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Ask the Expert: How to reduce the costs of running a pool

Ask the Expert: How to reduce the costs of running a pool

by | Jul 25, 2018 | 0 comments

If my pool pump motor is the standard 1 horsepower (HP) and runs about 8 hours per day, how much will it cost me per month? What would the savings be if I buy the multi-speed motor, or the more expensive variable speed motor?

Asked by: Joe D., Vero Beach, FL

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Hi Joe, outside of the air conditioner, the pool pump is the largest energy consumer in the average pool-containing home. Pool pumps use up to 2,500 kWh per year to circulate and filter the water.

The average monthly costs for a 1 HP pump running 8 hours per day in Florida is approximately $30*. Switching to a 2-speed pool pump motor will save approximately $7 per month and switching to a variable speed motor can save approximately $21 per month.**

Doing the most work in the least time

Reducing the energy costs associated with running your swimming pool pump often involves selecting the right pump for the job. The number one thing to keep in mind is that your pump is used to help keep your swimming pool circulating and clean. Pool pumps should be run an average 8 hours a day to properly circulate and clean your water — and should push the water through your entire pool during this time. However, often a pool pump’s horsepower is too strong for the pool’s size, meaning it uses more energy than needed, which drives costs up.

Often times, single-speed pool pumps provide greater circulation than the pool filtration system requires. Once turned on, a single-speed pump runs at a constant speed, so it’s best to run it for the minimal amount of time needed. For example, your pump may be pushing water through in a 6-hour or even a 4-hour period. In this case, you can reduce the time you run your swimming pool pump to save costs.

Save up to $100 a year with our low-cost pool tips

By maintaining your pool’s cleanliness, water clarity, and chemical levels, you may be able to reduce your pool pump’s run time and save up to $100 per year. We recommend you limit the run time to 6 hours each day in the summer and 4 hours each day in the winter.*** Reducing your pool pump by 2 hours could save you up to $10 per month.

Other ways to save

  1. Use energy efficient motors (EE) – Switching to an energy efficient motor can also help you save. Replacing your existing pump motor with an energy efficient one can save you close to 10% of your pool pump cost. For example, the same 1 HP pump listed above that is switched to a 1HP EE pump motor could save you somewhere around $3 per month or $36 per year.
  2. Two-speed pumps (also called dual speed) – the two-speed pump has a low speed option, which is far more efficient than running the pump on high speed all the time. While they are an improvement over single speed pumps, and could reduce pool pump energy cost by approximately 25% if used correctly, you will also need a two-speed timeclock, and an extra wire from the clock to the pump. This increases the cost to such a point that you may as well buy a variable speed pump, which will have at least three speeds, contains its own timeclock, and uses the permanent magnet motor.
  3. Using a variable speed pump (VS) Variable speed pumps use lower speeds to consume less energy. They can be programmed to achieve the ideal filtration flow rate with the least amount of energy consumption it needs for cleaning, heating and so on. Often available with eight varying speeds, VS pumps will adjust their energy consumption to your pool’s needs at different times in the maintenance cycle. Variable speed pool pumps can reduce pool pump energy consumption approximately 70% compared to a standard pump.
  4. Use a bigger filter (or a more effective filter) – A pool filter that is more effective like a DE filter (diatomaceous earth) is so efficient at trapping dirt that it requires less pump run time. A bigger filter is also going to have greater dirt trapping ability, but perhaps more importantly will have less resistance than a smaller filter. Running at lower pressure, the larger filter is less work for the pump to push water through.
  5. Maintain balanced water – Giving the pool chemistry constant attention will prevent water problems from growing into something that requires running the pump longer to restore the water quality. Good water balance and sanitation practices reduce the need for additional filtration.
  6. Use helper sanitizers – When your water is really sanitary, there is less work for the filter to do – fewer particles to remove from the water. Adding a secondary, or supplemental sanitizer (or even using clarifiers or enzymes, can reduce your filtration demand, allowing you to run the pump less, while still keeping the water clean and clear.

For additional resources on pool and spas energy usage, visit https://www.fpl.com/save/resources/pools-spas.html. You can also take the Online Home Energy Survey at FPL.com/OHES to get even more detailed information on the cost of your pool and potential savings.

Pool Pump Law

A Florida law requires pool pumps to be more energy efficient. The law, which took effect in 2011, requires pool pumps of one or more horsepower to be multi-speed for all new homes. Be sure to talk to a certified or registered pool contractor if you have questions.

* Energy cost of $ 0.10 per kWh as per our residential customer rate.
** According to a University of Miami study, a Dual Speed pool pump on average will save 24%, while a Variable Speed pump can realize up to 72% savings over a Single Speed pool pump.
*** Please check with your local pool professional to determine if this applies depending on your pool’s size, location and use.

About The Author

Brad Goar

Brad Goar is the program manager for FPL's Home Energy Survey and Low Income Weatherization programs. With over 140,000 home energy surveys performed annually, FPL's Home Energy Survey is one of the largest utility run energy survey programs in the nation.

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