Changing the time of day you run your pool pump can save you hundreds of dollars a year.
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Pump up the savings

High electric bill? Check your pool pump.

Kevin Hoffman
July 25, 2023

If you own a pool, you already know that it’s one of the biggest contributors to high energy bills.

One extreme example was recently posted to Reddit: The unlucky pool owner uploaded their electric bill, revealing they were paying about $200 per month in electricity costs for the pool alone.

Unless you’re heating the pool, the culprit for a pool owner’s high energy bills is invariably the pool pump. Which means that one of the easiest ways to lower your energy bill if you have a swimming pool is to invest in an energy-efficient pool pump.

Here’s what you need to know to save money and energy.

What is a pool pump?

The pool pump is an essential part of your swimming pool’s circulation system. The job of the pool pump is to circulate water through the pool’s filtration system, ensuring that it remains clean and clear. You should run all the water in the pool through the filter system at least once per day, and more often when it’s seeing a lot of use.

The typical pool pump for a residential pool uses 1 kWh of electricity per hour. To put it in perspective, that’s equivalent to running a 100-watt light bulb for 10 hours straight, and it really adds up. Over the course of a year, that pool pump will use anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 kWh of electricity, depending how often you run it.

All of that electricity comes at a steep cost. You could be paying anywhere from $40 to $150 per month in unnecessary electricity costs, according to Energy Star, a U.S. government program that promotes energy efficiency, and that’s before factoring in time of use pricing. Switching over to a more energy efficient pool pump can cut its share of the electricity cost in half.

Single Speed vs. Variable Speed Pool Pumps

The single biggest factor to consider when looking to save money on electric costs with pool pumps is the motor speed.

A single-speed pool pump has only one fixed speed setting, which is typically set at the highest revolutions per minute (RPM) and operates at a constant speed regardless of the pool’s actual filtration needs. A single-speed pump uses as much as 1,800 to 2,500 watts while running. The average single-speed pump will cost from $40 to $150 per month in electricity to operate.

In contrast, a variable-speed pool pump offers much more flexibility and efficiency to the pool owner. It has the ability to operate at different RPM levels throughout the day so you can choose the most optimal based on your filtration needs. A variable-speed pool pump can average anywhere from 50-500 watts per hour and costs under $20 a month on your electric bill.

You can achieve huge energy savings because of the pump affinity law. The pump affinity law describes the relationship between the speed of a pump's motor, the flow rate it produces, and the energy required to operate it.

If you cut the speed of the motor by half, it reduces the energy required to operate it to 1/8th thanks to the pump affinity law. Because of this non-linear relationship, pool owners can save a lot of energy without sacrificing performance using a variable-speed pool pump.

Overall, a variable-speed pool pump is the more efficient and versatile option. It allows pool owners to adjust the motor speed to meet the pool's specific needs, resulting in significant energy savings, reduced noise levels, and potentially longer pump life.

How to reduce pool pump’s electric cost

There are many ways to lower the electricity cost of your swimming pool. Knowing when and how to run your pool pump can make a big difference on your electric bill.

The best way to figure out your optimal pool pump time is to run a little experiment. Start by running the pool pump for fewer than six hours on a given day. Then increase the run time for the pool pump by 30 minutes a day until you find the minimum required to clear the water.

Timing is everything. The key hours from 4-9 p.m. are a good time to turn down your pool pump to save electricity during peak energy consumption. Just remember to add chlorine in the evening to cleanse the water overnight when you don’t have to worry about UV rays.

Seasonality is also important. During the summer swim season, you’ll want to cycle the pool water at least once per day and maybe more often when it’s getting a lot of use. In the winter months when you aren’t using the pool as often, you can get away with running the pool pump less often, though it’s still a good idea to run it for at least six hours per day.

Lastly, the problem with your pool pump may not be the pool pump at all. Check your pool filter. If you have a dirty filter, your pool pump will have to work much harder to push the same amount of water, requiring more electricity and higher energy bill costs.

When to replace the pool pump

How will I know when it’s time to replace my pool pump? There are several signs you can look for to know if your pool pump is about to fail.

The most obvious indicator is the age: if your pool pump is over seven years old, it’s time to think about replacing your pool pump.

But that’s not the only sign you need a new pool pump. If your pool pump is making a lot of noise, overheating, or struggling to start–those are all clues that you need to replace your pool pump ASAP.

When you go shopping for a pool pump, you should seriously consider the lifetime energy costs in addition to the upfront cost of the pool pump. You may get a cheaper pool pump today, but you’ll pay more for it in the long run. An average pool pump will cost over $450 a year on your electric bill, compared to under $200 annually for an energy-efficient pool pump, according to Energy Star.

An energy-efficient pool pump pays for itself. Over the course of its lifetime, an energy-efficient pool pump will save you over $2,000 in electricity costs. You can expect it to pay for itself in less than 2 years through the savings you receive on your electric bill.

Speaking of your electric bill, many utilities offer incentives for customers to purchase energy-efficient pool pumps. In California, PG&E offers $100. In Long Island, New York, PSEG will pay from $150 to $350 for you to upgrade to an energy-efficient pool pump. And in Austin, Texas, you can get $300 for an energy-efficient pool pump from Austin Energy. Check your local utility’s incentives for energy-efficient pool pumps on Energy Star’s Rebate Finder.

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