Swimming Pools: Pump Woes

Pool Remodeling

Cipriano Landscape Design

Living in the northeast and being a “pool-free” homeowner, I rarely think about the luxury enjoyed by countless homeowners who are pool-endowed, particularly in the South and West. But a recent trip to Arizona made me realize that even the swimming pool—a seemingly earth-friendly body of H2O in oval-, square-, rectangular-, and kidney bean-shaped designs—is still an energy user and, in some instances, abuser.

According to an article in The Arizona Republic, the state legislature recently passed new energy-efficient standards for residential swimming pool pumps and portable electric spas. (California and many other states have passed similar regulations.) While it doesn’t affect pumps currently in use, it does prohibit the installation of single-speed pumps in new pool construction, requiring instead dual-, multiple- and variable-speed pumps with motors 1 horsepower or better. And for very good reason.

Single-speed pumps operate, as the name implies, at one speed. Even though they perform efficiently enough to circulate the pool water, they are not as efficient when it comes to powering the extras: pool cleaners, water falls, spas, whirlpools, and other electrical add-ons.  So, when the pump is required to power more than just circulating water, it ends up working harder, working longer, and costing you as much as 90% more in energy use.

If you have an older swimming pool you might want to check to see if your filter is up to “speed.”  A replacement could set you back $1,200 to $1,400 for parts and installation, but homeowners who have already made the change are reaping the benefits, some saving $300 or more a year on their electric bills.  Your local utility may also offer rebates to help defray the cost.

For more energy savings, consider the following Bob Vila articles:

Easy Ways to Green Your Home
Tankless Hot Water Heaters: Should I or Shouldn’t I?
How To: Save Water at Home