I was at a home last week on a sales call for a solar photovoltaic (electric) system. Whenever I am at someone’s home, I look around at the appliances, lighting, and construction of the home. I ask myself, “is this home efficient?” If not, I’m obligated to point out that making a home more efficient can often be more cost effective than installing solar panels. Homeowners look at me quizzically, because after all, I am there to sell solar panels, right?!
This particular homeowner had a 2 HP single speed swimming pool pump. The pool and pump were under one year old. I had to tell him that despite the pump being very new that he should replace it with a variable speed pump right away – before he considers installing a solar energy system.
Some people do not believe this amazing variable speed pool pump efficiency at first. Once I go through the math, it becomes pretty obvious. A 2HP pump running 8 hours per day will cost approximately $60 per month at Southwest Florida’s current electricity rates. A variable speed pump running at a low speed for a longer period of time to achieve the same turnover typically results in electrical consumption of $15 per month – a savings of $45! This would vary somewhat depending on features that you operate like a spa, water feature, pool cleaner, or other features that require a higher pump speed for some period of time, but there are always significant savings regardless of what features are operated.
How many solar panels would you need to install to get the same savings? Let me get straight to the point and tell you that a solar energy system that saves you $45 per month would cost about $12,000 before tax credits and incentives. You could replace the pump several times over the lifetime of the photovoltaic system and still come out well ahead!
There are a lot of factors involved that can shift these numbers one way or another, but it’s safe to say that when it comes to pool pumps, efficiency has a tremendous return on investment.