​A swimming pool pump can be a significant source of electricity use — ENERGY STAR-certified pumps use far less energy. Photo by Vic Brincat.
Category: Smart Energy Tips

Good job, buddy! You are doing it!”

There are several vicarious achievements that we get to experience with our young children. Starting kindergarten, learning to ride a bike, scoring their first soccer goal, and on the list goes.

Last summer, Leo Ross learned to swim while his dad, Mitch Ross, energy efficiency manager for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, learned to how to operate his new pool with energy savings. Photo by Mitch Ross.

Last summer, I got to celebrate such an occasion with my then 5-year-old son, Leo, who was learning to swim. I got so much joy from sharing one of my favorite activities with him. I was able to watch him go from scared and nervous in the water to excited and confident! This summer, I’m sure I’ll get to see him continue to improve his skills in the water, and it’s all because we added a swimming pool to our yard.

Just as his inexperience in the water led to him feel nervous in the beginning, I was a bit nervous as well as a first-time pool owner. Apart from all the knowledge required to maintain a pool, I was worried about the extra expense on my utility bill.

As an energy auditor, I’d been to many high- energy-use homes where the primary culprit was a swimming pool. Luckily, the study I had done as an energy auditor to help others with their energy-hog pools helped me to avoid that painful experience!

As you get your pools ready for the summer, here are some tips to help you keep your associated energy expenses as low as possible.

Pool Pump Timer: Install and properly use a pool pump timer. This is by far the most common tip I’ve found helpful for pool owners. Many people let their pool pump run 24/7. This alone can add as much as $100 per month to your utility bills. It’s also completely unnecessary. To know how long you should run your pool pump, there are some helpful online calculators. You just need to know approximately how many gallons of water your pool holds and the pool pump’s rated horsepower. For most pools, the number is likely between 7-12 hours per day, meaning that you could save $50 or more per month by properly using a timer.

Clean Filtration: Clean filtration is efficient filtration. Keep your filters as clean as possible! As filters become clogged, the pump moves less water per hour, which leads to longer run times to keep the pool clean.

Proper Chemical Balance: Another thing I find is that homeowners will run the pump longer than they should to make up for improper chemical balance in their pools. It’s always best to have your chemicals and pump run times both set appropriately for the pool.

Shut Down Pools During the Off-Season: If your pool goes unused for months, I recommend properly shutting it down so it doesn’t continue to use energy.

Pool Heater: Unfortunately, even if you have the most efficient gas or electric pool heater on the market, using it is the equivalent to using an efficient HVAC system on a home with no roof! There is just no way to keep the heat from quickly escaping.

I hope these tips help alleviate some of the stress of having a pool can add so that you can focus on the fun and memories this summer, as I intend to!