Maintaining a pool is a pain for any hotel operator; it costs money to keep it, and even more money to heat it. According to, young children and the elderly, some of the most frequent users of hotel pools, require a pool temperature of 80° F, or higher. That’s hot, but we’ve got some info that just might cool you down!

The truth is, knowing the ins and outs of your pool heating system can help cut down on energy costs while maintaining a pool that won’t send your guests running for warmth. Here’s some great info designed to help you decide which pool heating system is right for you!

What you need to know about pool covers

There are a number of ways to minimize heat loss from your pool however, since the number one source of heat loss is evaporation, the most effective way to reduce heating costs is by investing in a pool cover. Reports from ENERGY STAR suggest that for hotel pools, simply using a cover on a heated pool can save 50%-70% of the pool’s energy use, 30%-50% of its makeup water, and 35%- 60% of its chemicals. Yup, it’s that easy!

While a pool cover is essentially a big piece of plastic, there are certain types you’ll want to focus on when selecting the most energy-efficient for you pool. Try to buy one that is designed for swimming pools and made of UV-stabilized polyethylene, polypropylene, or vinyl. Did you know that outdoor pools can absorb 75%-85% of the solar energy hitting the pool surface? It’s true! Maximize your savings by investing in a bubble cover that will allow sun to break through and contribute to heating up the pool for your guests. Using a transparent bubble cover will only reduce pool solar energy absorption by 5-15% and is usually the best way to go.

Last but not least? While indoor pools aren’t subjected to the outdoors, they still lose energy from evaporation and require room ventilation in order to control humidity. Thankfully the benefits of using a pool cover include reducing the need to ventilate indoor air meaning that your hotel can shut off exhaust fans while the pool is covered, saving you even more energy (and costs). Make sure that all pools and hot tubs are covered up after hours to reduce heat loss. It may seem logical but forgetting to do so may be costing you a lot of money.

Heat Pumps vs. Gas-fired pool heaters

According to Pool Supply World, heat pumps are an efficient and environmentally friendly way to heat your pool, and require much less energy than gas or electric heating systems. Heat pumps essentially use electricity to capture heat and move it from one place to another, however in order for heat pump operate effectively, the outside temperature should be 45°F – the higher the temperature, the more heat can be extracted and converted. While they may cost more than gas pool heaters, heat pumps normally have lower operating costs because of their higher efficiencies and last longer with the right maintenance.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy many pool operators run pumps much longer than necessary sending energy costs through the roof. Installing a timer to control the pump’s cycling is a great way to control these costs. Set the pump to activate for short periods throughout the day, particularly if debris is a problem – after all, several short cycles keeps the pool cleaner all day long! Of course cleaning out any clogged drains and ridding the grates of debris will also ensure your pump isn’t working too hard. Backwashing your filter is also important, it tends to waste water – but the alternative is wasted energy by overcharging your pump.

According to, advancements in the areas of hydraulics, heat exchanger technology, forced draft combustion systems, and pilot-less ignitions means that high-efficiency pool heaters are now available that are 89-95% efficient, supporting what is already the most popular system for heating pool throughout North America. As the name depicts, these pool heaters either use natural gas or propane and as suggested by the U.S. Department of Energy are most efficient when heating pools for short periods of time or doing so very quickly. This makes them a good choice for pools that aren’t used on a regular basis.

Buyers tip: According to ENERGY STAR, using a heat pump water heater (HPWH) for heating and dehumidification, and reduce heating costs for gas and electrically heated pools by 40- 80% respectively. HPWHs can be 2-3 times more energy-efficient than conventional electric resistance water heaters.

What you need to know about solar heaters

Last (but not least) is the solar pool heating system. Comprising normally of a solar collector, a filter, a pump and a flow control valve, solar pool heating systems are great way to significantly reduce swimming pool heating costs. During the daytime air is pumped through the filter and then through the solar collector where it is heated before going back into the pool. In really sunny climates, operators can also pump water through the collectors at night to cool things down.

Costing between $3,000 and $4,000 to buy and install, solar pool heating systems are as affordable as both gas and heat pump heaters, and since they have low operating costs, they are the most cost-effective choice in many climates. The best part is, they last longer than both gas and heat pump pool heaters with a payback period of between 1.5 and 7 years.

Don’t forget to consider your hotel’s solar resource before jumping on the solar heating system band-wagon. It sounds good but do your research (read more from the U.S. Department of Energy) before deciding whether or not it’s necessarily the most energy-efficient choice for your hotel.

 image credit: Sheraton Hotels and Resorts