When it's sizzling outside, there's nothing like a dip in the pool – but your shimmering blue escape from the summer heat also uses a lot of energy, as you're probably all too aware. If you want to reduce your pool's energy consumption, here are a few ideas to get you started!
Use a Pool Cover
A pool cover keeps debris from falling into your pool, but it also slows down evaporation – the single biggest source of heat loss for pools, which necessitates having to use more energy to warm up the water.
To end this vicious cycle, consider getting a solar pool cover. It looks like bubble wrap (with the bubbles upside down), but it's a much stronger material than what you use to encase fragile items before shipping. All pool covers reduce evaporation, but a solar pool cover converts the sun's energy into heat, increasing the water temperature. It also keeps heat from escaping at night. Lastly, it has UV inhibitors, which block the sun's rays that are harmful to chlorine.
The big payoff with a pool cover is you can save between 50 to 70 percent on pool heating costs, according to the Department of Energy, while reducing your need to add water by 30 to 50 percent.
Automatic pool covers are an especially convenient option, providing a number of additional benefits including safety and reduced chemical usage at the push of a button.
Dip Your Toe into Pool Solar
Although you're probably familiar with rooftop solar panels as a renewable home energy source, you may not know about the systems specifically designed to heat home pools. They typically include a solar collector to heat the water, a filter to remove debris, a pump to circulate water, and flow control valve to divert pool water through the solar collector.
Along with the significant reduction of your pool heating costs, one of the best aspects of pool solar is the ability to extend your swimming season quite dramatically. Murrieta, CA HERO Homeowner Loreen Hasenin reports she now enjoys being able to use her pool from March through October or even November!
Learn more about solar options
Try a Smaller Pool Pump
If you have an older pool pump, a newer model will help you cut your energy costs, especially if it's smaller. Bigger pumps use more energy.
Conventional pool pumps, for example, have only one speed – yet filtration doesn't require full speed, but rather half the flow rate of running a pool cleaner. A recent study of pool owners in Florida showed they saved 75 percent in energy costs by using a smaller, more efficient pump with multiple speeds as well as using it less often.
Just be sure to keep your intake grates clean. If they're clogged, the pump will have to work harder.
Use a Timer
The pool pump doesn't have to be on all the time. You can set the timer to go on and off throughout the day to keep the water circulating. The Florida study showed that many pool owners were able to reduce the hours the pump was on to less than three, and it didn't affect the quality of the water. Just making that small adjustment shaved 60 percent off their energy bill.
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Energy.gov: Swimming Pool Covers: http://energy.gov/energysaver/swimming-pool-covers
Energy.gov: Installing and Operating an Efficient Swimming Pool Pump: http://energy.gov/energysaver/installing-and-operating-efficient-swimming-pool-pump
Energy.gov: Landscape Windbreaks and Efficiency: http://energy.gov/energysaver/landscape-windbreaks-and-efficiency
United States Geological Survey’s Water Science School: Evaporation: http://water.usgs.gov/edu/watercycleevaporation.html
Dummies: How to Warm Your Pool with a Solar Cover: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-warm-your-pool-with-a-solar-cover.html
Arbor Day: How to Plant a Windbreak to Conserve Energy: https://www.arborday.org/trees/climatechange/windbreak.cfm