Having a pool at home to beat the Florida summer heat is practically a necessity, but could your monthly maintenance bills be unnecessarily draining your bank account?
Chances are the answer is yes if you are not using an energy-efficient pool pump, which is why Florida lawmakers passed legislation to require pool owners to dump old power-wasting models for newer ones this summer.
A statewide law is scheduled to go in effect on July 1 that will ban the sale and professional installation of old-school single-speed pumps for any owner using models of one horsepower or greater, which are most typically used by pool owners. In their place, pool stores and product vendors will sell what are called two-speed or multispeed pool pumps, which use much less energy.
n energy bill passed by lawmakers last month could delay the pool pump deadline until December 31 to coincide with the 2010 Florida Building Code in order to provide better enforcement. The bill is expected to be sent to Gov. Rick Scott for his signature or veto this month. If he does nothing, it will become law.
It will be OK to use an old pump until it dies out. You will have to upgrade to an energy-efficient one when replacing the old one unless it is still under the original manufacturer’s warranty.
The new law will apply to both residential pools and in-ground spas using pumps or motors of one horsepower or greater, but not portable spas.
The downside: A one-horsepower pump and motor can cost about $150 or more, not including installation, while the price for newer models can start at about $700. The upside: The old pumps can cost $2 or more per day to run for the recommended eight hours a day - depending on the size of your pool, how long you run the pump and how well it works - while the newer pumps can be as low as 40 to 50 cents a day, say experts.
“Those figures sound about right,” said Wendy Parker, executive director of the Florida Swimming Pool Association. “In a state where swimming pools are in almost every backyard, we obviously want people to be aware of their pool pump energy use. These new models are designed to use much less power each day and will pay for themselves over time.”
Because the age and condition of your pool and its pump and water circulation system can vary, it may be a good idea to have a professional visit your home to check on how efficiently it is running, Parker said.
“Should the governor extend the deadline, it will be good because it will give people more time to understand the new requirements and prepare,” Parker said. She also said that consumers should not feel as if they have to wait for the law to take effect if they want to start saving on monthly energy bills now.
To get an idea of how much your old-style pool pump is costing you on a monthly basis, check out the Florida Power & Light website at http://www.fpl.com, place your cursor on the tab “My Home” and click on “Appliance Guide” and then “Pools & Spas.” You can select the horsepower of your pump and the number of hours you run it per day (running the pump keeps water circulating and clean).
At my home we use a one-horsepower pump and run it for eight hours a day, which the site shows is costing us about $41 a month — or $492 a year. That amount could drop to a little more than $100 a year with a more efficient pump.
Major well-known manufacturers include Pentair, Jandy, Hayward and Zodiac. Parker recommends seeking the help of a local licensed contractor.
To find a member from Broward, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Orange counties of the Florida Swimming Pool Association — all of whom are properly licensed and insured — go to the group’s website at http://www.floridapoolpro.com or call 941-952-9293.
To find a licensed contractor, experts recommend:
Ask a friend or neighbor for a recommendation. Get estimates for monthly maintenance service or repairs from at least three companies.
Any pool company that does work beyond regular water treatment — including refinishing, repaving and pump replacement — is required to have a state license. You can check whether a company has a valid license and a consumer complaint history by visiting http://www.myfloridalicense.com and typing in the name of an owner, company or license number. You may also call 850-487-1395.