Arizona has a new set of energy standards for the pool and spa industry.

The Pool Pump and Portable Spa Energy Efficiency Standards will go into effect Jan. 1, 2012, and will require two-speed, multi-speed, or variable-speed pumps on all residential installations with a pump size more than 1hp. It also mandates that the standby power on portable electric spas falls beneath a certain measurement, which is calculated according to the spa’s gallonage.

The standards do not require homeowners to replace single-speed units immediately, but mandate that all new and replacement installations installed after Jan. 1, 2012, must fit the requirements.

“I think this is going to be an excellent thing for the state,” said Rick Chafey, owner of Red Rock Pools in Gilbert, Ariz. “Hopefully, it’ll mean more people in the industry become properly educated about hydraulics and pump sizing. Once that starts to change, they’ll begin to recognize the benefits these pumps bring.”

In passing these standards, Arizona is following the lead of several other states, including California and Florida. These states adopted energy standards for various types of buildings and appliances — pool pumps and motors among them — and lobbyists in other areas of the country soon took notice.

Arizona’s journey toward energy legislation started picking up speed in 2005 when the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, a regional energy advocacy group, began working with State Rep. Lucy Mason (R-Dist. 1). The standards they advocated became part of a bill that was voted into law. Since then, SWEEP and Mason have been pushing for more energy efficiency provisions.

“We have more pools and pumps than a lot of other states, and we estimated conservatively that [two-speed or variable-speed models] could save customers about $200 per installation,” said Jeff Schlegel, SWEEP’s Arizona representative.

For guidance on pool pump standards, SWEEP turned to Title 20 of the California Code of Regulations, which has been on that state’s books since January 2006. Like the Arizona legislation that followed it, Title 20 requires residential pumps to be either two-, multi- or variable-speed.

In the four years since Title 20’s passage, the number of pools with multi- or variable-speed pumps has increased significantly. But an exact percentage is impossible to measure because the state depends on customers and service technicians to alert the proper agencies when a violation is discovered.

“I don’t disagree with the concept of Title 20 at all, but there are problems with enforcement,” said Jerry Wallace, owner of Swim Chem in Sacramento, Calif. “There’s no policing of the law. So it pretty much comes down to the honor system.”

This means that even in California, some service technicians continue to install single-speed pumps for customers who want to save money on the unit.

Arizona’s standards will depend on the same sort of “honor system” as California’s, which means that if techs in that state want to be compliant, industry organizations will need to make education a higher priority than ever.

“We need to make sure everyone’s aware of these requirements,” said Kurt Schuster, president of IPSSA’s Region 8. “From now on, we’re going to have to be compliant.”