Use Solar Energy to Heat Your Hot Tub or Pool

Hot tubA swimming pool provides a refreshing retreat from steamy, sizzling summer weather and can also add beauty to your backyard. But the energy used to operate a pool or hot tub can account for more than one-half of a home’s total energy use, according to the Consortium for Energy Efficiency. In fact, it’s been estimated that the energy necessary to heat the country’s 5.7 million pools and hot tubs costs billions of dollars annually.

Environmental impact of heaters

While a swimming pool is a welcome addition to your home, environmental considerations should accompany the excitement. For example, pool chemicals are a very necessary means of keeping your pool or spa free of bacteria and algae. But you can still make your pool more eco-friendly by using eco-friendly products. There are alternatives to chlorine, for example, that may be less harmful to the environment. Enjoy a heated pool with a solar heating system.

Benefits of a solar heating system

A solar heating system helps the environment by using renewable energy. This means solar pool heaters will lower your energy costs, since they rely on free sources of energy in place of electricity or natural gas. Although you could pay as much as 50 percent more up-front, a solar heating system can pay for itself in as little as two years, depending on local utility rates, hot tub or pool equipment model and climate.

Initiating the switch to solar

If you are planning a new pool or hot tub installation, integrating a solar water heater shouldn’t be too difficult, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory says. The basic components of heater, pump, filter and plumbing apply, but with a solar system, the pool’s water is first pumped through the filter, followed by the solar energy collectors prior to going back to the pool. This means you may need to install a slightly larger pump with a pool, to adequately move the water. Another option is a second smaller pump to move water through the collectors. Your pool or spa installer should be able to advise on the best route for your particular circumstances.

Once installed, hot tub parts from HotTubWorks.com, efficient main drain parts or working filter parts from another reputable swimming pool supply company will make maintenance easy for any size pool.

Expected cost savings

Exact cost savings for switching your hot tub heating system to solar will depend on a number of factors, including local climate conditions, cost of alternative energy sources currently being used, and, of course, the particular efficiency of your hot tub model. As a rough estimate, if you live in an area that sees four distinct seasons, your hot tub is probably adding about $60-$90 to your monthly electric bill, though that can jump to around twice that in the coldest months. But using the average, you are looking at $720-$1,080 annually. Going solar could cover about 50 percent of your heating needs. Cost savings for a full-sized swimming pool should show a similar percentage savings.

Image used with permission via Flickr user The Inn at Key West.