How to Choose the Right Electric Heat Pump for You

Welcome to a new way to swim. Gone are the days of tensing your muscles to brace for icy waters, or skipping your swim when the air grows chilly. It’s about to get a whole lot more enjoyable to relax in your pool, more motivating to take daily laps, and easier to get the whole family diving together.

An electric heat pump will help you swim comfortably at a lower cost, and with a more sustainable impact. But not all heat pumps are designed equally. I’ll explain how to choose the right one for you based on pool size, features, and reliability, as well as how to operate it to maximize savings.

Let’s jump in. The water’s about to be just fine.

Why Heat the Pool, Anyway?

By using a pool heater, you can set the temperature of your pool water to the number of your choosing. This means that your pool’s temperature will be tailored to your specific comfort.

Not convinced that temperature determines comfort? Think back. At some point in your life, you’ve been ready for a nice, refreshing dip just to feel your shoulders hit your ears and every hair stand on end. Having your own heater and setting the right temperature for you means no more shivering on the pool steps, or entering inch by gruesome inch.

With your water temperature reliably warm to your choosing, you can dive right in at any hour, and even on slightly cooler days. Nightswimming and early autumn dives become not just conceivable, but enjoyable. 

Temperature can also be adapted for certain age groups that benefit from warmer pools, such as children and elderly people. Warmer water helps loosen up muscles for children, as well as prevent breathing difficulties that might otherwise occur in cold water. Turning up the heat can also increase comfort for swimmers with arthritis.

Plus, temperature considerations go beyond the swim. Pool temperatures can often help maintain your chemical balance, or keep your pool water from becoming more vulnerable to contaminants.

Looking to extend the swim season as much as you can? A heat pump is the answer for you—but you’ll want a powerful unit that will save you on your energy bill every month, like the Energy-Saving ComforTemp Pool Heat Pump 95,000 BTU to heat 18,000 Gallons. According to customer Steve, “Simple install and simple set up. Heated my pool from 66 to 82 degrees in about 2 complete days.” 

Electric Heat Pumps vs. Other Pump Types

So why should you go with an electric heat pump in the first place? The short answer is that it’s the most convenient, cost-efficient, and effective way to heat your pool.

Want the long answer? Buckle up, because I’m about to really drive this point home.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are three types of energy-efficient pool heaters: gas heaters, solar heaters, and electric heat pumps.

But just because all three are coined “energy-efficient” doesn’t mean they use an equal amount of energy. And that matters for the environment, definitely. But also for your own wallet: you pay for the energy you use every single month. Get an “energy-efficient” heat type that guzzles energy, and it’ll cost you. And cost you. And cost you. And so on, for as long as you have a pool.

Gas heaters, in my humble opinion, shouldn’t even be on the list. They shouldn’t be called energy-efficient or frankly, even presented as an option. These are outdated energy-wasters. The way they work is that they generate heat on their own, meaning they produce it from scratch. This is a terribly difficult task that’s hard on your monthly energy bill and the equipment itself.

Solar heaters, on the other hand, use sustainable energy (it doesn’t get more sustainable than sun rays) to then compress heat and transfer it to your pool. It’s a genius process, because it doesn’t rely on self-generation. However, solar collectors and their circulation systems are complicated and expensive to install.

Heat pumps are the best of both worlds. They work using cutting-edge technology that draws in heat from the ambient air around the pump, compresses it, and transfers that heat straight back into your pool.

By utlizing heat that already exists, an electric heat pump cuts down your energy bill, is less invasive to the environment, and maintains reliable temperature—all without complicated solar panels or costly installation.

How to Choose the Right Electric Heat Pump for You

Remember, this isn’t just a one-time purchase for a heat pump. The decision you make now will go beyond the initial price tag. You’ll be paying for the equipment you choose now every single month, thanks to your energy bill.

It couldn’t be more important to move forward wisely. I’ll lay out the considerations you need to make, and give you my top recommendation.

Pool Size

You do know how many gallons of water your pool contains, right? Well, if you don’t, now is the time to find out. Knowing your pool size allows you to get the right equipment, plumbing, even the amount of chemicals you need—including the right-sized heat pump.

You can calculate your pool’s volume (that’s how many gallons of water yours has) by multiplying length by the width and depth, with all units in feet:

Volume = Length x Width x Depth

Then, convert your volume from feet to gallons by multiplying it by 7.5.

If your pool floor has a shallow end, a deep end, and a sloped floor between the two, you’ll need to find your average depth first. To find your average depth, just multiply the depth of your shallow end and the depth of your deep end and divide that number by two:

(Depth of Pool’s Shallow End x Depth of Pool’s Deep End)/2 = Average Depth

For example, if you have a pool that is 32 feet long, 16 feet wide, and with a constant depth of 5 feet, your calculation would be:

(32 x 16 x 5) x 7.5 = 19,200 gallons.

The power of most pool heat pumps is measured by British Thermal Units (BTUs). One BTU refers to the amount of energy that’s required to increase the temperature of a pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. But your pump should also make clear how many gallons it’s capable of heating.

Features

Pool pumps don’t go for cheap, and for good reason—this is the kind of engineering that takes a lot of time and resources to get just right. But when it comes to heat pump models, a little bit of extra details go a long way.

Make sure that your heat pump includes easy programming tools so that you can get exactly the performance you need. Bonus points if your evaporation condenser is made from titanium, which is a durable metal that is also resistant to corrosion.

Reliability

The whole point of getting a heat pump is to maintain a reliable temperature in your water—and keeping it consistent will actually save you a chunk on money on energy over time.

Make sure the pump you choose is BT-certified for reliability. It also helps to get a model that comes with a self-diagnostic system to automatically fix any electrical issues that might occur.

And the Best Electric Heat Pump on the Market Is...

My top recommendation is the Energy-Saving ComforTemp Pool Heat Pump, which returns every dollar you spend with five dollars of heat created. Its design by longtime pool experts tops the market, it comes with a warranty, and it is the most affordable heat pump you can find—without sacrificing craftsmanship or efficiency.

To keep your circulation system in top shape, you’ll need a reliable, powerful, and energy-saving pump like the 2 HP Energy Star Variable Speed In Ground Blue Torrent Cyclone Pump to make sure all your water is sanitized. Plus, it comes with a free warranty, is eligible for rebates, and pays itself off in under a year. According to customer James Robinson, “Great price, quick shipping and delivery. Installed it and turned it on, and it was so quiet that we both reached down to feel if it was vibrating! Simple controls. I’d buy it again.” 

Finding the Right Temperature for You

Once you install your new electric heat pump, it’s time to choose temperature. You’ll want to set your number to 78 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit if you intend to use it as a place to exercise or a way to relax.

Setting Temp for Certain Age Groups

It’s recommended that very new swimmers (that’s beginning at the age of four) swim in waters that are around 84 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re a senior yourself or you have seniors in your family, your pool temperature should be somewhere between 86 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit.

Setting Temp for Chemical Balance

Keeping your pool below 85 degrees Fahrenheit will prevent algae and bacteria from reproducing at a higher rate. That puts stress on your chemical balance as a whole, since nothing sucks up chemicals like algae and bacteria.

Consistently keep your pool above that temperature, and you’ll need to use pool shock more often for algae blooms and to keep chloramines (the byproducts that occur when chlorine attacks bacteria) at bay.

Hotter Temps, Higher Bill

It’s going to cost significantly more to keep your pool above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, especially when the outside temperature drops, since heat pumps pull in heat from ambient air. Less heat in the air means the harder your heat pump will need to work.

Warmer temperatures mean slightly stronger contaminants. Keep your sanitizer working at its highest capacity by switching to a powerful automatic cleaner that works on its own to keep your pool sparkling clean. Look no further than the Blue Torrent MyBot Inground Robotic Cleaner, which works powerfully on its own to keep your walls and floor sparkling clean. As customer David Lain says, “Very pleased. My wife loves it.” 

Operate Your Heat Pump and Save!

At the end of the day, how much money you save with your heat pump is up to you. Here are some tips to keep your bills low.

While it is important to have a reliable heater, you can save some serious cash by not leaning on it too hard. When you aren’t using the pool for a while, cover it with a solar pool cover, solar rings, or just a standard pool cover. This will help your pool retain heat and put less strain on your heater.

If you go on vacation, you can turn the heater off entirely. It won’t cost more to turn it back on and heat up from scratch as it will to heat the pool every day while you’re gone. Plus, a cooler pool will be less conducive to algae and bacteria infestations in your absence.

Turn Up the Heat!

You’ve got the right heat pump now, which means your relationship with your pool is about to change for the better. This new lifestyle is worth every dollar—which pays back five dollars worth of heat, as long as you chose the right model. See you at the pool.

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