Swim and save all summer long

Swimming pools and spas are known for water, but the truth is they are not very energy efficient. A typical backyard swimming pool uses as much energy during the summer months as the rest of your house does over that same period.

The good news is that with a few simple changes, you can save energy and money all summer long while still enjoying your favorite summertime activity.

Here are five ways you can significantly reduce the costs of heating and maintaining your pool:

Upgrade your old single-speed pump to a multi-speed pump. Your old, power-hungry single-speed pool pump is probably running up your electric bill. By upgrading to a two-speed or variable-speed pump, you can save between 25 and 60 percent on your energy costs. Also, try to not run your pool pump more than six hours a day; the extra running time is usually just a waste of energy.

Set your pool heater to a constant 78 degrees, and you will use about 40 percent less energy than if you were to set it at 82 degrees. You will still be comfortable, and even better you will save money every month.

Cover your pool when it’s not in use. A good pool cover keeps water temperatures about 10 degrees higher and reduces evaporation of water and chemicals by about 70 percent. Your pool will stay warmer and cleaner while you minimize energy use and equipment wear.

Consider planting trees, bushes and shrubs around your pool that don’t impede vision and don’t “shed.” These green assets will reduce wind and surface area heat loss, and, because they don’t drop leaves or flowers in your pool, you will save money on cleaning, too.

Consult a professional. While it’s tempting to save money in the short term, you’re not always best served by maintaining your pool yourself. Without proper knowledge and experience with pool equipment and chemicals, you may have to replace equipment more often, and you risk structural failures such as cracked pool shells, which can be very expensive to replace. If you’re not sure how to handle a pool issue, talk to a pro.

Keeping a spa heated at all times can also use a significant amount of energy. If your spa is always on, consider the following tips:

Lower the temperature by about 3 degrees. This can save 5 to 10 percent in heating costs.

Run the air jets only when using the spa. The cooling effect of the air bubbles counteracts the energy used to heat the water.

Keep the spa covered until you’re ready to use it. An uncovered spa is costing you energy and money every minute.

Add a floating thermal blanket to the rigid cover used with most spas. The added layer conserves heat and reduces evaporation.

Following these few suggestions for pools and spas can keep you having fun in the sun all summer long while saving money and energy.

For more energy efficiency tips, visit Conway Corporation’s website at conwaycorp.com and click on the Energy Smart quick link.