2014 Habitat for Humanity Builders Blitz Is Underway
June 5, 2014
Moving into the Evergreen: Green Living
March 19, 2011
Two Homes, One Week
June 19, 2014
Swimming Pools and Energy Efficient Pool Pumps
May 13, 2011
Florida has a population of almost 19 million people and I've heard that there are over 1.2 million pools in the state. This means that there is a pool for every fifteen people! This statistic opened my eyes to an often overlooked energy consumer of the home that has a large impact on the utility bill. Average sized pools in our area typically cost between $50 and $110 per month in electricity to operate, but several highly efficient pool pumps are readily available that can cut electricity costs by 50%-90%. This translates into hundreds of dollars in savings each year.
Let's start by simply describing the three main types of pool pumps in use right now: single speed, two speed, and variable speed. Single speed pumps operate pretty much how they sound - always at one speed - and are the least expensive pump. This type of pump often operates off of a simple mechanical timer. Two speed pumps, on the other hand, can operate at both a low and high speed setting, but require additional controls and cost a little more up front. Variable speed pumps operate at many different speeds with advanced controls to adjust to the needs of your unique pool. The variable speed pump maximizes efficiency, but costs the most up front.
In 2008, the Florida Legislature passed an energy bill that provides for new rules on the energy efficiency of residential pool pumps. The law mimics one that is already in effect in California and will become effective in Florida at the end of 2011. The rule essentially requires the use of two-speed or variable speed pool pumps on all 1HP or larger pool pump installations and pump replacements. Existing single-speed pumps will still be allowed to be used and repaired, but must be replaced by the more efficient models whenever they fail. Single speed 1/2 and 3/4 HP pumps are not affected by the new rules. The new rule also requires fewer turnover cycles (the frequency of all the water in your pool going through the pump) than previously required. The purpose of the changes are to reduce the energy consumption of pools - sort of like an increase in the MPG for operating your pool.
Two of the largest manufacturers of pool equipment - Hayward and Pentair - both offer two-speed and variable speed pumps. I found that both companies had useful energy calculators on their websites to help calculate your savings by changing to variable or two-speed pumps. Both companies show similar savings for their variable speed options, but the Hayward two-speed pump appears to run at double the efficiency of the Pentair two-speed pump. The two speed pumps reduced electricity use by 40-65% compared to single-speed pumps, while the variable speed pumps reduced electricity use by 90-95% compared to single-speed pumps. The improved efficiency translates into hundreds of dollars each year and often result in very quick simple paybacks on the higher upfront investment required for the pumps. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, you will likely see a payback within the first year, while those who hire a pool contractor may not see a full return on their investment for one to two years. In either case, the money spent on a pool pump replacement seems like a great investment. A qualified pool contractor can assess your unique pool and accessories to create a financial analysis for your return on investment.
There are many other variables besides efficiency when selecting a pool pump though, so it is important to discuss your unique situation with a pool contractor or one of your do-it-yourself pool stores. For instance, solar water heaters will affect which type of pump you use and how often the pump runs at high and low speeds. Furthermore, each pump requires slightly different electrical controls and may also need different plumbing to accommodate the different size replacement pump.
f you are just curious about how much electricity your pool is using and its cost to you, go online and search for a 'pool pump energy calculator'. There are many available and each offers very helpful information. When you are ready to replace your pool pump or getting ready to install a new pool, ask your pool contractor about the pros and cons of each pump option and how each affects your long-term operating costs. Also, be sure to hire a licensed and insured contractor and remember to ask for references.
FPL - Pool use calculator:http://www.fpl.com/residential/energy_saving/seasonal/pool_spa.shtmlHayward Energy Calculator:http://www.haywardnet.com/inground/products/energysolutions/calculator.cfmPentair Calculator:http://www.pentairpool.com/pool-owner/resources/calculators/pool-pump-calc