On hot summer days a refreshing dip in the pool sounds heavenly, but the weather doesn’t always cooperate and what could be a refreshing pool day, might be a tad chilly.
Heating a swimming pool is a must for those who want to get more out of their pools – but it’s not free. The cost to run a gas heater can be hefty, if you’re not careful.
Don’t be discouraged by a cool pool, you spent all the time and money installing it – you might as well enjoy it! Here are some swimming pool heating tips to keep a little jingle in your pocket.
Before we get to ways to save on pool heating costs, let’s start with a comparison of pool heater types. In order of most expensive to operate, swimming pool heaters include: Gas pool heaters, heat pump pool heaters and solar pool heaters.
Gas Pool Heaters
Gas pool heaters are a very popular heating system for swimming pools. Natural gas or propane is used for these systems. New pool heater technology makes gas heaters more efficient than older models, however, they are not the most energy efficient option available.
Gas heaters work like this – your pool pump circulates the pool water through a copper finned heat exchanger. Flames from the burner tray heats the air in the combustion chamber, warming the water as it flows through the 8 or 9 copper tubes.
Is a Gas Pool Heater Right for You?
Gas heaters heat pools quickly, and are most efficient with short periods of use. Thus, they are a practical choice for pools not used on a regular basis. A bonus about gas pool heaters is they can maintain desired temperatures despite the climate, whereas heat pumps and solar pool heaters require warm air temps or bright sunshine.
Selecting a Gas Pool Heater
When selecting a gas pool heater consider the temperature rise you are looking for – 10, 20, 30 degrees? The surface area of the swimming pool is often used to size a gas pool heater. Other factors to consider include: whether or not a cover will be used, wind exposure, and amount of daily sunlight. If you are hesitant about finding the proper size heater for your pool, our tech support personnel are standing by for your call!
Heat Pump Swimming Pool Heaters
Heat pumps don’t generate heat like gas pool heaters. Electricity is used to move heat from one place to another. The water passes into the heat pump, as your pool pump circulates the water. The compressor creates a hot gas that passes through the condenser and is circulated through the heater. Finally, the heated water is released to the pool.
Heat pump pool heaters need temperatures of at least 50 degrees F to operate. The cooler the air is, the more energy a heat pump will have to expend to draw heat out of the air. Heat pumps are also slower to heat than gas or even solar, taking several days to heat up an inground pool, but once outside air temps reach the mid-60’s, it can maintain the temperature easily.
Buying a Heat Pump Pool Heater
Normally heat pump pool heaters last a lot longer than gas pool heaters. However, heat pump pool heaters are a little more on the pricey side. You also may need an electrician to hook up the power. On the plus side, the annual operating cost is lower due to higher efficiencies, about 1/5 the cost of gas heaters.
Solar Swimming Pool Heaters
Solar pool heating is the most cost effective scenario in various climates. Not only is there a no annual operating cost, but purchase and installation is low cost as well. A fully automated inground pool system can be comparable in cost, if not less, than a gas pool heater. They are almost zero maintenance systems, with 10-15 year warranties.
Solar pool heaters can add another month on each end of your swim season, plus keep the pool warm all summer long, even with several days of foul weather each week. They can be roof mounted, fence mounted, rack mounted, or even just laid on the ground.
How Solar Pool Heaters Work
Solar pool heating systems are simply black tubes that absorb the sun. When the thermostat senses bright sun, it opens an automatic valve that sends water into the solar panels. From there, water absorbs the heat and is pumped back to the pool. A bonus feature about solar pool heating systems is the collectors can be used during the hot summer months to cool down the pool by circulating water through the collectors at night.
Pool Heating Energy Saving Tips
Here they are, as promised! Tips for heating your pool on the cheap!
- Using a solar cover is one of the best ways to reduce pool heating costs.
- Turn the dial down by 2-4 degrees if the pool is not used for 2-3 days.
- Turning the dial all the way up doesn’t make it heat faster, and you may forget!
- Liquid solar cover is the easy way to retain the heat from your pool heater.
- Create wind blocks around your pool, and maximize sun exposure.
- Install a few solar panels, and use gas heat as a back-up pool heater.
In summary, to reduce swimming pool heating costs and save money in the long run, replace or supplement a gas pool heaters with a quiet, zero-emission and low maintenance pool heat pump or solar pool heater.
No matter what type of pool heater you have, or even if you have no heater at all – taking steps to gain heat from the sun and curb heat loss from the surface is something anyone can do!
With all the money you save, you can afford to splurge on some fun pool toys!
InTheSwim Staff Blogger