Comparing Pool Heaters for Inground Pools

Gunite Pool Cost

Heating your swimming pool is a great way to make the water more inviting and extend the swimming season. Keeping your pool  at a comfortable temperature can be expensive, but with some planning and common sense, it’s possible to drastically reduce energy costs.

When evaluating pool heaters for inground pools, it’s essential to consider the ongoing cost of operation in addition to the initial price tag.

There are three types of swimming pool heaters to choose from – gas, electric, and solar. Each offers its own strengths and weaknesses, particularly in the area of energy efficiency. Which one you choose could have a major impact on your heating bills.

Gas Pool Heaters

Gas heaters are the most popular option among pool owners, most likely because of their reliability. Unlike the other two options, gas heaters generate their own heat and thus can be counted on to do the job no matter what the conditions are outside.

Gas-fired heaters are also the fastest working, making them ideal for pools that aren’t used continuously throughout the swimming season. On the downside, they are the most expensive heaters to operate, as they require a regular supply of propane or natural gas.

Electric (Heat Pump) Pool Heaters

Electric, or heat pump, pool heaters are more energy efficient than gas heaters. Rather than creating the heat themselves, they take it from the air and use it to warm your pool’s water. While the heat transfer mechanism requires some electricity, the amount of energy used is minimal in comparison to the amount of water heating being done.

As you might expect, these heaters don’t work as well in cooler temperatures – so they won’t necessarily help extend the swimming season. Also, they generally cost more initially, though they can easily pay for themselves over time.

How a heat pump pool heater works
How a heat pump pool heater works (image courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy)

Solar Pool Heating

Another energy efficient option that can save you money is a solar pool heater. With this type of system, your pool pump sends water through solar collectors that warm it using sunlight. Solar pool heaters vary a lot in price, but like heat pumps, often save you money in the long run.

The disadvantage of these systems is that they often can’t heat your pool to the desired temperature, and they certainly can’t do it fast.

On the bright side, they can be combined with other pool heaters, warming the water as much as possible before passing it into a conventional heater that can then only use the amount of energy needed to finish the job.

General Tips for Saving Money on Pool Heating

As you can see, pool heaters for inground pools can keep your pool comfortable without using a ton of energy.

However, there are things you can do to conserve even more. One is to use an inground pool cover, a blanket that sits on your pool when it’s not in use and insulates it from the cooling effect of air. Then there are commonsense practices, like keeping your pool at the minimum comfortable temperature and turning your heater off when the pool won’t be in use for a long time.