Industry members, as well as the general public, are taking
exception to Arizona’s new pool and spa energy
In recent weeks, local talk shows and radio programs have hosted
impassioned debates on the state’s Pool Pump and Portable Spa
Energy Efficiency Standards, which will require two-speed,
multispeed or variable-speed pumps on all residential installations
with pump sizes more than 1hp.
“People think this legislation is ridiculous,” said
Paul Christopulos, owner of PC Pool Care in Scottsdale, Ariz.
“How can customers who can barely pay their mortgages afford
to spend $1,400 on a new pump? This is going to turn us and our
clients into criminals.”
The standards are scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, 2012.
Criticism of the legislation focuses mainly on two points: First,
the standards will require consumers to purchase pricey,
energy-efficient upgrades for any pumps they replace. Second, the
state appears to have very little enforcement planned, meaning
single-speed pumps still will be available for purchase, and
service technicians willing to skirt the law and install them are
likely to draw customers away from rule-abiding pool
This second complaint echoes similar resentment over Title 20 of
the California Code of Regulations, which has required residential
pumps in that state to be either two-, multi- or variable-speed
since 2006. Lack of Title 20 enforcement has allowed unscrupulous
California techs to undercut lawful job bids and gain market share,
according to some service professionals.
“When I talk to my counterparts in California, they tell me
that probably 80 to 85 percent of techs are still putting in
single-speed pumps despite Title 20 because there’s no
enforcement,” said Kurt Schuster, director of the Independent Pool & Spa Service Association’s Arizona/Nevada region.
Even so, supporters of pool energy legislation maintain that laws
of this nature benefit consumers and the industry in the long run.
“These regulations aren’t about forcing anyone to do
anything,” said Michael Orr, executive director of the
Sacramento, Calif.-based Foundation for Pool & Spa Industry Education.
“What they do is set up criteria for builders of new pools
and people who are retrofitting existing systems, telling them to
put in a pump that will pay them back through energy
Though critics of Arizona’s legislation acknowledge that
energy-efficient pumps are solid investments that also benefit the
environment, they don’t necessarily agree that these benefits
are as immediate as the law’s supporters claim.
“When you look at Arizona’s electricity costs and
examine how much this is actually going to save our consumers, the
math just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” Schuster
said. “And anyway, by that logic, why not start with air
conditioners? Those consume more electricity than pool pumps
In addition, pump upgrades often entail more than a straight swap,
Christopulos noted. “The reality just isn’t that
simple,” he said. “For instance, if the customer has an
old automation system, they have to pay to upgrade their entire
Still, proponents insist this kind of change is ultimately
beneficial, and inevitable. “We all have to live on this
planet together,” Orr said. “We need to work together,
and take some positive steps to maximize our energy savings.”