Why invest in a variable speed pump?
With so much relying on your pump, we recommend installing a quality and reliable pump from a trusted brand and retailer.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve just bought a pool or you’ve had one for years, the most common complaint about being a pool owner isn’t the space disruption or the maintenance or trying to be an amateur chemist (actually, that’s the fun part). It’s the cost. But like most people, you’re probably resigned to spending hundreds – even thousands – on having a swimming oasis in your backyard.
It's worth it, right?
But having a pool doesn’t have to be a drain on your finances. In fact, there are plenty of ways you can lower your pool running costs without – gulp – backfilling your pool.
In this article, we show you 12 ways to reduce your pool maintenance and energy costs. Some of these are preventative measures; others are tricks of the trade. Either way, you’re bound to find a few strategies that’ll save you time and money in the long run.
Ready to put more cash in your pocket and less in your pool? Then let’s jump in!
Using a pool cover is a fast and easy way to reduce pool running costs. According to Ausgrid, pool covers can decrease water evaporation by up to 95 per cent, minimising top-ups or chemical adjustments. What’s more, their ability to insulate and prevent heat loss can increase your pool’s water temperature by six or eight degrees. This can reduce or even eliminate heating costs, which can be anywhere between $250 and $1500 per year.
Pool covers also provide a barrier against environmental debris like pollen, seeds, leaves and bugs. Without these contaminants, your pool stays cleaner for longer, allowing you to cut down on chemical use or automatic cleaning.
If you want to further reduce water evaporation, consider adding a windbreak around your pool. They can provide relief from harsh winds and whatever dirt and dust that may be blowing around.
Pro tip: Try to avoid liquid pool covers. While they’re effective at reducing water and heat loss, they don’t keep out environmental litter. If you would like to purchase long lasting products with superior heat retention abilities, get in touch with the team at Sunbather to find out about their offering and how they can help improve your lifestyle all year round.
Your pool pump is one of the hardest working pieces of equipment in your pool. It keeps water circulating, assists with filtration and powers your pool cleaner. As a result, it can account for 30 per cent of your household energy consumption. That’s a hefty chunk out of your weekly budget! The best way to counteract this is to upgrade to a variable speed pump.
Unlike single-speed pumps, which only operate at one speed, variable speed pumps maintain lower speeds and run over a longer period of time, saving up to 90 per cent of energy. In addition, when pool water circulates slowly, it's easier for your filter to capture particles, resulting in clearer water that requires fewer chemicals and less cleaning.
Running your pump at night is one of the best ways to lower pool costs. Energy providers charge off-peak rates at night (unless you have a single rate meter – check with your provider), which can save you hundreds on energy costs each year. To take advantage of these rates, program your pump to run between 10 pm and 7 am for 8–10 hours in peak periods and 4–6 hours the rest of the year.
Pro tip: Make sure you check the Energy Star rating of your variable speed pump. The higher the rating, the more energy-efficient it’ll be. A rating of 8 or above will maximise savings and reduce carbon emissions.
If you’re using a cover, your pool will retain much of the sun’s heat. But if you want to ramp things up in winter, consider installing a solar pool heater. Upfront costs are high compared to electric or gas heating (solar could put you back about $3000– $6000), but it’ll cost you less than a dollar a day to run, and you’re likely to recover your set-up costs in 3–7 years.
Solar heating works by pumping water to a solar collector on your roof, where it’s heated by the sun’s energy before it returns to your pool. Some systems have a sensor that diverts the water away from the collector if the temperature is the same or higher than the collector, providing further savings. (The image on the left illustrates how it works)
Solar heating systems can operate independently or integrate into your existing filtration system. They also have a life expectancy of 20–30 years, which is much longer than most pool heating systems. If you want to know more about how solar compares to other heating systems, see this article.
Pro Tip: The effectiveness of a solar pool heater depends on a few factors, like the construction of your roof (including its materials), shading from nearby structures and the weather. Before you make a choice, seek advice to make sure solar heating will work for your pool.
When you don’t clean or backwash your filter, debris builds up, and your pool pump has to work twice as hard. This can use up a lot of energy and result in high electricity bills. To avoid this, rinse your filter cartridge every few weeks, or backwash monthly if you’ve got a media filter. Also, check for any issues or damage that might affect your filter’s performance and correct them as necessary.
Keeping your pool water balanced should be part of your weekly pool care routine. When water chemistry is out of whack, your pool can end up with algae blooms, calcium deposits or surface erosion. This means you have to use more chlorine, algaecides and scale remover to correct the problem, as well as run your pump and pool cleaner afterwards.
To avoid this, monitor your chemistry levels and adjust them as soon as you see a change. If you’re short on time, consider installing a chemical dosing system. This will keep your sanitiser and pH levels within the correct range and prevent wastage.
While pools look stunning when they’re lit up at night, they can hike up your electricity bill, particularly when you forget to turn them off. Limit pool lights to when you’re swimming or having an evening pool party. If you can’t live without them, consider upgrading to energy-saving LED pool lights and automating your pool lights.
Your regular filter pump for use with hydraulic cleaners needs more than 1,000W or 1kWH to run. If you want an alternative that takes half the time to clean and uses a fraction of the energy, consider a robotic cleaner. The average wattage of the automatic pool cleaners is 180W. That’s a massive 82% less power consumption!
These nifty robots have advanced filters and cyclonic suction that pick up fine debris like dust, algae and bacteria. This means fewer chemicals and less work for your pump and filter.
Another advantage of robotic pool cleaners is that they usually come with a setting for programming your preferred cleaning schedules. There are even those very smart robots that have the ability to calculate your pool size and automatically program themselves to minimize the running time and for the most effective cleaning patterns.
Automated pool systems such as Halo can control your pool’s essential functions – including your chlorinator, pool pump, heating, and lighting. Smart tech can help reduce your energy bills by eliminating excess usage due to accidentally leaving your pump running too long or forgetting to turn off the lights. When you can control your equipment to shut off and on only as needed, you are using way less energy, and your wallet will thank you for it.
Did you know that topping up your pool with rainwater can save you thousands of litres of water every year? But we’re not talking about rain that falls into your pool (this can introduce dirt and algae spores, which you don’t want!). We’re talking about water from your rainwater tank.
If your pool water level is going down because of backwashing, evaporation or splashing tank water is a great way to replenish it – and save money.
If you don’t have a tank, consider buying one that matches your budget, pool size and needs. While upfront costs are high, a tank can minimise running costs and reduce pressure on your water supply, particularly if you live in a drought-prone area.
Another way of lowering pool costs is by using chlorine tablets. Not only do they have a higher concentration of chlorine, which is released gradually over time, but they also contain cyanuric acid (CYA), which provides UV protection and keeps your pool sanitised for longer. What’s more, tablets can last up to five years (allowing you to bulk-buy when they’re discounted), while unstabilised liquid chlorine can degrade by 50 per cent in six months – or sooner if it isn’t stored properly. So even though it’s cheaper, you’ll have to buy to sanitise your pool effectively.
If you’re using sand in your media filter, consider switching to glass media. Unlike sand, which can only filter about 20–40 microns, glass can filter particles as small as 5 microns. This results in clearer water that requires less cleaning or balancing. Plus, glass filter media only needs to be backwashed every 2–3 months – and for much shorter periods. Not only does this cut down on maintenance time, but it also saves you hundreds of litres of water every year!
Another benefit of glass media is that it has a longer shelf life. While sand needs to be changed every 5 years (and cartridge filters need to be replaced every 2–3 years), glass only needs to be changed every 8–10 years, reducing running costs further.
Do you pay someone to clean your pool? Depending on your pool’s size and where you live, a monthly service could cost you around $1,000 per year – and that’s before chemical costs or repairs. While it’s reassuring to know that a pool professional is keeping your pool sanitised and running smoothly, doing it yourself could save you money – and give you a feeling of pride about your pool.
To maintain your pool like a pro, start a pool maintenance schedule and use our expert guides to tackle issues like how to add chemicals to your pool or restore a pool after a storm. But remember to always contact your local pool shop for issues you can't handle on your own.
There are plenty of ways to reduce pool operating costs without compromising on pool care. It could be as simple as using a pool cover and running your pump at night. Or it could be more involved, like switching to a variable speed pump, upgrading to glass media or using a rainwater tank to top up your pool water. But don’t limit yourself to just one or two strategies. The more you try, the more you save! If you enjoyed this article, check out our Pool and Spa Guides for more pool tips.