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Make a splash by being energy efficient with your pool or spa

Florida building code change will lead to lower electric bills for pool and spa owners

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (April 26, 2012) More than 1 million residential swimming pool owners around the state need to know that a new law requires pool pumps to be more energy-efficient. Florida's new building code bans the sale and professional installation of single-speed pumps for any owner using models of one horsepower or greater, which most pool owners typically use. Pool stores and product vendors will sell two-speed, or multispeed, pool pumps, which use much less energy. The code allows an old pump to be used until it no longer operates. Pump replacements must be energy-efficient upgrades unless the original pump is still under the original manufacturer's warranty.

While the code change will lead to energy efficiency, there are other ways to stop that drain on your wallet as you enjoy your pool or spa.

"Pool and spa owners can make small adjustments that will create a ripple effect for big energy savings," says Kim Berghoefer, a Progress Energy Florida energy-efficiency expert. "Most of these tips cost the homeowner nothing and help them save hundreds of dollars each year on their electric bills. Investing in energy-efficient pool upgrades can also be very cost effective."

Heating and filtering a pool or spa can become a home's top energy use, driving electric bills up. Progress Energy Florida suggests pool-owning customers learn how to minimize energy use and maximize cost savings. Here are just a few energy-efficient and money-saving tips:

New pumps: New energy requirements for pool pumps save money! Everyone wins with energy efficiency. National and state regulations require new pool pumps be two-speed or variable-speed. These pumps deliver immediate 75 to 90 percent savings on your electric bill.

  • Variable-speed pumps can run at a lower speed but retain the same or better cleaning/sanitation by running for longer periods of time.
  • Lower speeds reduce energy use to 1/4 of what it was, despite the increased run time.
  • Lower speed also means less noise from the pump.
  • High speed is still available for occasional needs such as spa therapy jets, pool cleaners or water features.

Reduce pump cycles: Decrease the length or frequency of pool pump operating cycles to the minimum number of hours necessary for pool cleanliness to save electricity and extend the pump's life. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends running the pump 4 to 6 hours each day in the summer and 3 hours each day in the winter, which will reduce the pool's annual electric consumption by about 60 percent. If the water becomes cloudy, increase the operating time in half-hour increments until clear. If you use a pool maintenance service, consult them about reducing the filtration time.

Use a pool cover:  About 70 percent of pool heat loss is caused by evaporation. Solar covers, left on the pool, absorb the sun's rays during the heat of the day and prevent heat loss at night. A cover will also help limit the amount of debris in the pool, which can reduce the need for additional filtration cycles.

Monitor pool temperature: Maintaining a pool temperature of 78 degrees will help you conserve energy and lower your electric bills. Reducing the temperature just a few degrees can save hundreds of dollars a year. For example, if you reduce the pool's temperature from 80 degrees to 78 degrees, you can save more than $350 per year in electric costs. If you previously kept your pool at 82 degrees, you could save more than $750 each year. When pools are only used on weekends, lower the temperature 8 to 10 degrees during the week, then reset the thermostat a few hours before jumping in to benefit from substantial savings.

Limit the use of water features: Fountains, water slides and other "bells and whistles" can increase a homeowner's enjoyment but increase their electric bill if these features run constantly. To save money on electricity and water due to evaporation, Progress Energy advises pool owners to operate extra features only when they're around the pool.

Limit lighting: Decorative lighting in and around your pool can add beauty but also increase cost. It's smart to go with an efficient option. LED lights use 75 to 80 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent.

Do regular maintenance: Follow a regular program of preventive maintenance on your pool pump and backwash or clean the filter per the manufacturer's instructions. Regularly remove leaves and debris from the strainer baskets in the pump and skimmer. Keep the intake grates clear for smooth water flow. Clogged drains can make the pump work harder and use more energy.

Select the best heater for your pool: If you need a new heater or are building a pool, carefully research different types of pool heaters and the estimated cost to run them. A variety of energy-efficient options include heat pumps and solar systems. Replacing an electric pool heater with a solar system can save a thousand dollars a year or more in electric costs - paying for it in just a few years.

Remember the spa: Spas can use a lot of electricity for heating, filtration and jets. In fact, spas can use more than twice the energy consumed by a household refrigerator, making it one of the most power-hungry items in a home. Follow these tips to help minimize the spa's electric use and save:

  • Heat your spa only when you plan to use it. If you use your spa once a week, lowering the temperature 3 degrees when not in use will save you approximately 5 to 10 percent of your spa heating costs. If you use the spa less often, your savings could be even greater.
  • Cover your spa when it is not in use to reduce heat loss.
  • Turn off the jets when the spa is not in use. The mixture of water and air is great for relaxing muscles, but it cools the water quickly.
  • Run the filter pumps according to the installer's minimum recommended daily time.

There are hundreds of ways to save power around the home. Contact Progress Energy Florida for a no-hassle, no-cost Home Energy Check. Through the Progress Energy service - which can be performed online, over the phone or in person - a highly trained Energy Advisor will do all the work for you and provide customized, energy-saving advice and determine your eligibility for company rebates toward energy-efficient home improvements. A Home Energy Check is a prerequisite for all Progress Energy rebates for energy-efficient home improvements.

To sign up for a no-cost Home Energy Check or to learn more than 100 energy-saving tips, visit or call 1.877.364.9003.

Progress Energy Florida, a subsidiary of Progress Energy (NYSE: PGN), provides electricity and related services to more than 1.6 million customers in Florida. The company is headquartered in St. Petersburg, Fla., and serves a territory encompassing more than 20,000 square miles including the cities of St. Petersburg and Clearwater, as well as the Central Florida area surrounding Orlando. Progress Energy Florida is pursuing a balanced approach to meet the future energy needs of the region. That balance includes increased energy-efficiency programs, investments in renewable energy technologies and a state-of-the-art electricity system. For more information about Progress Energy, visit

Media contact: Progress Energy Florida 24-hour media line (866) 520-6397

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