The summer days are heating up in San Diego, which means it’s time to shimmy into your favorite swimsuit and enjoy your backyard pool! We San Diegans love our pools, and with good reason! What better way to relish our gorgeous weather than to lay out by the pool, float on a raft, or invite friends over for margaritas and cannonballs? However, owning a pool comes with a price. That includes both the price you’ll see on your electric bill and the environmental price of your energy-hungry feature. Residential solar in San Diego can help you lower your energy bill and your carbon footprint without giving up your relaxing outdoor oasis. Let’s look at what a pool is really costing you and how solar panels can help!
A Popular California Pastime
Do you absolutely love your background pool? We get it. Pools offer a perfect, screen-free activity for the kiddos, especially during the summer months when they’re out of school. A pool can also increase your status as the host-with-the-most when you hold family gatherings, invite the neighbors over for some BBQ, or just want to catch up with friends.
You are not alone. California is home to the most residential pools in the entire country. According to The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (yes, there really is an association for everything), roughly 1.23 million Californians own a residential pool. Another 1.12 million own hot tubs just for good measure.
All those pools and hot tubs require a lot of energy. No doubt you’ve noticed the big jump in your energy bills whenever you start up the water pump and heater. How much energy does your greedy pool require and what is that doing to your bottom line and to the environment?
An Energy Gobbler
All of your appliances and electrical products require energy, but your pool is a particularly hungry beast. Aside from your air conditioner, your pool is likely to be the biggest energy user in your home! The amount of energy your pool uses will depend on a variety of factors, including the size of your pool, the equipment you use, how actively you maintain it, and whether the pool is also heated.
Still, averages can be helpful. According to Think Progress, the average pool contains 20,000 gallons of water. It takes a lot of energy to filter and clean that much water and to keep it warm if you have a heat pump. ThinkProgress cites a study by Opower (which has since been purchased by Oracle) that found pool pumps can use up to 2,500 kilowatt hours (kWh) to circulate and filter water each year.
More recently, Canstar Blue, a consumer review site in Australia (where pools are almost a necessity during the sizzling summer down under), estimated that the average pool requires between 2,000 and 3,000 kWh of energy per year!
Just to put that number into a little perspective, running your clothes washer for two, hour-long loads per week will require just 26.5 kWh per year. A desktop computer running 10 hours every day of the year will only need 273.75 kWh per year. You could keep your LCD television on 24 hours a day, 365 days a year (though we don’t recommend it), and it would only take 1,314 kWh per year. That still pales in comparison to the amount of energy your pool is slurping away right now. (These numbers are brought to you by this nifty energy calculator from the U.S. Department of Energy.)
In other words, your pool is energy expensive, which means it’s also expensive when it comes to dollars and cents.
Are You Getting Soaked?
Your pool is an investment. All that water isn’t free. Neither is pool equipment, like the water pump, or the cleaning products you need to buy on a regular basis. If you hire someone or pay your kid to clean the pool each week, that’s just another big expense.
What you might not realize is that your pool is costing you in another way. If you’re wondering why your electric bills suddenly rocketed up the month after you turned the pool on, just glance into the backyard and you’ll have your culprit.
Pool manufacturer River Pools and Spas helpfully breaks out the monthly electrical costs of common pool systems:
- $30 – $50 for a two-speed or variable speed pump/filter system
- $75 – $150 for a one-speed pump
- $50 – $250 for a heat pump
- $100 – $300 for an in-ground hot tub
In a best-case scenario, if you don’t heat your pool, don’t have a hot tub, and have invested in a variable speed pump, you’re still looking at $360 to $600 a year just in electricity costs to maintain your pool. In a worst-case scenario, if you have a one-speed pump, a heat pump, and a cozy hot tub to complete your backyard empire, your energy costs could increase by as much as $8,400 a year!
That’s a pretty serious expense even a relaxing day by the pool might not be able to make you forgot. Of course, it’s also worth remembering that energy has a price beyond money. Your pool is also taking an environmental toll.
The Carbon Cost of Your Pool
Unless you’ve already invested in residential solar in San Diego, the energy needed to power your pool comes from a public utility company, like SDG&E. California and San Diego are doing a great job of getting more and more of their energy from renewable resources, especially solar, but a majority of it still comes from fossil fuels, like natural gas and coal. Turning these fossil fuels into energy releases carbon dioxide into the environment, which contributes to climate change.
Energy-hungry home features, like your pool, can play an outsized role in increasing your home’s carbon footprint. The Carbon Fund, which sells carbon offsets, calculates that every kilowatt hour of energy results creates roughly 1.22 pounds of CO2.
By this calculation, a pool that requires 2,000 to 3,000 kWh of energy per year will produce approximately 2,444 to 3,666 pounds of CO2 annually. Even on the low end, that’s more than a metric ton of CO2 released into the atmosphere each year.
If you care about fighting climate change, your pool may be undermining the hybrid car in your driveway, the low energy appliances installed throughout your home, and the other efforts you’ve made to lower your carbon footprint. Does this mean that it’s time to close your outdoor water sanctuary forever in order to rescue your budget and save the world (at least a little bit)?
Before you turn off that water pump and drain away your kids’ favorite summer activity, consider a few options that can lower or even eliminate the energy costs of your pool.
How to Lower the Energy Needs of Your Pool
There are a variety of ways to lower the energy your pool requires. Let’s start with the small changes:
Use a Pool Cover
One of the easiest and least expensive ways to save energy is to buy (and use!) a cover for your pool. A cover prevents water from evaporating, which will also help you conserve water – a big deal in drought-sensitive San Diego. Evaporation also leads to significant heat loss, which can force your heat pump to work overtime (and drink up more energy).
Buy a Variable Speed Pump
The majority of pools in the United States use a single speed pump. As its name implies, the single speed pump only has a single setting. Because it can’t be dialed up or down, it always operates at maximum capacity. Though single speed pumps are less expensive upfront, they require a huge amount of energy. You’ll save money and energy in the long run by paying a few hundred dollars more for a dual speed pump, or ideally, a variable speed pump, which uses the least amount of energy.
Maintain Your Pool Equipment
A clogged or poorly performing filter will force your pool’s pump to work harder than it needs to, which will increase its energy needs. Clean your filter regularly, assess your pool equipment, and make sure the water’s pH is balanced. If you have to hire a company to maintain your pool, it could be money well-spent if it keeps your energy bills down and your family safe.
These are the small updates you can make to lower the energy your pool requires, but if you want to go big and possibly eliminate the energy and environmental costs of your pool altogether, you only have one option – solar panels.
One More Reason to Consider Residential Solar in San Diego
If you are already considering solar panels as a way to eliminate your entire electric bill each month, then the high energy costs of your pool are just one more good reason to go solar. With the right sized solar system, you could save hundreds of dollars each month on your energy bills. In fact, the average solar panel system in San Diego pays for itself in just four to five years! After that, it’s savings all the way.
Don’t forget that you’ll be saving big in another way. By investing in the clean, renewable energy of the sun, you can help keep over a metric ton of CO2 out of the atmosphere each year, and that’s just for the energy needs of your pool. If you like to crank the air conditioning during the summer months or have an electric car to charge each day, you could lower your carbon footprint even more!
All of these reasons make residential solar in San Diego worth considering for pool owners and all homeowners in America’s Finest City. If your pool is humming and your electric bills are climbing, contact Semper Solaris today to schedule a free energy consultation.