Most people agree that pools are a ton of fun. Most people also agree that if you’re not careful they can cost a lot to run. As hydro rates continue to climb, pool owners are increasingly looking for ways to make their pools more energy efficient.

Whether you’ve just moved into a house with a pool or you’ve owned a pool for years, here’s how to spend less to operate your pool and while still getting the most out of the short Ottawa pool season.

1) Use A Solar Blanket

One of the biggest sources of heat loss in a pool is evaporation. In fact, evaporation accounts for around 30% of the total heat loss of a pool! If you own a heater, this means spending more money to keep your pool properly heated. If not it means colder water, less use, and a shorter swimming season.

The loss of water also means spending money filling your pool and treating the fresh water with chemicals. Covering your pool with a solar blanket greatly reduces water loss due to evaporation. It also acts as insulation, reducing heat loss in the pool water.

2) Run Your Pool Heater More Efficiently

Pool heaters are a great way to extend the swimming season. They can also cost a ton of money to run. When buying a new pool heater, pay close attention to the efficiency rating of the heater. Even a small increase in efficiency can add up to big savings over time. Electronic ignition heaters also don’t require a standing pilot be lit, providing further savings on your gas bill.

If you already own a gas heater, only use it when necessary. Gas heaters heat water very quickly. A properly sized gas pool heater can easily raise water temperatures by 2-3 degrees per hour. This means that heating the water to your desired temperature can usually be done in the space of a few hours. For maximum efficiency, turn your heater on a few hours before you plan on using it. Once it hits your desired temperature, simply shut it off and enjoy the warm water!

If you want to keep your pool at a constant temperature, ditch the gas heater in favour of a heat pump. While heat pumps take much longer to heat the pool, achieving around 1 degree per hour, they do so much more efficiently than gas heaters. While they are more costly to purchase than gas heaters, this efficiency makes them the cheaper long term choice if you plan on maintaining a consistent temperature.

To add to your savings, consider lowering the temperature of your heater by a couple of degrees. While this probably won’t make a huge difference to the comfort of your swim, it can save you up to 30% on your heating bill! 

3) Get A Variable Speed Pump

Is your pump approaching the end of its life? Do you have a timer installed on your pump and are still paying too much? It may be time to consider a variable speed pump. Rather than traditional single speed pumps that can only run at full speed, variable speed pumps allow you to dial back the speed that their impeller spins.

The slower a pool pump’s impeller spins, the less power the pump consumes. This can lead to huge savings on your hydro bill. In fact, reducing the impeller speed by half will reduce the pump’s power consumption by almost 90%! Even with short Ottawa swimming seasons, switching to a variable speed pool pump can easily save you $300 per year ($500 per year if you run your single speed pump 24 hours per day).

Not only do variable speed pumps save you money, they are also better built, last longer and are much quieter than single speed pumps. Running them 24 hours a day also means improved water clarity and a lessened chance of a green pool.

4) Regularly Maintain and Balance The Water

Regular maintenance is key to ensuring a long life from your pool equipment. Your regular maintenance schedule should include:

Cleaning The Skimmer Basket

Clean out your pool’s skimmer basket 1-2 times per week. A pump trying to pull water through a clogged skimmer basket has to work hard to maintain proper flow. This extra work means a reduced lifespan. Keeping your skimmer is clean is one of the best ways to ensure a long life for your pool pump.

Backwashing The Pool

Backwash your pool when the sand filter gets dirty. This follows the same principal as cleaning your skimmer basket. Dirty filters are harder to push water through, meaning your pump won’t last as long as it should.

How do you know if your pool’s sand filter is dirty? Check the pressure gauge. When it reaches 10-12 psi above where it started after the last backwash, it’s dirty. Gauge broken? Replacements can be purchased for around $10.

Regularly Balance The Water

The water balance of your pool is constantly changing due to:

  • Rain water being introduced.
  • Topping up water to make up for evaporation.
  • People using the pool.

If your pool water becomes acidic, it can cause wrinkles in the liner, can reduce the life of your pool equipment and even cause metal components like heater elements to rust. Water that becomes basic can cause staining or scaling of the liner and equipment, as well as cloudy water.

Balancing your water at least once per month helps to ensure you get the longest possible life out of your liner and pool equipment while also keeping the water comfortable to swim in.

Brush The Pool Liner

No matter how good your filtration system is, there are “dead spots” in your pool. Dead spots are areas of the pool with very poor or no water circulation. This lack of water movement is perfect for algae. To help prevent algae growth, brush the entire liner of your pool regularly.

Clean Your Salt Cell

Over the course of a pool season, the chlorine generating salt cells found in salt pools can become coated with calcium and other minerals. Even very thin mineral buildups greatly reduce the efficiency of a salt chlorine cell. In fact, a buildup as thin as a piece of paper will reduce the efficiency of a salt cell by around 50%!

This reduced efficiency means your salt cell will not generate nearly as much chlorine as it should. This will eventually lead to one of two things:

  1. The chlorine level in your pool drops to 0 and the pool turns green. Treating this means spending at least $100 on chemicals and losing out on days or weeks of the short Ontario swimming season.
  2. You have to turn up the output on the cell to make up for the lack of efficiency. Turning up the output of the cell means the cell has to work much harder to produce chlorine. The harder it has to work, the quicker it will have to be replaced. With new cells costing at least $700, the longer your cell lasts, the better.

To avoid these scenarios you should clean your salt cell in Gen-R-8 Cell Cleaner at least once per year. Pools filled with hard water should have their salt cells cleaned at least twice a season.

Wrapping Up

To make a pool energy efficient doesn’t require major renovations. In fact, small additions like solar blankets and timers can make significant differences in the energy usage of your pool. Even simple maintenance like regular backwashing and cleaning can end up saving you money over the course of a pool season.

If you are willing to invest a little money upfront however, purchasing a variable speed pump is the absolute best way to cut down on the long term energy costs of your pool.

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