IRVINE, CA — Owners of larger commercial pools have a common challenge: the cost of heating large amounts of water through all four seasons. The costs include not only the large amount of natural gas required but also the cost of maintaining heating equipment that is under heavy use.

Solar heating systems can reduce pool costs, according to Suntrek Industries, Irvine, CA, which manufactures and distributes solar pool heating collectors. However, the installation cost of these systems is often high. That's why Suntrek is offering owners of commercial pools, including those at fitness facilities, a power purchase agreement that it says will reduce their costs while helping the environment.

Suntrek prepares an analysis showing how much gas usage can be offset by solar energy and then performs a feasibility analysis that shows how much money the pool operator would save over the life of the program. Once the pool operator accepts the proposal and signs the agreement, the solar system can be installed.

Suntrek owns and maintains the solar heating system for 15 years. The pool owner pays each month for the solar energy used to heat the pool, similar to paying for natural gas or electricity.

The company guarantees that pool owners will pay less for solar over the life of the program than they would for gas or electricity.

“There are thousands of large pools that have to operate year-round,” says Roy Heine, CEO of Suntrek. “We have talked to the operators of these pools, and many of them don't have the budget to install a system. But if they can get a system installed at no initial cost, save money on their energy charges, and reduce the wear and tear on their traditional heating systems, it becomes a no-brainer.”