There’s nothing worse than jumping into an ice cold pool…except, perhaps, paying to heat it. If you’re looking to install a heated swimming pool on your property, or upgrade your existing set up, you’re likely wondering if the appeal of consistently warm water is worth the legwork and overall costs.
Like so many things, there is no one-size fits all answer. What may seem an excessive splurge for one person could be well worth every penny for another crowd. From cost, to frequency of use, there are a few key aspects to consider before diving head first into your new, heated pool.
Location, Location, Location
The benefit margin of a heated swimming pool is influenced by many things, but one of the largest is where you live on the map. Swimming is naturally an activity enjoyed by most during periods of warmer weather. Unfortunately, the majority of us don’t have the luxury of a year long endless summer. Because of this, those living in highly seasonal areas may only be able to get utility from an unheated pool during 2-3 months of the year.
If this is the case for you, then purchasing a pool heater can certainly be a worthwhile investment as can lengthen the swimming season considerably. Water that may have only been swimmable from August to June could now be accessed as early as May and as late as the end of September. The more frequently your pool is used, the more worthwhile it becomes as a fixture of your backyard. In this situation, the overhead cost to heat your pool may become well worth the money spent as it allows you to enjoy your outdoor living space even when the weather is cooler.
In comparison, areas such as southern California are exposed to colder temperatures infrequently, and therefore benefit from swimming weather at some point during nearly every calendar month. Pool heaters in consistently warm climates may do little to increase the use of your pool, and you may ultimately find yourself paying for a luxury you see little benefit from.
Frequency of Use
As mentioned, the frequency with which you use your pool is directly related to the value of paying to heat it. For those who rarely use their pool, even in the middle of summer, paying to extend the season is likely an unwise investment. It’s worth evaluating if the factor preventing you from choosing to swim is really the temperature of the water, or simply that there are no members of your household who enjoy the activity.
If you find that you, nor anyone in your family, has stepped foot in your pool in the time you’ve owned your home, you may even consider filling it in altogether. While filling in your pool may seem daunting, is not likely not the undertaking you are imagining. And though the cost of pool removal isn’t cheap, the long term benefits of more usable outdoor living space, lower property maintenance, and lessened liability can be all the convincing you need to start digging.
Consider Who’s Swimming
There are some groups of individuals who may find more benefit in a heated pool than others. Young children have a lessened ability to regulate their body temperatures, and swimming in a colder pool can be not only uncomfortable, but dangerous if exposure is prolonged. A heated swimming pool can buffer this by keeping water at a recommended 85-87 degrees Fahrenheit. Similar effects of poor temperature regulation can be found in older individuals.
If you live in a multi-generational home, or want to enjoy regular pool time with your little ones, then paying to maintain consistent water temperatures may make a great deal of sense.
How much are you willing to pay?
If heating a pool year round was cheap, wouldn’t everyone be doing? Unfortunately, the price your family can expect to pay for a comfortable cannon ball in early October is nothing to laugh at.
A bulk of the expense of a pool heater comes in upfront costs. For quality, effective heating, you can expect to pay anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 dollars on the initial pump alone. From there, you must consider both the expense of installation ($500-1,500), as well as the monthly cost of running your heater. The overall yearly expense is dependent on many factors, including but not limited to:
- The size of your pool
- The location of your pool (shaded or full-sun)
- Regional utilities expenses
- Desired length of swimming season
Additionally, costs can range significantly depending on the style, or type, or heater installed. In general, homeowners can expect to pick from pumps powered by three different energy sources. These include solar, electric, and natural gas powered heaters. Each type of heater comes with their own set of pros and cons and each run at different price points.
Solar Pool Heaters
Solar powered heating pumps get their energy directly from the sun, making it free, renewable, and eco-friendly. A solar powered set up also means that, while you will pay to run the pump which cycles the heating water, the energy source comes at no cost to you, lowering the overall utilities expense. That being said, those living in chronically cloudy climates should keep in mind that an energy source dependent on availability of sunny days may not be a practical choice if they are actually hoping to enjoy a temperate swim. Furthermore, solar powered heaters tend to warm water at a slightly reduced rate to traditional energy alternatives.
Electric Pool Heaters
Electric swimming pool heaters are a good option for those living in climates which experience little daily sun. Reliable and effective, they are generally low maintenance and can be a straightforward solution to families looking to enjoy their backyard well into the fall. Costs to run an electric heater will be dependent on where you live, the size of your pool, and the regional expense of electricity in your area. Installation is less complex than natural gas heaters, and may be less prone to necessary repairs.
While natural gas has become cheaper in recent years, the installation of gas run heaters is typically more complicated, and often results in more frequent maintenance calls to repair the equipment. Natural gas powered heaters also sport relatively shorter life spans than their solar and electric counterparts. However, those looking to heat their pool quickly may find appeal in this option, as natural gas run heaters can dramatically increase the temperature of your water in as little an hour.
Overall, the best heating equipment for your heated swimming pool is largely dependent on its size, your geographical location, and how quickly you expect your pool to heat. All things considered, pool owners can expect to pay anywhere from 150-200 dollars a month to keep their pool heated and ready to use.
Quality is Key
Knowing the inherent cost of a heated swimming pool, it can be tempting to purchase low budget options. Though budget heaters may be more affordable up front, they also run a far larger risk of breaking, and experience generally reduced life spans.
This means the cumulative cost over the course of 10 years is likely to be the same, if not more, than if you had chosen to originally invest in the proper installation of a high quality heater. Not to mention, the headache of frequent repairs and often poor rate of warming mean that budget heaters may not thoroughly do the job they were purchased to do in the first place.
Like so many things in life, you get what you pay for. When it comes to pool equipment, paying a little more for truly quality equipment can be well worth the money.
Heat Your Pool Naturally
If you’ve reached this point and determined that a pool heater is not the right fit for your family, there are several approaches you can take to help keep your water warmer without any costly investments. While not as effective as a powered heater, even taking simple measures can make a notable difference.
During warmer months, direct sunlight can be one of the most efficient ways to keep the water in your pool comfortable for use. If your pool is obscured by trees or other structures, clearing the area can result in a dramatic difference in temperature. Additionally, keeping the overhead area of your pool clear can reduce the effort and amount it requires cleaning. Fewer overhanging trees means that debris such as leaves and other natural material will have a tougher time finding their way into your filtration system.
Solar Covers & Rings
Maximize the daily sun your pool does enjoy with a solar cover. Not only do good solar covers absorb and attract heat, but they trap it as well. This means your pool will cool less overnight, and warm more quickly during daylight hours.
Less costly but still effective, solar rings float on the surface of the water and act in much the same way as solar covers. Trapping and attracting heat, they can be an accessible and cost effective way to make a notable difference in the temperature of your pool.
Many pools are enclosed for more than just safety reasons. Enclosing your pool also protects it from environmental factors such as wind. Wind exposure can disrupt the surface of your pool and cause warmth to leak from the body of water at an increasing rate. Building a fence or other enclosure can be a cheaper way to not only bump up the safety of your outdoor pool but give the temperature a boost as well.