Nobody wants to think about splashing around in a green pool — ew, algae! But that’s not the kind of green we’re talking about here. Instead, green means eco-friendly and energy efficient. And that’s music to most homeowners’ ears when it comes to ongoing costs of maintaining a swimming pool. Be sure to ask your pool company about the following options if you’d like to save the planet and your wallet:
Solar covers come with many benefits, including minimizing evaporation, keeping out debris, and reducing chemical consumption. But they also help heat your pool water. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, solar pool covers can reduce pool heating costs by 50% to 70% and reduce the amount of water that needs to be added to a pool by 30% to 50%. Furthermore, they can reduce the pool’s chemical use by 35% to 60%.
If you’re building a new pool, talk with your pool company about the best location in your backyard for it. Keep in mind the path of the sun changes by season. The more sun it receives, the warmer it will stay; the more shade it receives, the cooler it will be. Shade often comes from nearby trees, which will shed debris into your pool and require more frequent cleanings certain times of the year.
If your pump has seen better days, now is the right time to ask your pool company to recommend an energy-efficient pump that is rated for the size of your pool (hint: you want the smallest size pump you can get away with for your pool). Some states also offer homeowners rebates and tax incentives for purchasing energy-efficient pool appliances. Combining a new, energy-efficient pump with variable speed operation can save pool owners as much as 75% of their original pumping bill.
If you’ve decided to install a heater to extend your pool season, there are three options to discuss with your pool company to determine which best meets your needs: solar, gas and heat pump. Solar typically lasts longer than gas and heat pump pool heaters but will cost more upfront. Gas is most efficient when heating a pool for short periods of time and can maintain your desired temperature regardless of the weather. Heat pumps use electricity to capture heat and move it around, but do not actually generate heat. They often cost more than gas, but typically last longer and have lower annual operating costs. Heat pumps and solar will not offer year round swimming but rather extend the swim season.
Automatic timers, which your pool company can install, can help ensure your pumps and heaters are running efficiently without requiring you to spend all day turning on and off equipment. And if your electric company offers savings for off-peak-hours usage, set the timer to run during that time period for additional savings.
Comfortable pool water temperatures typically range from 78°F to 82°F. Keeping in mind that the energy consumption for each degree rise in temperature will cost 10% to 30% more in energy costs will help you decide where you want that thermometer to read. If you won’t be using the pool for several days or longer, be sure to turn the temperature down or the heater the heater off entirely — it’s a myth that it takes more energy to heat a pool back up than you save by lowering the temperature or turning off the heater.