How to Heat Your Pool—The Energy-Efficient and Cost-Effective Way

Let me guess: you want to jump right into your pool water without every cell in your body freezing up. And I don’t blame you.

Heating your pool to a consistent temperature ensures that you don’t even have to dip your toe in before deciding on a swim, and that you certainly don’t have to sink in inch by shivering inch on the pool steps. It’s time you get what you deserve—and you deserve better.

But how you heat your pool also matters. I’ll explain why energy-efficiency is the same thing as cost-effectiveness, debrief each common pool heating type, describe why heat pumps are the way to go, and break down how to find and operate yours the right way.

The water is (about to be) just fine. Let’s dive in.

Why Every Pool Owner Deserves a Heated Pool

Switching to a heated pool amps up comfort, extends the swim season, allows adjustments for certain age groups, and creates more opportunity for automation. In other words, every pool owner deserves to have a pool heater. And ultimately, anyone can feel the difference.

Amps Up Comfort

By controlling the temperature of your water, you can anticipate just how it’s going to feel. If you prefer cooler, refreshing water, you can keep it at a lower temperature without worrying about a sudden arctic pool once the weather turns. If you prefer a tropical-like swim, you can turn the heat up for your specific sensibilities.

The result? It’s pretty common for pool owners to tell me that they actually started swimming more after getting a pool heat pump. Because it makes for a more comfortable swim, there’s no need to brace yourself before hopping in.

Swim Better, Longer

Unless you’re one of the lucky ones who live in a tropical paradise, you know the inevitability of closing your pool down every fall and opening your pool up again every spring. It’s might be easy once you get the hang of it, but it’s never what I’d call a good time.

A pool heater can’t change that. But what it can do is extend the swim season a few weeks or more in the spring and the fall. And since the water itself will be more comfortable, those are weeks when you’ll actually want to swim. No more bracing for a freeze!

Adjusts for Age Groups

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 senior swimmers with arthritis or chronic pain. If you (or someone in your family) are a swimmer that needs warmer temperatures due to your age, it’s time to gain control of the warmth in your pool.

More Opportunities for Automation

Pool automation is the ability to synch up all your pool systems into programmable settings, totally customizable for you. Hooking up a heat pump to your pool’s automation system allows you to regulate your pool’s temperature from afar—whether you’re on vacation or at the store getting supplies for that night’s pool party.

The higher the heat, the stronger the bacteria. 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.”

Make It Energy-Efficient!

There’s a big movement in the pool industry to opt in to energy-efficient equipment, and that’s for a reason. Perhaps the biggest shift happened in 2021, when the federal government virtually mandated that pool owners buy variable-speed models, instead of the outdated and energy inefficient single-speed pump type. There’s also been a longstanding rebates incentive program spearheaded by the U.S. government to help pay for energy-efficient appliances in and out of pools.

But federal and state law and incentives aren’t the only reason to make your home and pool more energy-efficient. Here’s a fact that many pool owners overlook: operational costs actually tend to outweigh the sticker price of most of your equipment. It’s because many owners misunderstand this concept that people were even buying single-speed pumps in the first place.

Energy-efficiency actually saves you money in the long run… and “long” is an overstatement, since usually you’ll start to earn back savings in under a year. This is because the more energy-efficient your equipment, the lower your monthly energy bill.

So when it comes to any equipment, including pool heaters, what is energy-efficient is also cost-effective. It’s just the only way to go.

All the “Energy-Efficient” Ways to Heat… They’re Not Equal

Just because you see the words “energy-efficient” on pool equipment doesn’t mean that particular model is a slam dunk. 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.

This is where it gets really important to be a little critical. Because although gas heaters, solar heats, and electric heat pumps are “energy-efficient” doesn’t mean they use the same amount of energy to heat your pool.

How much it costs to heat your pool differs greatly based on pool heater type. And I’m not talking about the initial price. I’m talking about operation.

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 keep costing you, every thirty days, for as long as you have a pool.

That makes a big difference in your wallet. But pool heaters that take up a lot of energy also aren’t great on the environment. They also suffer in the longevity department—and since buying a heater is going to cost you initially, it’s important to get one that’s going to last.

Getting the most energy-efficient pool heater is a win-win-win: for you and your wallet, the greater environment, and the reliability of your heater. So let’s talk about actual energy-efficiency by heater type.

Gas Heaters

If you compare gas heaters to the two other pool heat types, well… they shouldn’t even be on the list. These are the original pool heaters, but that doesn’t mean they’re retro or cool. More like they’re clunky, outdated, and low-tech energy wasters.

This is where they go wrong: Gas heaters generate heat on their own, meaning they produce heat from scratch. As you might be able to imagine, this is a terribly difficult task. Self-generating is hard on your monthly energy bill and the equipment itself. There’s just zero reason why anyone in our current day should be buying a gas heater. Forget energy-efficient—I’m surprised they’re legal.

Solar Heaters

From the distant past to the future. At least, that’s how transitioning from a gas heater to a solar heater can feel. But don’t be fooled—solar heaters aren’t exactly straight out of the Jetsons. They can actually be a major pain to install, which is why I don’t recommend them to the majority of  pool owners.

Solar heaters are incredibly sustainable, because they pull heat from sun rays. (And what’s more sustainable than the sun?). They then compress that heat, and transfer it right into your pool. It’s a genius process, because it doesn’t rely on self-generation. Any pool owner should be far beyond self-generation, and never go back. Seriously.

However, solar collectors and their circulation systems are complicated and expensive to install. You’ll need to have the right kind of roof or another appropriate spot for large sun panels, and then there needs to be a system of large electrical hook-ups that run down to your pool. Unless you have the perfect house for it and the willingness to dish out some cash, I highly recommend this next heating type.

Electric Heat Pumps

This is the pool heating type that I recommend to every pool owner. Using an electric heat pump is the best way to heat your pool. Full stop.

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.”

Why the Electric Heat Pump is the Way to Go

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. This process is similar to solar heaters, because it involves compressing heat sourced from nature and turning it into an effective way to boost pool water temperature. Unlike gas heaters, it does not self-generate. And hallelujah for that.

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. In fact, many pool owners find that it’s incredibly easy to install a pool heater and get to a smoother swim in no time.

How an Electric Heat Pump Works

Want to get even further into the science behind heat pumps? Here’s the play by play of the process.

1.     First, the pool heat pump pulls in water from the pool. The heat pump itself contains freon, which is a colorless liquid used as a refrigerant. Chances are you have freons in your air conditioning, too.

2.     Next, the pool heat pump compresses the freon until it reaches a temperature about 200 degrees Fahrenheit, 93 degrees Celsius.

3.     The freon then passes from the high-pressure zone of the heat pump into the low-pressure zone. Once the freon’s pressure is released, it turns into a hot gas.

4.     Meanwhile, the pool heat pump’s fan pulls in warm ambient air, which flows over a set of evaporator coils. The hotter the temperature of this air, the more heat the evaporator coils will absorb from the freon gas in this next step.

5.     Next, the freon gas flows through the evaporator coils, which cools the gas. During this process, the gas transfers its heat to the water circulating through the heat pump, which is then returned to the pool. 

Once this process is done, the freon returns to a liquid again, the heat pump pulls more cool water in from the pool, and the cycle continues until all of the pool water is properly heated. And by the way, that freon gas? Thanks to the evaporation coils, it never makes direct contact with your water.

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How to Choose an Electric Heat Pump

Ready to make the leap, but not sure how to find the right one? It’s good to take pause here and make sure you’re getting the right electric heat pump. Remember, what you buy now will be costing you a certain amount in energy and operation every single month. Get the right unit, and you’ll save a chunk of cash, and keep saving.

The first consideration you should make is size compatibility. 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. If you don’t know how many gallons your pool contains, now is the time to find out.

Second, make sure that your new electric heat pump has the features you’ll need. Make sure that your heat pump includes easy programming tools so that you can customize its performance. Bonus points if your evaporation condenser is made from titanium, which is a durable metal that is also resistant to corrosion.

Third consideration is reliability. 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.

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.

Want to know how to heat your pool in an efficient way? Learn more here.

How to Operate an Electric Heat Pump—And Save

The savings go even beyond what type of heat pump you install. Here are some tips to keep even more cash.

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.

If you have a heat pump, it’s more important than ever to maintain proper circulation in your pool. Thankfully, the Blue Torrent 2 HP Variable-Speed Pump is ultra-powerful, comes with a lifetime warranty, eligible for rebates, and pays itself off in under a year by energy saved. As customer Bill Britton says, “Runs great. Super quiet.”

Take the Heat!

Now that you’re heating your pool the energy-efficient and cost-effective way, there’s only one thing left to do: jump in. Don’t worry, the water’s going to be exactly how you like it—you set it to your dream temperature, after all. Enjoy.


This article gives a guide on how to troubleshoot your pool heat pump. You can also read more on how much electricity your pool heat pump uses here.

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