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How to Spend Less on the Maintenance of Your Pool

FAQ: How Do I Spend Less On My Pool?

Summer is finally here and with that comes the added expenses of running your pool. With that in mind, here are some answers to the most common energy saving questions we get here at The Spa Shoppe, as well as a few other thoughts on how to save money with basic pool maintenance.

Pumps

One of the biggest ways to save money is to reduce your pool pump's running costs. This can be done in two different ways; either reducing the run time of the pump or purchasing a more energy efficient pump.

How Long Should I Run My Pump For?

The goal of running a pool pump is to filter all of the water in the pool at least 2-3 times a day. Most single speed pumps can accomplish that turnover in 10-12 hours and therefore do not need to be running all day. Even though energy rates are higher during the day, we strongly recommend running your pool pump during the day and leaving it off for the night.

Warmer water and UV radiation from the Sun cause your pool to go through chlorine, increasing the likelihood of cloudy or green water. Both of these factors are at their peak during the daytime. By running your pump during the day you allow for an even distribution of chlorine, and proper circulation, both of which are critical for keeping water clear and algae blooms at bay. The extra money spent on electricity will be negated by not having to purchase extra chemicals to clear water issues.

Are Variable Speed Pumps Worth the Extra Money?
Variable speed pumps, like this Hayward
Superpump VS, are the most efficient
pool pumps available.

Absolutely, variable speed pumps are the most energy efficient, and quiet, pumps available. Reducing
a pool pump's speed by half will only consume around one quarter of the power of running it at full speed. Since it runs at half speed, you will generally need to run a variable speed for 24 hours a day. However, even though it is running for twice the time, it will still run at half the overall cost of a single speed pump. More advanced variable speed pumps even allow you to program them to run at different speeds during different times of the day so you can take advantage of off-peak energy rates.

Heating the Water

Heating the water is another big source of potential savings. Similar to pumps there are two main ways to save, either getting a more energy efficient heating system, or reducing it's run time.

What Temperature Should I Keep the Water in My Pool?

This really comes down to personal preference. Everyone is different, and everyone has different preferences for swim temperature. That being said, if you're looking to save money, every degree counts. For every extra degree you heat the pool, your heating costs will increase by 10-25%, depending on outside temperatures and the type of heater being used.

For example, if you have your pool heated to 79 degrees and it cost you $500 for the season, to heat that same pool to 80 degrees would have cost you between $550 and $625, depending on how cold of a summer it was and the type of heater.

What's the Most Energy Efficient Type of Heater, Natural Gas or Electric?

This basically comes down to how often, and for how long you plan on heating your pool. Natural gas (and propane) heaters will heat the water much quicker than an electric heater (commonly known as a heat pump). When properly sized, a natural gas/propane heater will heater the water 3-4 degrees/hour.

While heat pumps will generally take at least 24 hours to heat the water to the desired temperature, they also will maintain the water at that set temperature at a lesser cost.

So, if you plan on just using your heater for 1-3 days per week, a natural gas/propane heater is probably the better choice. If, however, you are looking to keep the pool at a consistent temperature all week, then a heat pump will end up being the cheaper solution.

What's the Difference Between Blue and Clear Solar Blankets?
Clear solar blankets do heat the
water more during the day, however
it is still best to leave the cover off
during the day.

Clear solar blankets have become more common in the last few years as people look for ways to get
more heat from their solar blankets. The clear material is meant to let more of the heat from the sun penetrate through the cover, heating the pool more than a traditional blue cover.

While clear solar blankets will work to an extent, the best way to heat a pool using a solar blanket is still to leave the cover off during the day and put it on overnight. Solar covers are designed to act as insulation, sealing in the heat of the pool water, and are not meant to be used as a source of heat. Because of this, a solar cover of any colour will act as a barrier for the energy from the Sun. By leaving the cover off during the day, you allow the maximum amount of energy from the Sun to be absorbed into the water. Once the Sun goes down, put the cover on the pool to trap that heat in the pool over the cool night.

Leaving the solar cover on the pool during the day will also expose the cover to the UV radiation of the Sun, drastically reducing it's life. To get the maximum life out of your solar cover you should keep it in the shade during the day, or covered with a protective solar blanket sheet.

Do Solar Heaters Work?
Solar heaters work well on hot, sunny days,
but can cool the pool on colder, cloudy days.

Solar heaters do work, but not always when you need them to. When the Sun is out and it's warm outside they will do a good job of heating the pool. On cooler or cloudier days, when you want more heat, they do not work well, and can even cool down the pool further. For best results, bypass your solar heater overnight, and on cold/cloudy days.

Thoughts on Other Ways to Save Money
  • The more water you lose, the more you have to replace. Other than the cost of the water, this also means more cost to heat that new water, and more chemicals to balance/treat that water. The easiest way to save water is to not backwash as much. Most people actually backwash their pool too often, especially if it is cloudy or green. Only backwash when the pressure gauge on your sand filter increases by 8-10lbs, regardless of water clarity.
  • Always make sure to keep your water balanced. Not only will this make it more comfortable to swim, it will also increase the lifespan of the components of your pool. Chronically acidic water especially will cause a lot of wear on you pump, heater, and liner. The cost of balancing chemicals is a fraction of what it will cost to repair/replace these components due to improper balanced.
  • Always make sure to keep chlorine in the desired range of 1-3ppm. Test the water at least 2-3
    Always check the chlorine levels in
    your pool to prevent algae blooms.
    It costs up to three times more to clear
    an algae bloom than for the chemicals
    to prevent it.
    times per week, paying close attention to the level of chlorine. If the chlorine level is too low you are prone to cloudy/green water, if it is too high for long periods of time you run the risk of extra wear to the o-rings and gaskets in your pump/filter/heater as well as your liner.
  • If you're looking for an automatic cleaner, consider a robotic cleaner. Robotic cleaners run completely independent of your pool's filtration system. This means you do not need to have the pump running in order to clean your pool. Since it has it's own filters, you also will not need to backwash your pool as often.
  • If you're planning on building a new pool, or are doing some new landscaping, try to have the pool in as much direct sunlight as possible to maximize free heat from the Sun. If possible, have a fence/bushes block the prevailing winds from getting to the pool.
  • While it is a commonly held belief that salt water pools are cheaper to run, it is not necessarily true. While they are cheaper to run day to day because you do not need to manually add chlorine, the startup cost of installing the system, and the cost of replacing the cell every 5 years offset those savings. You will also have to run your pool pump for longer than a traditional system as the system only produces chlorine when there is water flow past the cell.

At the end of the day there are plenty of ways to save money on the running costs of your pool. While new equipment (especially switching to a variable speed pump) will often make the biggest difference, there are still plenty of ways to save money without making large purchases. Maintaining proper water balance and chlorine levels, backwashing your filter less, using your solar blanket properly, running your pump for 12 hours a day instead of 24 hours, and turning your heater down a couple of degrees are all easy ways to save money.

If you have any more questions about energy savings or any other water care issue call our certified water care specialists at 905-666-5333. Do you also own a hot tub? Check out our post on how to save money on you hot tub's energy bill. Did you like this post? Like us on Facebook ( www.facebook.com/TheSpaShoppe ) or follow us on Twitter ( @thespashoppe ) to get notified when new blog entries are posted.