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Take a Dive into Energy Efficiency

2013 July 8
Pool Pump

Pool Pump

Chris Kent

Chris Kent, EPA

By: Chris Kent

Families across the country celebrated the Fourth of July with barbeques, trips to the beach and lots of fun in the sun. But if your holiday plans involved inviting everyone out to your pool, you will be happy to know there’s an easy new way to save energy, save money and help prevent climate change. Choose a pool pump with the ENERGY STAR label.

The principle function of a pool pump is to re-circulate water through a filter to maintain water clarity and hygiene.  But what many pool-owners don’t realize is how much energy is wasted.  According to the Department of Energy, a pool pump typically uses 1,500 kWh/year. That makes it the number one energy consuming device in a home with a pool, often accounting for up to 20 percent of the energy a home uses.  There are approximately 5.4 million U.S. households with in-ground pools and the number is growing.  Even with all the other energy consuming components such as lights, cleaners, and heaters, the primary pool pump (which is found in every pool) is responsible for the majority of a pool’s energy consumption. Several studies show that the most immediate and impactful energy savings measure for a pool is replacing the commonly used single speed pump with a two-speed, multi-speed, or variable speed pumps – these are the ones eligible for the ENERGY STAR.

The reason ENERGY STAR certified, multi-speed pumps save energy is simple. Different pool operations require different pump speeds.  An ENERGY STAR certified pump can run at different speeds and be programmed to match the pool operation with an appropriate pump speed.  For example, filtration requires only one-half the flow rate of other pool functions, such as running cleaners. Conventional pool pumps operate at the same speed regardless of whether you are cleaning or just running the filter, so they waste a lot of energy during filtration by running faster than necessary. The reduction in energy use by switching to an ENERGY STAR certified pump is considerable; a reduction in pump speed of one-half allows the pump to use just one-eighth as much energy.

Households who replace older, inefficient pool pumps with ENERGY STAR products can achieve significant savings on operating costs and are often eligible for a rebate from their local utility program.  On average, they use 30- 52% less energy than standard models, depending on the pump motor design (i.e., two speed, variable speed/flow, etc) which translates to about $160 per year less in energy costs.  If you live in a warmer climate, your savings could be even higher.  Check with your local utility, as many are offering hundreds of dollars in incentives for ENERGY STAR certified pool pumps.

For a list of certified pool pumps visit the ENERGY STAR web site.  Work with your local pool professional or contractor to select the appropriate sized ENERGY STAR certified pump.  If you don’t own a pool, we have great tips available for every budget here. Take a dive into ENERGY STAR this summer. And don’t forget about sun safety – EPA’s SunWise program has lots of wonderful information to keep you safe in the sun on our web site.

Christopher Kent has been an Environmental Protection Specialist at the US EPA since 1995.  He is develops and manages a variety of product specifications for the ENERGY STAR program, including pool pumps.  

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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