The amount of energy required to keep an inground pool heated to a comfortable temperature is positively shocking. One popular way people are saving money on inground pool costs is by using a solar pool heater. Solar power isn’t always the most cost effective option for home energy needs, but when it comes to heating pools, it really shines (no pun intended).
How it Works
Solar pool heaters are relatively simple mechanisms. In fact, if you’re good at building things, you may be able to install one yourself – or if you’re really ambitious, even attempt to make your own homemade solar pool heater. However, for the rest of us mere mortals, professional installation from a contractor experienced with solar heaters is the way to go.
The pump you already use for filtering your pool circulates water though the solar collector, where it is heated before being returned to the pool. If you also have a conventional pool heater, the water can be passed through it for additional heating. This setup is pretty slick, as it ensures the desired pool temperature while using the minimum amount of energy.
The cost of solar pool heaters has been dropping as manufacturers come up with cheaper and more efficient means of production. The exact price varies based on the type of materials you need. If you only plan to use your pool when temperatures are above freezing, then you can buy a system with less expensive materials. Systems designed for year-round use are more expensive.
The initial price tag of a solar pool heater is often competitive with conventional heaters – and of course, they save you money over time. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that a typical solar powered pool heater pays for itself in as little as 18 months. And because of the simplicity of these systems, they usually last longer than other inground pool heaters.
To top it all off, you may be eligible for a rebate or tax credit if you buy an energy efficient pool heater. Check with your city and state to find out what programs you might qualify for.
The Bottom Line
It’s important to note that using a solar pool heater isn’t the only way to save money on pool heating. In fact, by far the easiest and cheapest way to keep your electric bill under control is to use an inground pool cover to insulate your water from the cooling effect of circulating air. An even more straightforward method is to simply get used to swimming in cooler water. Most pools are maintained at between 78 and 82 degrees – but whether you fall on the upper end of that range or the lower end can have a huge impact on your utility bill.
If you do decide to get a solar pool heater, shop around to find the best deal – and as always, look for a warranty to protect your investment. Ideally, you will have it installed by the contractors who are building your inground pool so it can be seamlessly integrated into the environment. Otherwise – unless you’re confident in your own ability to install the system – find a competent professional to do the job for you.