Swimming Pool Energy
Swimming pools offer several opportunities to either conserve energy or improve efficiency. I will write briefly about several opportunities concerning pools.
All pools have filter pumps. They range in size and are measured by horsepower. Larger pools or pools with a spa will have pumps at or over 1 horsepower. A pump is supposed to be sized according the gallons of water in your pool. If sized properly, pump manufacturers state the pump will move the entire pool’s water in an 8 hour period. Like most other energy issues you cannot follow what is recommended for northern climates. If you run your pump less than 8 hours when water temperature is 70° or above you will have water quality problems. When water temperatures are below 70° you may run the pump 5-6 hours. All new residential pool filter pump(s and) motors rated at 1 horsepower and greater sold in Florida must be capable of operating at two or more speeds. These pumps will operate more efficiently but will have a higher initial cost.
The next major consideration is pool heat. Our company is involved in natural gas, propane, electric and solar so I will discuss this as unbiased as possible. In pool heating, one type of pool heat does not fit all. The type(s) of pool heat you use will depend largely on your usage. The considerations are: 1) Are you heating the pool all year or everyday throughout the winter? 2) Are you going to heat it for a few special occasions? 3) Do you have a spa connected to your pool? 4) If not heating your pool and spa daily do you want to have to put it on the calendar to use the spa or on a whim have it hot in 30 minutes? 5) What is the desired water temperature?
If you want to heat your pool daily, don’t have a spa, and are comfortable with 76-80° water temperatures and have proper exposure, I would recommend solar. If you have the same scenario and no solar exposure I would use an electric heat pump. If you are heating your pool in winter months and want temperatures in the mid to upper 80’s you will need to go with a gas pool heater. If you are heating your pool on a few special occasions, I would suggest a gas pool heater. You can heat a standard pool with a gas pool heater easily in one day verses multiple days with the solar or electric option. If you are interested in heating your pool daily and have a spa, you will need to do a combination. My first preference would be solar with gas for the spa and as a booster during the coldest times. My second preference would be a heat pump with gas for the spa and booster also.
Finally, if you are heating your pool daily, no matter what the heat source, covering your pool with a thermal covering will reduce your costs as much as 50%. The surface area of your pool allows a substantial amount of heat loss through radiation and evaporation.