Swimming pool energy saving tips
  • Category:
    Home Energy Savings
  • Published:
    June 16, 2016
  • Updated:
    May 4, 2021

Swimming Pool Energy Saving Tips

When it’s summertime and the sun is shining, it’s hard to beat the feeling of going for a swim. But even though swimming pools are delightful in hot weather, they can also increase your energy expenses.

What fun is going for a dip in the backyard if all you can think about is the cost? Here, we’ve put together a list of swimming pool energy savings tips — that way you can enjoy yourself without having to worry about a dramatic spike in your monthly energy bill.

7 ways to reduce your pool’s energy usage

Between purchasing chemicals and replacing parts, the costs of owning a swimming pool can quickly add up. However, there are some ways you can reduce your pool’s energy usage and limit your overall operating expenses.

1. Use a pool cover when your pool is not in use

Pool covers are extremely useful for limiting how much electricity your pool uses. They help to retain the heat that’s created by your pool heater, as well as prevent evaporation, which helps to reduce your home’s water usage in the summer. Without a pool cover, your heater will have to work overtime in order to keep your pool warm, meaning it will use more energy in the process. Additionally, a white pool cover is a cost-friendly and energy-efficient way to help keep your pool from overheating in particularly hot climates.

There are several types of pool covers to choose from. Solar covers are one of the more common (and cost-effective) choices. Vinyl and insulated vinyl covers offer more durability, though at a higher price point. But no matter which you use, covering your pool when it isn’t in use could reduce your pool heating expenses by as much as 50%-70%.

2. Purchase a smaller, more efficient pump

If you’re trying to figure out how much a pool costs per month in electricity, don’t forget to factor in the pump. The larger your pool pump is, the more energy it’s going to consume. That’s why it’s important to get the smallest pump that will work for your pool’s size.

In general, a pump with 0.75 horsepower or less will be sufficient for most residential pools. But there’s a chance you may need a more powerful one, depending on your pool’s dimensions. Ask your pool supplier for a design chart to help you calculate the pool pump energy usage necessary for the job.

If your pool pump is causing a high electric bill, you can also consider switching to a more energy-efficient model. If you do this, in addition to running your pump less frequently, Energy.gov suggests that you could save as much as 75% of your original pump bill, as outlined in the chart below:

Energy-efficient pool pumps

Other ways to save energy with your pool pump

Besides making sure you have an appropriately sized pool pump, there are some other things you can do to make your pump operate more efficiently and cost-effectively:

  • Reduce filtration time to six hours daily.
  • Install a timer to help control your pool pump’s cycling.
  • Clean your intake grates regularly.
  • Decrease your pool circulation system’s hydraulic resistance.
  • Use a skimmer to remove any debris that appears when the water isn’t being circulated.

3. Lower your pool’s temperature

The average pool’s temperature falls between 78 degrees and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it’s best to keep your pool closer to 78 degrees whenever possible. This is because raising your pool’s temperature by just one degree Fahrenheit can increase your energy costs by 10%-30%, depending on your location. To conserve energy, you can lower the temperature further or even shut off your heater if you plan on being away for an extended period of time.

In warmer climates, you may have the opposite challenge of keeping your water from getting too hot. Tips for lowering your pool’s temperature include:

  • Keep your pool as shaded as possible.
  • Avoid running your pool filter during the day.
  • Drain and refill some or all of your pool’s water.
  • Invest in a pool chiller or evaporative cooler.
  • Use solar panels at night to leverage nocturnal cooling.
  • Install a fountain or other water features.

4. Choose an energy-efficient heater

One of the most expensive pool energy costs stems from keeping the water at your desired temperature. Analyzing energy-efficient pool heaters, then, is among the most important swimming pool energy savings tips. But what exactly are your pool heating options? And which will be best at conserving energy?

Gas vs. electric pool heaters

Gas-fired pool heaters remain the most popular pool heaters, according to Energy.gov. As their name suggests, these heaters use natural gas or propane to help warm the water. In contrast, heat pump, or electric, pool heaters don’t generate heat; they simply capture it and move it from one place to another using electricity.

Gas vs. electric pool heater

Gas pool heaters heat pools quickly and are most efficient if used infrequently or for short periods of time. If the pool is used every day, however, an electric pool heater might make the most sense. Electric heat pump pool heaters initially cost more than gas heaters. However, they have lower annual operating costs because of their higher efficiencies. Assuming they are properly maintained, they typically last longer as well. It’s worth noting, though, that electric heaters may not work as well in temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, as opposed to gas heaters that work in any weather.

Solar vs. gas pool heaters

Solar swimming pool heaters are a valid alternative to traditional gas heaters, with similar upfront costs and potentially lower operating costs, depending on where you live. Solar pool heaters also tend to last longer than gas models. Installing a solar pool heating system costs $3,000-$4,000, but that can be paid back in fuel savings within 18 months to seven years, depending on local fuel prices.

There are also different types of solar pool heating systems for different situations, which will have an affect on your total costs. For example, unglazed collector systems are cost-effective and suitable for use when outside temperatures are above freezing. Conversely, glazed collector systems cost more to install but capture solar heat more effectively and can be utilized year-round in most climates.

5. Maintain your pool’s filter and cleaning system

A dirty filter will not only be less effective but also cause your cleaning system to work harder and draw more energy than needed. It’s wise to get into the habit of performing routine maintenance tasks on your pool, such as cleaning your filter, backwashing your drain systems and balancing and adding chemicals. This will ensure your system runs at peak performance and reduce your pool energy usage.

6. Upgrade to energy-efficient lighting

Another way you can save energy in the summer is by upgrading to energy-efficient lighting for your pool area. Outdoor solar lights can be a great option: They’re simple to set up and require essentially no maintenance once installed.

That said, different models can require different amounts of sunlight to function. You’ll want to make sure the area around your pool receives enough light to meet your model’s specific light requirements.

7. Invest in automated pool features

There are a variety of outdoor automation ideas that can help lighten your maintenance workload as well as reduce your energy consumption over the summer. For example, you can invest in automatic pool covers that close with the push of a button. You can also set up timers to limit your filtration system’s usage. And robotic pool cleaners help maximize your cleaning efficiency.

How much electricity does a pool use in dollars per year?

The amount of electricity your pool consumes can have a substantial impact on both your average home power usage and expenses. For example, it can cost over $450 to run a single conventional pool pump for a year. And that’s without factoring in the costs of the energy you’ll use to heat your pool’s water.

How much electricity your particular swimming pool uses will depend on a number of factors (see below). But with some basic energy conservation practices in place, you can expect to spend between $110-$349 on powering and maintaining your pool each year.

2020 cost of maintaining a swimming pool

Factors that affect your pool’s energy usage

There are several factors that help to determine your pool’s energy consumption. Some of them may be beyond your control. But with others, there are changes you can make to see improved efficiency and cost savings. The factors include:

  • The size and location of your pool. The larger (and deeper) your pool is, the more energy you’ll consume heating, cleaning and cycling the water. Additionally, outdoor pools are more susceptible to the elements than indoor pools, meaning they’ll generally have higher operating costs.
  • The average air temperature. If you live in an area that frequently experiences hot temperatures, you’ll use less energy heating your pool than someone who lives in a milder climate.
  • The type of pool equipment you use. Using energy-efficient pool equipment, such as solar covers and high-efficiency pool pumps, can limit the amount of energy your pool consumes.
  • Your energy consumption habits. It’s possible that you may have energy-wasting habits that increase your pool’s energy usage, like letting your pool pump run longer than needed.

Keeping your summer electric bill under control

When trying to understand your energy costs, it’s important to know how operating a swimming pool factors in. When the hot weather hits, you should be able to relax and enjoy your investment, not worry about your energy expenses. These pool energy savings tips are a great start to a worry-free summer. And they’re just a few of the ways to save energy in your home!

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Comments ( 8 )

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Lewis - 10/23/2018

Thanks for sharing this informative post, it really helps!! Solar pool cover works the best. It really reduces the use of heater to a great extent.

    Constellation Community Team - 1/23/2019

    Hi Lewis, solar pool covers are a great chance to harness the power of the sun!

Tom Kenyon - 6/23/2016

Thank you for this article. I am often at odds with my wife about heating our pool. We have an electric heat pump and my wife likes to heat the water to 85 degrees. In the summer when the pool heater and pump along with the air conditioner for the house are working at the same time, that electric meter is spinning like a top and the electric company loves us.

Steven Cianfarii - 6/21/2016

Increasing pipe length increases hydraulic resistance.

Steven Cianfarini, P.E.

    Constellation Community Team - 10/11/2016

    Steven, thank you! It’s always a great thing when our experts weigh in. We appreciate the comment!

Carol Nowark - 6/21/2016

Thanks for the great hints. I find using a solar blanket at night helps keep pool water warm so we only have to use
The heater when the season begins.

    Constellation Community Team - 10/11/2016

    That sounds like a great tip! Thanks for doing your part to conserve and sharing with us!

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