australia one study by Sealed Air Corporation states over 86,000 liters per year, or over 22,700 gallons annually evaporates from the pool. In Las Vegas, the average is 100 inches per year, yet all evaporation rates vary depending on a number of conditions.
Nationwide: If the nation has around 8.5 million inground swimming pools, then nationally we waste 42,500 tanks of water every year. This amounts to 42,500 (tanks) x 3,500,000 (gals) = 148,750,000,000 gallons of water annually in the US alone. Again, that's BILLIONS! Add an additional 30% for aboveground pools to approximate another 45 billion gallons of water evaporation, and we are looking at almost 200 billions gallons of water wasted annually in the U.S. alone. Now let's slice that figure in half to account for the many pools that are not evaporating year round due to ice or rainfall and we still have 100 billion gallons of water that could be saved. Aside from the water conservation issue, think about the cost of energy used to process and create that amount of drinking water.
Worldwide: Think worldwide and one doesn't have to ask if this is an issue that is rife to be addressed with a sense of urgency by all parties involved.
Improving Industry Distribution of Pool Covers
One of the greatest barriers to use of the inexpensive pool covers is that most pools are odd shapes and cannot use a deck reel, so how does one adapt the rectangular full size covers to these odd shape pools, and then how does one handle the cover if a deck reel is out of the question?
The best way is to split the cover and fit the sections to the pool like pieces of a puzzle. Pool shops are already telling customers to do this for say L-Shape pools, and the smaller sections are at least easier to work with by hand. Because half covers (or cover sections) can work for odd-shaped pools that can't use a deck reel, maybe there's a better more efficient way to distribute these half covers because odd-shape pools comprise around 70% of the pools out there that so far are for the most part going without a choice.
Currently, distribution of full pool covers is a nightmare for distributors and retailers because full cover distribution requires a multitude of covers sizes to support the many different size pools. But half covers may just revolutionize the way covers are distributed, lowering the cost for everyone and making stock on hand a top priority to solve the problem with special ordering or waiting for a cover to come in stock. Moreover, water conservation can now be achieved on a larger scale using pool covers.
Example of Four Sizes: Employing the strategy to provide half pool covers can solve this problem to support most typical backyard pools. By shifting to the Half Cover Distribution Model (HCDM), half covers in say 4 sizes rather than +50 (four squares of 14,16,18,20ft) can be mixed and matched to each half of the pool for most pools up to 20x40ft. Furthermore, online internet retailers can ship the lighter more compact half cover sizes, avoiding dreaded overcharges due to weight, making shipping costs more predicable and controllable.
Out of the Warehouse and Into the Stores: For retail stores, by reducing pool cover stock sizes from the multitude of covers sizes (that must be special ordered from the warehouse and delivered next day or longer if on back order) to just four sizes, covers can easily be stocked right at the store. With the new half cover distribution model, retailers can now have "stock on hand" for immediate purchase. Having stock on hand will substantially increase cover sales helping people more than ever not only have a warm pool, but most importantly conserve water and chemicals to help our environment.
Water Conservation Programs & Rebates
Current water shortages in parts of the nation, especially as mentioned in western U.S. areas like Las Vegas, are requiring communities to be on year round water restrictions and may potentially drive the increased demand and expansion of the pool cover market. Programs such as Water Smart in the Las Vegas area, and Water Sense sponsored by the EPA are dedicated to conservation. Additional programs by agencies offer pool cover rebates at participating dealers. To do it's part in the fight for water conservation nationwide, the half pool cover distribution model will greatly assist in supplying stores everywhere with just-in-time stock on hand. In this way over time we will be helping to save billions of gallons of wasted water nationwide, by facilitating the distribution of pool covers in a much needed and better way. Again, only 200 pools using a cover can save an entire city tank of water because a pool left unchecked for a year can completely evaporate... and that's a lot of wasted water!
Conservation is the Goal
In summary, enabling more pools to use covers and improving pool cover distribution using the HCDM is one way to increase the use of pool covers, and in turn conserve water to support the cause of many water starved communities (such as Las Vegas, Australia, and others) that are water rationing and promoting pool covers through rebates so consumers will do the right thing and cover their pools. Efforts to change the way pools are covered can revolutionize the distribution and stocking of pool covers, leading the industry to change it's distribution model which will dramatically conserve precious water. In the half cover distribution world, retailers and wholesalers will never be out of stock utilizing the revolutionary "just in time" stock on hand distribution model. Retail stores will more than ever have an incentive and the ability to stock covers at the store for immediate sale, rather than special order from the warehouse requiring customers to come back for pickup, and wholesalers will move more inventory out of the warehouse and into stores. The warehouse will benefit because they can enjoy the same profit margins, but move stock immediately out to retailers rather than waiting for truckload deliveries in their space constrained warehouses. And the customer will be able to get what they want, when they want it so that everybody wins in the never ending fight for water conservation.
David Hoff is Inventor CEO of Solar Factory Pool Products, Inc