Swimming pool covers are a necessary accessory for pools because they provide primarily two essential functions. First, they can reduce your pool’s maintenance cost, and second, a safety cover, in particular, can prevent pool related accidents. The four main types of pool covers are Solar Covers, Winter Covers, Leaf Nets, and Safety Covers. Understanding the basic purpose of each type should help you decide which is best for your backyard pool. Solar covers, also known as solar blankets, significantly reduce the amount of energy you use as well as reducing the amount of water that evaporates from your pool. Solar covers raise your pool’s water temperature by an average of ten degrees by absorbing sunlight during the day and keeping that heat in the pool at night. Additionally, a solar cover will reduce your water and chemical evaporation by up to 70 percent which can save many, many gallons of water each month. If you use a heater, the heat retained by a solar cover helps to reduce your heating costs which can mean a savings of up to 90 percent in the summertime. Other advantages of solar covers are that they help keep debris out of your pool, and you will find that you need to run your filter pump less often. Winter pool covers are used mainly to protect the pool from winter weather and to keep limbs, leaves, dirt, and other debris from falling into the pool. For an in ground pool, a winter cover is held in place with water bags placed around the edge inside sleeves which are attached to the cover. An above ground pool uses the same type of winter cover, but it is held in place by a combination winch and cable assembly that runs through grommets in the cover. Inflatable air pillows rest on the water under the winter cover to make stick and leaf removal easier, and they also help water to run off the cover. Additionally, a winter cover blocks sunlight to inhibit algae growth. A winter cover is an important part of winterizing your pool, and it makes opening your pool in the spring much easier and less expensive. So what does a leaf net do? Leaf nets are lightweight covers made of an open weave material that fit over your winter cover or solar cover and help you avoid accumulations of wet, heavy, saturated leaves and twigs on top. Leaf nets ensure a quicker removal of leaves and help prolong the life of your winter or solar cover. They can be used in any season and are a big help if your pool is located in an area surrounded by trees. The open weave allows water to pass through the net, but it will block twigs and trash. Leaf nets help make it easier to remove the pool cover underneath. Safety covers are the fourth type of swimming pool cover, and they are probably the most expensive. Safety covers, like the other types, are important for maintenance, but they are also the only pool covers that can prevent drowning and submersion accidents. All safety covers must meet the requirements in the ASTM standard F1346-91 (1996), which means a cover must be able to support much more than the weight of a small child or animal should they walk out onto the cover. Other types of pool covers cannot do this. A proper safety cover is securely anchored into the deck area surrounding the pool and lies flat so there are no gaps between the pool and the cover that could allow a child to get under the cover and into the water. They give the pool owner peace of mind, especially if children or pets play near the pool area. Determining which type of pool cover is right for your swimming pool depends only on your particular situation, but covering your pool with some type of pool cover is a necessary step in properly maintaining it. A covered pool will experience less freezing in the winter than an uncovered one, a covered pool will cost less to open up in the spring time, and a covered pool will be much easier to clean and maintain throughout the swimming season.