Crook County spans areas of rich history, beautiful nature and active communities. In 1983, the county created Crook County Parks and Recreation District to build a connection to the surrounding nature by making it accessible to all. Throughout the years, the district has demonstrated a strong commitment to sustainability through the community’s drive to maintain, upgrade and expand park sites. One of the highest-valued facilities in Crook County Parks and Recreation District is the outdoor public pool.
Built over 60 years ago, the public pool has been a hub for social events, safety lessons and youth sports during the summer months. Serving around 6,000 people a year, the pool is a large part of the community meaning it requires consistent maintenance to stay open. “We have a budget that we want to stay under and with so many maintenance costs, we try to save money wherever we can. Even if that means finding creative ways to maintain the facility,” said Larry Penington, parks manager of Crook County Parks and Recreation District.
This includes stretching equipment lifespans for longer usage to evaluating the park’s facilities to look for cost savings. “We try to identify opportunities to improve energy efficiency since there are a lot of upgrades needed,” said Penington. One of the needed upgrades was an outdoor pool cover that would help decrease the energy bill by regulating water temperature.
After speaking with an Energy Trust of Oregon energy advisor at the Special Districts Association of Oregon (SDAO) conference in Salem, Crook County Parks and Recreation Department felt confident that Energy Trust could help save them money on a new outdoor pool cover. In May before the pool opened for the summer, the department replaced the outdoor pool cover and received $7,500 in cash incentives, which covered nearly 80% of the upgrade cost.
While saving the district money on the upfront cost of the new pool cover, the pool cover also unexpectedly saved the summer pool season.
Before the summer opening, the water heater broke leaving the pool without a heat source and relying only on the pool cover to maintain water temperature.
“I think that (pool cover) saved us because we were running those tarps at night, and it kept us open. If we hadn’t put the pool cover on, I think we would have had to close. During summer we had some nights that it was 56 degrees, and the pool would have been heating all night long, and in a month would have doubled the energy bill.” – Larry Penington, parks manager of Crook County Parks and Recreation District
The better-performing, more energy-efficient pool cover provided the essential temperature regulation to keep the pool open and increase energy savings. The cover is estimated to save the department $12,000 in annual bill savings.
Improving energy efficiency can help organizations save money at every stage of the upgrading process, from purchasing equipment to saving on energy bills for years to come. As an organization funded by public donations and taxes, Crook County Parks and Recreation District plans to keep investing in energy efficient equipment to help reduce operating costs and improve the quality of service they are providing their community. “As we work on our pool in the future, we will continue to look at energy efficiency in any way we can,” said Steve Waring, executive director, of Crook County Parks and Recreation District.
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