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Swimming pools, spas and pool pumps
Swimming pools and spas are great for cooling off on a summer's day. They're also big energy and water guzzlers. In fact, for a typical home, maintaining an in-ground pool can account for up to 30% of a household's energy bills and a pool pump can be the largest user of electricity in a home—sometimes using more energy than your washing machine, clothes dryer and dishwasher combined.
The main use of energy is for pumping water through the filter to keep your pool water clean and safe. Heating your pool, cleaning appliances, pool lights and chlorine or saltwater sanitation treatment systems all require additional energy. How you use and maintain your equipment will also contribute to your energy consumption and costs. Swimming pools feature in 12% of Australian households so smart management will make a big difference to reducing household energy and water use.
Remember, it's your responsibility to ensure your home pool or spa is safe for everyone and minimises the risk of young children drowning. Ensure your pool and spa complies with safety and fencing regulations in your state or territory, and carry out regular checks to minimise the risk of accidents.
The Royal Life Saving Society Make it Safe – Portable Pool Safety campaign has translated fact sheets in Arabic, Greek, Italian, Traditional Chinese and Vietnamese. The fact sheets contain questions and answers with an easy to use checklist.
In a pool or spa, the pump is the biggest user of electricity. Choosing the right pool pump will save you money and maintain pool hygiene. Start by choosing the most energy-efficient pump for your pool or spa's needs. A pool or spa expert can help you work out if your pump is inefficient or incorrectly sized.
Use the product information or voluntary rating label where possible to choose an energy-efficient pump. Bigger is not always better. Install the lowest wattage pump possible for your pool. Multi-speed and variable-speed pumps are often more efficient and use less energy than single-speed pumps as they can operate at a lower speed for filtration and a higher speed for pool cleaning equipment.
Once you have the right pool pump for your needs, minimise energy use by not running it unnecessarily. Running costs can add up over time so take some time to work out your needs. Read the manufacturer's instructions carefully and don't compromise on safety. For best results check with your local pool or spa specialist to ensure you maximise energy efficiency while still meeting all health requirements. A timer is very useful for managing your pump's run-time and for saving energy. The type of filter you use in conjunction with your pump will also impact on your energy costs.
By making sure your pool or spa is well maintained you'll be able to keep your pool and spa crystal clear and your energy costs down. For example, by minimising evaporation you can save water and reduce the need for heating. A good quality, well-fitting pool cover or blanket, and if you live in high humidity area a shade cloth, can help reduce evaporation. Choose energy-efficient lights for lighting pool areas. Follow our using and maintaining tips to reduce the overall environmental impacts of your pool or spa, including water and chemical use.
Spa baths and outdoor spa pools can also be high energy users depending on their size and how they're used and maintained. Spa baths are more like a large bath and generally installed in bathrooms. Spa pools or hot tubs are for outdoor use, are usually designed to hold more people and use an average of 1,000–2,000 litres of water to fill.
For spa baths the water is heated by the household hot water system. Some models have an additional heater to keep the water warm. The majority of the energy costs come from the pump which is used to power the high pressure water jets. You can reduce your energy use by choosing an efficient spa pump, using your spa pump efficiently, and using and maintaining you spa efficiently.
For spa pools, the main sources of energy use and costs are from heating the water as well as the power for pumping the water through the spray nozzles. The water is normally heated to between 34 and 38°C. Spa pools either have an internal heater or use the household hot water system. Running costs vary depending on which method is used, how often the spa is used and how much water evaporates.
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