As we pointed out in a previous article, the cost of maintaining a pool can vary tremendously depending on its size, materials, features, and overall design. However, that doesn’t mean all of your operating costs are set in stone the moment your pool is finished. While those “big picture” factors set the baseline for your monthly maintenance bill, there are a lot of smaller actions you can take to reduce the amount of money you pay each month for things like chemicals, water, and heating.
Many of these steps cost you little or no money upfront, while saving you a lot down the road. But much like sticking to a diet or a family budget, they do require a little day-to-day discipline. The more consistent you are about keeping your pool maintenance costs down, the more successful you’re likely to be.
1. Use a pool cover
A pool cover is a relatively small investment that can potentially pay for itself many times over in reduced energy costs. By slowing down the rate of evaporation, a cover keeps your pool naturally warmer so your heater doesn’t have to work as hard. For more energy savings, you can get a solar pool cover that’s designed to trap the sun’s rays.
2. Keep on top of things
The worst thing you can do to save money on pool maintenance is to simply not do it. If you don’t maintain proper chemical balance, for example, you could find yourself facing an algae problem that will be much more expensive to fix in the long run. Also, failing to clean your pool regularly could cause the pump and filter to run less efficiently.
3. Turn off water features when you’re not using the pool
Features such as waterfalls and deck jets use energy to run and typically lead to more evaporation and water cooling. For many people, a key benefit of these features is the ambient sound they produce even when the pool isn’t in use. However, flipping them off as much as possible (especially when you’re not at home) is a sure-fire way to save energy.
4. Don’t run your filter any more than necessary
Many people choose to run their pool filter 24 hours a day. Others only run it a few hours a day. With a little experimentation, you can pinpoint the minimum amount of time you need to run your filter while still keeping the pool clean. Be sure to check with your electric company to see if you can save money by running it at non-peak hours.
5. Use an energy efficient pump
Conventional pool pumps run at one speed, wasting energy on low-intensity tasks like filtration. Installing a variable speed pump can save you over a thousand dollars over the lifetime of the pump. Depending on the state you live in, you may also qualify for an energy rebate.
6. Don’t over-clean
Everyone wants a clean pool, but letting the automatic cleaner run endlessly or applying unneeded chemicals doesn’t do anything except waste money. It pays to learn exactly what resources you need to keep your pool in tiptop shape.
7. Turn the temperature down
Using a heater isn’t a bad idea if it means you can get more use out of your pool. Just know that you pay a premium for every degree you raise the water temperature. While you might like the idea of swimming in bath water, you can save a lot of money by keeping your pool as cool as possible (while still being comfortable). Also, it goes without saying that you should keep the heat turned down when the pool isn’t in use.
8. Create the right environment for your pool
You might not be able to relocate your pool after it’s been installed, but you can change its surroundings in a way that could allow it to operate more efficiently. For example, erecting a wind barrier can reduce water evaporation, which in turn saves on heating costs. Or, if your pool is too shady, removing a tree could solve the problem without cranking up the heater.