Older billiard players in particular don’t know any better: the warmer the cloth, the better the balls roll. Raising the temperature under the billiard table to well into the thirties has been the most normal thing for years. With high energy bills causing trouble for clubs and billiard cafes, “the hotter, the better” no longer applies.
To create less friction between the balls and the cloth, it has long been thought that the temperature of the billiards should be a few degrees higher than the ambient temperature. An investigation by the Royal Dutch Billiards Association (KNBB) shows that this can no longer be sustained.
A number of clubs have already had to close their doors. Logically, in the old circumstances a billiard table consumed as much as a three-person household. KNBB chairman Willem La Riviere: “Something has to change drastically. I recently saw a report about a club in Kralingen. There they had raised the temperature of the billiards to 45 degrees. I didn’t know what I was hearing.”
“High temperature of the billiards is only important for the real top”
But there are also clubs that do it well, such as billiards club Velsen and billiards center Castricum. La Riviere specifically mentions ‘Onder Ons’ in Beverwijk as an example. Chairman Pierre de Boer of ‘Onder Ons’ must honestly admit that a large number of his eighty-member billiards association sometimes complains about the low temperatures of the billiards.
“It is the reflex of every billiard player to feel how warm the sheet is,” says De Boer. Forced by circumstances, they have been playing on colder billiards for some time. That has no influence on the quality of the game of the Onder Ons billiard players. De Boer: “It is mainly between the ears. I think that the high temperature is only important for the real toppers.”
As far as he is concerned, the heaters under the tables only serve to remove the moisture from the billiards, although that necessity has also diminished since the woolen sheets have been replaced by synthetic ones.
“We have almost reached the zero-energy level”
‘Onder Ons’ is not only resisting the energy crisis by turning down the stoves under the billiards, although that does contribute to an important part. The club has been cutting energy costs drastically for about ten years now. As harsh as it is, the fire that reduced the clubhouse to ashes in 2009 was the starting signal for this. More than a hundred solar panels were installed at the much more sustainable billiard center that was built on the same spot at the Adrichem sports park.
In combination with the timer that only heats the billiards when there is a game and therefore no longer blaring all day, the club has been able to significantly reduce the energy costs of 1,500 euros per month. De Boer: “We operate almost energy neutrally. The selective heating alone saves us 38 euros per day. This allows us, for example, to keep reasonable control of the prices of the drinks. But we are not there yet. Coincidentally, we will talk tomorrow with the members about what else we can do. Fortunately, everyone sees the need.”