The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is planning to assign the well-known Energy Star designation to qualifying pool pumps.
EPA officials hope to make certification available as early as August 2012.
“The pool is commonly overlooked [in energy-efficiency
incentive programs],” said Jeff Farlow, program manager of
energy initiatives at Pentair Water Pool and Spa in Sanford, N.C.,
who has been working with the EPA to launch the program.
“This helps legitimize our product as a true energy
conservation means in the home.”
Farlow also expects the program will help pools shed the reputation
they have carried, at times, as energy hogs.
For a product category to qualify for the Energy Star program, it
must be able to deliver enough energy savings over time to allow
the consumer to recoup any higher upfront costs. Also, more than
one nonproprietary technology must be available.
The EPA explored such a program at the prompting of industry
members and utility companies, said Christopher Kent, the EPA
product specification lead charged with coordinating the pool-pump
program. “When we started really delving into some of the
saving opportunities, it blew us out of the water, so to speak ...
so it seemed to be a great opportunity,” he said.
At this stage, the EPA plans to include single-, multi- and
variable-speed models, though that may change as more data become
available. Though the intent is to focus on residential inground
pumps, some have asked that aboveground pool pumps also be
included, Farlow said.
The agency is not considering replacement motors, controllers or
pumps specifically designed for spas or commercial
Farlow hopes the Energy Star pump program will undergo development
through a “fast track process,” which shortens the
procedure to about six months, compared with the traditional 12 to
15. For this to happen, manufacturers must conduct testing and
provide data to the EPA to guide it in developing the program.
However, fewer producers than had been hoped supplied information
by the first deadline in January, Farlow said.
At this point, the EPA is preparing to release an initial draft of
the testing methods and parameters that may be required.
Manufacturers, utilities, environmental advocacy groups, test labs
and other stakeholders will comment, after which there likely will
be additional rounds of drafts.
The EPA is optimistic that those who sell pumps at the retail level
also will weigh in with opinions. Anyone interested in
participating may contact Christopher Kent at email@example.com.
Once the program has been launched, independent laboratories will
perform the certification. Though the parameters may be finalized
this summer, it isn’t known how quickly Energy Star pumps
will hit the marketplace. Turnaround depends on how well-equipped
the labs are to perform the specific tests, and how quickly
manufacturers have their products tested, labeled and
When all is said and done, Kent expects it to become easier for
consumers and more profitable for the industry to lower the energy
usage of pools.
“The Energy Star marker has a great consumer
understanding,” he said. “Without having to know the
details of the efficiency of that product, they can just look for
the label to distinguish what is more efficient from one product to
the next. It’s great for manufacturers as a selling point for