Swimming pools are a great way to enjoy our hot summer months. They provide an opportunity to get out of the house and enjoy the outdoors without sweltering in the Florida heat. However, the downside of swimming pools is that they can soak up a lot of energy and water if not maintained correctly. Luckily, we’ve collected some easy tips to protect our natural resources while keeping pool owners from” drowning” in utility bills!
Keep Your Filter Clean
This is one of the easiest ways to lower your pool’s energy usage. Regular cleaning and maintenance of your filter to keep it clear of debris mean that the whole system doesn’t have to work as hard. Improved water circulation through the filter will reduce energy costs and translate to savings. While some filters are relatively easy to clean, it is wise to have a professional cleaning company visit once or twice per year to do a deep cleaning. They can remove the buildup of sunscreens or other oils that could gunk up the inner parts of the filtration system.
Use a Pool Cover
Covering your pool when not in use is another simple way to keep maintenance costs low. According to The Department of Energy’s web resource, Energy.gov, “covering a pool when it is not in use is the single most effective means of reducing pool heating costs. Savings of 50%–70% are possible.” There are additional benefits as well. Pool covers serve three essential functions:
- Keep debris out of the pool – This also aids in keeping the filter working smoothly.
- Help control water temperature – Blocks the sun in the summertime and contains the heat generated by your pool heater in the winter.
- Prevent evaporation – This will help reduce water consumption throughout the hot Florida summers.
There are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to pool covers. There are different varieties suited to outdoor, indoor, or screened-in pools. In addition, consumers can choose from an assortment of materials suited to specific needs and environments. There are even automatic mechanisms available that cover or uncover pools with the press of a button. We recommend that our customers check out the Energy.gov website for more information so that they can choose the right pool cover to suit their specific needs.
Correct Pool Pump Usage
Make sure that the pool pump you have installed is perfectly matched to the size of your swimming pool. Ideally, you want your pool pump to be as small as possible while still being able to do its job. The larger a pump is, the more energy it will need to function correctly. Energy.gov provides guidelines for choosing the right size pump for your pool, as well as some tips for maximizing its efficiency.
In addition to sizing, it is crucial to select a pool pump that operates efficiently. This task has recently been simplified for consumers by the Department of Energy (DOE). As of July 19th of this year, a new standard has taken effect. They require all pool pumps on the market to be assigned a “weighted energy factor score” or WEF for short. Higher WEF ratings indicate better performance and top out around 13. As with other home appliances, Energy Star certification is a good indication that a pool pump meets efficiency standards.
Another critical point concerning pool pumps is that they don’t need to run continuously to keep the pool clean. Cutting down the time that the water is circulating to between three and six hours per day can reduce your utility bill. Supplement the pumps cleaning abilities by manually skimming the pool and periodically scrubbing the sides. Some pools are surrounded by trees or other sources of debris. In that case, it may be necessary to schedule the pool pump to turn on for several short intervals throughout the day to stay on top of keeping it clear. This is a more cost-effective solution than running the pump all day long.
Solar alternatives to traditional electric pumps may further increase your energy savings. While this option is best for many households, there are several factors to consider before making this choice, including:
- Will the panels receive enough sun throughout the day?
- Will the system provide adequate power for the size of your pool?
- Does the cost of solar system installation make sense to meet your needs?
These considerations and others are covered in detail by the Department of Energy on their energy conservation website. We recommend that our customers review all this information to determine if solar is the right fit for their pool.
Smart Temperature Control
As a rule, the lower the water temperature you try to maintain in your pool, the lower your energy usage. According to Energy.gov, “energy consumption for each degree rise in temperature will cost 10%–30% more in energy costs, depending on your location.” This is important since our hot Florida climate has a significant impact on water temperature for much of the year.
Pool owners should turn their heater temperature down or OFF when they don’t plan on using the pool for a while. For example, if you only use your pool on the weekends, turn off the heater during the week. This is especially true if you plan on going on vacation. The DOE also addresses a belief widely held by homeowners. They point out that “it’s a myth that it takes more energy to heat a pool back up to the desired temperature than you save by lowering the temperature or turning off the heater.” So go ahead and switch off your pool heater without trepidation.
There are other minor adjustments that you can make to help keep your pool temperature down throughout the hottest months. Keep your pool as shaded as possible and consider installing a fountain or other water feature. Installing sunshades or awnings around the pool deck is an excellent method of providing a nice place for swimmers to relax and avoid sunburn while shading a portion of the pool. As mentioned earlier, pool covers can also shade the pool to keep water temperatures within a desirable range throughout the day. Fountains or waterfalls enhance the look of your pool, add soothing water sounds, and help keep temperatures low.
Contact UCNSB When Filling your Pool
Customers of the New Smyrna Beach Utilities Commission may be eligible for a rate adjustment on their utility bill for the month that they refill their swimming pool. This amendment is offered to each account once per calendar year. Customers are required to fill out our Wastewater Adjustment Request Form and meet specific requirements. This form must be completed and submitted within six months of the date of the increased water usage. Don’t hesitate to contact our office with any questions you may have about this form.
UCNSB is happy to provide savings to our customers and encourage our community to get outside in the sunshine and get some exercise! It is more important than ever to enjoy time outdoors when spending time with family and friends in these uncertain times. We hope that these energy and water-saving tips will ease some of the burdens of pool ownership so that our customers can have more fun!