Pool owners will save $400 each year with consensus efficiency standards

Posted on by
Joanna Mauer

Yesterday the US Department of Energy (DOE) issued a direct final rule establishing the first-ever national energy efficiency standards for swimming pool pumps. Owners of in-ground pools will save about $400 each year with the new standards, which were recommended by a stakeholder working group.

There are more than 5 million in-ground pools and 3 million above-ground pools in the US. A typical pool pump can consume up to 6,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year, which is equivalent to about half the annual electricity consumption of an average US household. The new standards will cut the energy use of in-ground pool pumps by about 70%.

A working group, which included representatives from pool pump and motor manufacturers, state government, utilities, and energy efficiency advocates, was formed in 2015 to negotiate test procedures and efficiency standards for pool pumps. The working group made recommendations on test procedures in late 2015 and reached agreement on efficiency standards in July of this year. Yesterday’s final rule implements the working group recommendations.

The pool pumps standard is the largest energy-saving rule issued by DOE this year and is slightly larger than the rule for residential central air conditioners and heat pumps issued in early December, which was also consensus based. DOE estimates that on a national level, the standards for pool pumps will reduce electricity consumption by about 400 billion kWh over 30 years of sales, which is equivalent to the annual electricity use of more than 30 million US households. Over the same period consumers will save $11-24 billion.

The standards for in-ground pool pumps can be met by switching from single-speed to variable-speed pumps. Variable-speed pumps provide huge energy savings by being able to change their speed as needed, speeding up to clean the pool or slowing down and saving energy when filtering the water.

The new standards for pool pumps follow standards for commercial and industrial pumps that were finalized earlier this year and were also based on a negotiated agreement. Pumps covered by the commercial and industrial pump standards are used for a wide variety of applications such as pressure boosting in high-rise apartment buildings and irrigation.

The new standards for pool pumps will take effect in 2021.

Note: This new standard will not be officially final until published in the Federal Register. Most likely, final publication will be decided by the Trump administration.