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Managing Your Pool’s Temperature for Energy Efficiency This Spring

If you have an above ground swimming pool or an in ground swimming pool, then you know that maintaining and using it typically means higher than average energy bills. The actual effect varies depending on the size of your pool, but if you use a non-solar pool heating system, the effect is especially pronounced during the Spring and the Fall when heaters run more frequently.

Accepting that managing the temperature is going to cost something, the question becomes what temperature you require to make your pool comfortable for your purposes, and how much it costs to get it there. The American Red Cross (“ARC”) recommends a swimming pool temperature between 78°F and 82°F. While the ARC recommends 78°F for competitive swimming—which helps keep your energy bills lower—kids and older adults are likely to require something above 80°F to remain comfortable.

Whatever your needs are, and however much you are willing to spend per month to meet them, here are some quick tips to get through it all as efficiently as possible:

• Use an accurate pool thermometer. An uptick of just 1°F in your pool can increase your energy costs by 10% or more, so being able to determine the pool water’s correct temperature is a must.

• Use a pool cover. This helps retain heat, thereby directly reducing your energy bills. Depending on the level of your pool’s direct sun exposure and surrounding climate (and whether you use a solar pool cover), you may be able to save up to 90% on heating costs simply by employing this strategy. It also indirectly saves on energy costs by reducing water evaporation.

• Minimize wind exposure. To the extent possible, providing shelter for the swimming pool from wind will reduce heat loss and water evaporation, in turn reducing the burden on your heater and your wallet. Suggestions for accomplishing this include utilizing fencing, decking systems, or landscaping walls. Additionally, utilizing strategically placed shrubs, trees, and plants may help as well.

• Install a time clock on your heater. There is a common misconception that it takes more energy to re-heat a pool up to a certain temperature than it does to maintain it at that same temperature. This is not true, so there is no reason to pay to heat your swimming pool when it is not in use. If you know you are not going to use the swimming pool in the immediate future, it’s best to simply turn off the heater altogether.

• Minimize Fountain or Waterfall Use. Using a spraying or falling water display in your pool enhances the look, atmosphere, and fun of your swimming pool, but it also exposes additional pool water to the surrounding air, thereby accelerating heat evaporation. Consider minimizing or eliminating use of these features while you are actively heating your swimming pool.

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