How Much Power Does a Swimming Pool Use?

If you’re looking to buy or build a swimming pool, you have probably heard the saying, “pools cost less to build and more to maintain.” That’s a hyperbolic statement meant to bring your attention to the fact that pools cost money to operate, and you shouldn’t treat building costs as the total investment required. Most of this cost comes out in the form of electricity bills.

A swimming pool uses 17,000 to 2,500 KwH per year and can cost anywhere between $30 to $250 per month to overate, depending on how much heat you require and how long you keep the pool’s filter pumps running. You should also consider the cost of any manual clean-up you might need from time to time.

This article will look at the specific factors that can help you save money and energy when operating your pool. You will also learn what each component costs to run and whether there are alternatives. Finally, we will explore the minimalist pool maintenance strategy and whether you can execute it based on size and region.

Cost of Operating a Filter Pump – $30 to $150 per Month

If you have a pool, the bare minimum you need being pool-shocking is constant filtering. This is essential when you have people swimming in the pool. Still, even when your pool is doing nothing but holding water, you need to run your pool pump to have enough circulation so the water doesn’t stagnate or become an open-house for insects and microbes.

Single-speed pumps seem like a good idea because of how much they cost to purchase, but they strip you of the ability to adjust the water circulation speed. If your pool use isn’t predictable, this is a bad idea. The last thing you want is your empty pool going through filtration cycles as if it has a dozen jocks swimming after running a marathon. You also don’t want to have a dozen people in the pool while it filters water too slowly. Usually, a single-speed pump will cost you $75 to $150 every month in the electric bill.

Alternatively, you can opt for variable speed pumps, which, as the name suggests, can filter water at different speeds. These are great if your pool requirements and operation schedules vary a lot. You might not see anyone hop in your pool for a week, then have a week full of pool parties. 

With variable speed pumps, this is not a problem because you can filter your pool water at slow speeds when it isn’t in use and can ramp up the circulation speed when more people arrive. These pumps cost $30 to $50 monthly for an average pool.

Should I Get a Single-Speed Pump or a Variable Speed Pump?

Single-speed pumps are great if your pool is open to the public or a market, and you expect a rotating number of visitors every day. Pick a variable pool pump for almost every other situation because there is no use limiting your options. Variable pool pumps give you more control over your electric bill and pool cleanliness.

Top Variable Speed Pump to Purchase to Save Energy

If you want to reduce the amount of electricity you use while keeping your pool well-filtered, the Pentair SuperFlo Variable Speed Pool Pump might be exactly what you need for your pool. Remember, the right choice of filter pump can make all the difference in what your pool costs you every week. According to the manufacturer, you save $0.16 per kWh using a variable speed variety instead of a single-speed pump running for 12 hours a day. That saves you $400 every year.

Heat Pumps – $50 to $250 per Month

Like filter pumps circulate water for filtration, heat pumps do for warming up your pool. This is a pool essential in places with extreme climate or generally cold weather. If you have extreme climates, your nights are very cold and middays very hot. The temperature peaks and valleys are both steeper across different seasons as well in such regions. On the other hand, you might simply be in a generally colder area where swimming season is but a few weeks, and you need artificial heat to extend it.

Depending on how often you use the heat pump, you could run up the electricity bill by up to $250 per month. Remember that even this isn’t a hard-upper limit, and you might even spend more depending on your region and your pool size. Sometimes, having an indoor pool can be a great way to decrease the need for artificial heating. Having the right insulation around a shed-like structure that houses your indoor pool might be more cost-effective but isn’t exactly the most aesthetic pool experience.

Top Heat Pump to Purchase to Save Energy

Hayward Heat Pumps are ideal for your pool if you’re looking for a smart solution. The HeatPro 95,000 BTU Pool Heat Pump from the manufacturer is a game changer precisely because it is geared toward the economical use of heat and electricity. 

It uses surrounding air instead of other gas sources to heat the pool and does so at a fraction of the cost. With over 126 ratings and reviews, it stands at an average global rating of 4.4 stars out of five. Hayward claims that the pump can run, albeit not at best capacity, at 50F. This makes the pump one of the most versatile ones on the market and great for extending the swim season.

Inground Hot Tubs – $80 to 300 / Month

These are not pool essentials, so please do not include the $100 to $300 monthly operation expenses in your pool operation cost sheet. In-ground hot tubs are exactly what the name suggests: hot tubs that are in the ground. Usually, these are attached to the pool vertically and can either heat the main pool or just serve as a neighboring jacuzzi to the main pool. 

The cost of operation depends on the duration of running an inground hot tub. The monthly expenses might turn off many people from getting this amenity but getting a hot tub doesn’t mean you’ll be using it constantly. If you can afford to get one, you might as well have it. You might need to impress the neighbors now and then.

In terms of function, having a hot tub might be redundant if you have a heat pump, but you can also save money by heating a smaller quantity of water in the hot tub instead of warming up the whole pool just to have a glorified hot bath. For regions that are relatively cold most of the year, an inground hot tub might be an economical choice that might as well replace the main pool.

Weekly Pool Operation Expenses Breakdown

Let’s break down the information above to find our averages. Remember that your expenses will be different depending on the cost of electricity in your area, how much bigger or smaller your pool is compared to the average, and how often you run the equipment.

  • With low-use, you will spend $7.5 on filtration and $12.5 on heating every week. This brings your total weekly energy expenses to $20/week.
  • With moderate use, you will spend $10 on filtration and $20 on heating every week. This brings your total weekly energy expenses to $30/week.
  • With extensive filtration and heating, you will spend $12.5 running a variable filter pump and $60 running the heat pump, which brings your total energy use cost to an average of $72.5 per week.

How to Reduce Your Pool Operation Expenses

Now that you understand the standard equipment you need to run to maintain a pool and what they cost on average, here are a few things you can do to reduce the cost of operation.

Go in-Ground of Go Insulated

While inground pools are more expensive to build, they retain heat much better than above-ground pools simply because the earth is better at retaining heat than the atmosphere. Alternatively, you can opt for proper insulation around the panels so that the frames do not lose heat generated by the heat pump to the atmosphere.

Use Your Pool Cover

This works with the same principle as using appropriate insulation or building an inground pool: the fact that you do not lose the heat after paying to heat the water in your pool is the single most important aspect of saving money for pool operation expenses.

Keep Your Pool From Getting Dirty.

Just like you do not want to lose the heat you paid for, you don’t want to undo the cleanliness you paid for. That’s why having a shower-before-dip policy will go a long way in saving money. Many novice pool owners use it as a bath which can be convenient but wreaks havoc on the filtration system. Not only will you pay more to run your filter, but you will also need to replace filter panels sooner than you thought you would.

Maintain Pool Health

Another essential thing to keep in mind is that your pool will need more filtration the less clean it is, even down to the microscopic level. Therefore, you shouldn’t just keep dirt out and call it a day, but must use the right pool chemicals and maintain the pH levels of the water to reduce the filtration burden. 

Furthermore, this will save your water bill as you will not need to drain your pool as often. Of course, you will have to get fresh water at the beginning of pool season. Keeping your pool filled to the brim when you close it increases the risk of it popping out. For above ground pools, cracks can appear in the frame due to the hydrostatic pressure.

Don’t Warm the Pool Too Much

Reserve warming up the pool to the best levels for occasions instead of making that the norm. You’re paying by the degree when it comes to heating. As mentioned above, having a hot tub can be a great alternative for lower-cost heating if you want to have a warm dip. Heating up your whole pool for a solo dip may not be worth the money.

Have Standard Pool Times

If you are building your pool for the whole family, you should have specific hours for pool use. This way, you can have your filter pump and heat pump working at their peak functioning levels only during a small portion of the day while serving the largest number of people. Think of this as the entire family (or multiple siblings/friends) splitting the cost of heating and filtration.

Other Pool Upkeep to Consider

It is worth noting that if you look at pool maintenance on a scale of years, there will be certain recurring costs. You may not have to spend your money daily, weekly, or every month but you can’t ignore these charges. Another thing to keep in mind is that you’ll need to spend money procuring items or executing tasks that don’t require electricity or gas. It is easy to overlook these when you’re only focusing on certain bills as your operating expenses. Here are some things to consider:

Regular Use of Pool Chemicals – $25 per Month

You will need to use pool chemicals to balance the pH, kill any microbes in the water, and keep it safe for swimming. Sometimes, you can’t buy these chemicals in bulk because of storage issues, and if you’re long enough away from places where you can purchase them, you’ll have recurring delivery charges as well. However, most people with small pools spend $25 to $30 to maintain their pool. However, if you have a large enough pool, you may spend upwards of $100 per month on chemicals alone.

Closing the Pool After Swimming Season – $130 per Year

However long or short, when swimming season is over, you’ll need to cough up $130 minimum to execute the tasks required for closing your pool. This involves winterizing the pool, brushing and vacuuming ($50), and draining pool lines, and adding antifreeze, among other tasks. You have to note that $130 is for a small family pool. If you have a big enough pool, you might end up spending $300, of which $100 would go towards vacuuming alone.

Final Thoughts

Pool operation is expensive enough to justify the idiom ” pools cost less to build and more to maintain” to ring partially true. You can get too careless and spend more money on operating the pool than you did building one, but it would take a lot of carelessness. On the other hand, with just the right amount of care, you can maintain your pool for just $800 in electricity and $430 in chemical and closing costs.

Jed Arnold

Jed spent every year from the ages of 15 - 22 as a Lifeguard (Red Cross) and ages of 17 - 22 as a Certified Pool Operator (CPO). Between working for over a dozen facilities and owning a pool, he carries over a decade of pool experience.

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