If you installed a pool to keep the kids occupied this summer, you may see an increase on your monthly electric use.
The motors on pool filters and heaters may be out of sight and out of mind, until the electric bill comes.
If you’re installing a pool heater, make sure to look at its long-term operating costs and invest in a pool cover. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, using a pool cover in this region could save $400 to $800 a summer, depending on the desired water temperature. (Heating your pool to 78 degrees will cost less than heating it to 82 degrees. The energy consumption for each degree rise in temperature will cost 10 percent to 30 percent more in energy costs, depending on your location. In warmer climates, this percentage is higher because of the relatively low cost of heating a pool at 78°F.)
A Sioux Falls-based pool company notes on its website that solar pool covers can range from $139 to $1,300. Solar pool covers not only use sunlight to keep the water at a comfortable temperature, but they can also keep out bugs, leaves and more.
Solar blankets, which float on the pool surface, are the cheapest way to add 5° to 10° to the pool, and also help retain heat put into the pool by other means. Solar rings or squares work the same way, but are less effective than using one contiguous solar cover.
Smart landscaping around your family’s pool may also help with energy savings. Evaporation is one of the main ways a pool loses energy. The pool’s temperature, the air temperature, humidity and the wind speed at the pool surface can all affect the evaporation rate. Higher pool temperatures and wind speeds coupled with lower humidity increase the evaporation rate. A windbreak made of trees, shrubs or a fence, can help reduce evaporation in windy areas. But, there’s a balancing act: the windbreak needs to be sufficiently high and close to the pool so it doesn’t create turbulence over the pool. Turbulence will increase evaporation. The windbreaks must also be placed so that it doesn’t shade the pool from the sun’s heating effect.