Cover Pool Specialists

If you’ve shopped for a refrigerator, washing machine, or just about any other home appliance in recent years, you’re probably quite familiar with Energy Star, the federal program that designates energy-efficient products and more.

But now Energy Star would like to join your backyard pool party.

In February, the government released the first-ever Energy Star specs for pool pumps, which will offer pool owners a new way to save energy and money on their backyard investment. So far, three manufacturers (Hayward Pool Products, Pentair Aquatic Systems and Zodiac Pool Systems) offer Energy Star-certified pumps, which are considerably more efficient than standard pool pumps and promise to save pool owners an average of $1,000 over the pump’s lifetime.

If you’re curious about whether it’s time to trade in your pool pump for an Energy Star qualified model, keep reading for answers to many common questions about these new pumps.

What makes a pool pump eligible for the Energy Star label?

They need to use significantly less energy than standard pumps, and those results must be based on independent laboratory testing. Currently, only multi-speed, variable speed, and dual-speed meet the requirements.

How do Energy Star qualified pumps save energy?

While standard pumps have just one speed, whether they’re being used for pool cleaning or pool filtration, Energy Star pumps have more than one speed and can run at slower rates during filtration. Filtration doesn’t require as high a flow-rate as pool cleaning does, which means pumps that drop down in speed for filtration can save energy while still being effective.

How much more efficient are these pumps?

Energy Star pumps are estimated to be 30 to 72 percent more energy efficient than standard pumps. In terms of technical performance, these new pumps must have an energy factor of 3.80 or higher, which is a number that represents the volume of water pumped (in gallons) per watt hour of electrical energy used by the pool pump’s motor. How much money will I save with an Energy Star qualified pump?

Currently, these new pumps are expected to save a pool owner an average of $160 per year, or $1,000 over the lifetime of the pump. Some suggest those estimates may be low; pool owners who live in warmer places where they use their pool year-round are projected to save more.

That doesn’t sound like enough to justify the cost.

You might want to consider it in terms of your overall home energy costs. According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the annual energy bill for a typical single-family home is $2,200. Certainly a backyard pool can push those energy costs above average, but the $2,200 annual figure does provide some perspective: Maybe an annual average $160 reduction in your utility bills isn’t such small potatoes after all.

Does my pool really use enough energy to justify an energy-efficient pump?

It just might. “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 worked with the EPA on the new pump program. Even energy efficiency experts were surprised to discover how much might be saved by using smarter pumps. “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,” Christopher Kent, the EPA product specification lead who coordinated the pool-pump program, said in 2012.

What’s the payback on a new Energy Star pool pump?

The EPA suggests that these new pumps could pay for themselves in three to five years, depending on usage and utility costs in your area.

What models of pumps are Energy Star qualified?

As of press time, those include Hayward’s EcoStar, EcoStar C, EcoStar SVRS, EcoStar C SVRS, Super Pump VS, and Max-Flo VS. At Pentair, the list of Energy Star qualified pumps includes the company’s line of variable-speed pumps: IntelliFlo i1, IntelliFlo, IntelliPro, IntelliFlo VF, IntelliFlo VS+SVRS, IntelliPro VS+SVRS, IntelliFloXF, and IntelliPro XF. Zodiac offers the Jandy FHPM 1.0-2, a multi-speed pump.