10 Energy-Wise Ways to Lower Your Pool Maintenance Costs

Whether you're building a new swimming pool or retrofitting your existing one, be proactive in pursuing the many new methods and technologies that can help you keep the pool's often substantial operating costs to a bare minimum. Take the plunge!

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  1. Cost Cutting


    Everyone knows putting in a swimming pool is a considerable expense. What many don't expect are the ongoing maintenance cost. It typically costs hundreds, if not thousands, per year to keep pool water safe and comfortable to swim in (and attractive to look at). Newer technology, however, can significantly lower those costs, in many cases making pool ownership an accessible luxury.

    Kim Erle, LEED AP Homes, is a sustainability professional and founder of Sunset Green Home, a website that provides information about living a sustainable life and building a sustainable home.


  2. Introduce a Wind Break


    It makes sense when you think about it, but not many homeowners account for the fact that pool water evaporates just like water would in any other context. And wind only quickens the rate at which pool water becomes vapor and rises into the atmosphere. Stop the wind and you’ll stop losing the water you've already paid to heat and sanitize. Tim Rumph, of Araiys Design in Long Island, NY, designed this deer-resistant hedge, which not only provides privacy but also serves as a wind break for the homeowner’s pool.


  3. Install a Variable Speed Pump


    Retire your single-speed pump in favor of an ENERGY STAR-certified variable speed (VS) pool pump. According to ENERGY STAR, VS pumps result in average savings of over $300 annually (potentially more in climates where pools are used throughout the year). In fact, ENERGY STAR states, "If all pool pumps sold in the United States were ENERGY STAR-certified, we would save about $113 million per year and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 140,000 cars."


  4. Use a Pool Cover


    You're familiar with a couple of the reasons to put in a pool cover—namely, safety and water cleanliness. But did you know that a pool cover can save you up to 70% of your pool heating costs? Not only that, but a pool cover can reduce a pool’s evaporative water loss by up to 50%, while lowering its pool chemical consumption by 60% (according to the US Department of Energy). If you're put off by the price of an automatic cover, consider a foldable, solar bubble-type design.


  5. Use Larger Pool Filters


    A larger filter doesn't have to work as hard as a smaller model, since its greater surface area allows water to be pumped through at lower pressure. Not only does a larger filter contribute less to your monthly electricity bill, but it's also likely to last longer, saving you money in replacement costs over the long haul.


  6. Focus on the Plumbing Design


    An energy-efficient pump is no good if it’s trying to push water through a inappropriately sized pipe, or through a system with sharp changes in direction. Getting the hydraulics right improves the efficiency of your pump, as it enables water to move more effortlessly. The Tortorella Group in Long Island, NY, carefully designs its clients' pools to include wide sweeps, not tight corners.


  7. Change Your Sanitation System


    Newer technologies require fewer chemicals and less time for pool maintenance. Salt generators, for instance, which produce chlorine on site, virtually eliminate the need to buy and use any additional chemicals. Ozone and UV Ozone systems, meanwhile, require considerably less supplemental chlorine than traditional systems. Lower maintenance costs aren’t the only benefits of advanced sanitation; people actually love swimming in pools with less chlorine.


  8. Choose the Right Finish


    A darker-colored pool naturally absorbs more of the sun's heat, reducing your heating costs. In addition, you can lower your maintenance costs by choosing a long-life pool finish. John Zita of CL Industries notes, "The cement [beneath the finish] needs to be of good quality. That's critical to the bond of the finish." CL Industries sells pre-blended finish products with proprietary additives that fortify the cement and strengthen the overall finish. Pictured here, the elegant Hydrazzo Oceana Blue finish carries a lifetime warranty.


  9. Upgrade Your Heating System


    If you're going to heat the pool, do so by means of a high-efficiency heater. According to the DOE, you can save $315 for every $1,000 you spend annually to heat your pool by switching from a 65% efficiency gas heater to one with 95% efficiency (the Jandy Hi-E2 pool heater, pictured here, is the highest-efficiency gas heater available). For even greater energy savings, consider a heat pump (particularly if you live in a warm climate) or solar hot water panels.


  10. Opt for LED Lighting


    For better illumination with operating cost savings of 80% or more, choose LED lights. These types of bulbs typically last three times as long as incandescents, so over time you'll save on maintenance (this tool by Pentair enables you to calculate your potential savings). If you plan to install LED pool lights, check with your local utility; rebates may be available.


  11. Consider Pool Automation


    Save money on operating costs by outfitting your pool with the latest in automation. Just one of the many benefits: Automation makes it easy to run the pool pump only at those times of day when electricity rates are lowest. Jandy's iAqualink Controller, pictured here, is accessible from any mobile device and boasts an Energy Saving Program that automatically adjusts the pool's filtration, purification, and other systems for optimal efficiency.


  12. For More...


    If you're interested in more on pools, consider: 

    10 "Dream Worthy" Swimming Pools

    10 Reasons to Reconsider the Aboveground Pool

    Natural Swimming Pools: 10 Green and Gorgeous Designs

    Kim Erle, LEED AP Homes, is a sustainability professional and founder of Sunset Green Home, a website that provides information about living a sustainable life and building a sustainable home.


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