The Ann Arbor school system is about to become a leader in efficient swimming pools. Many people don’t realize just how much of a drag on the environment pools really are – they constantly need to be refilled, and require a substantial amount of energy for temperature maintenance. Of course, any pool owner already knows this; keeping a pool is not just costly in terms of energy, owners pour so much money into them, they often end up just leaving them empty when it stops being worth the investment.

Johnson Controls Inc., an international energy efficiency company based in Milwaukee, has won a contract to install innovative liquid pool covers in one high school and five middle schools in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The energy-efficient system pumps an isopropyl alcohol product, with a consistency comparable to vegetable oil, into the pools. It then creates a thin coating over the surface, conserving water and keeping the temperature in check. The biodegradable alcohol product and the water do not mix, and the cover does not even need to be removed from the pool when it’s in use – it simply “breaks apart” when the water is disturbed and then reforms when the water is calm again.

The company will be paid by the district, which set aside almost $8 million for energy-saving projects, including upgrading air conditioning, hot water pumps, and lights. Johnson Controls has guaranteed the school district an annual savings of $699,359 and a one-time savings of up to $400,000 through the use of the pool covers. The company estimates the liquid pool covers can save customers up to 40 percent on heating costs.

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