Five Ways to Increase Pool Heater Efficiency
If you’ve never run a propane pool heater before, you may be in for a surprise the first time you use it – especially if you run it before temperatures start to really rise this summer in North Carolina.
Here’s why: the average propane pool heater burns about one gallon of propane per hour per 100,000 Btus. Since a propane pool heater for a standard-sized pool (~21,000 gallons) outputs 400,000 Btus, you will burn about four gallons of propane per hour.
So how many hours will the heater run for? That requires a little bit of math (bear with us).
- By definition, a Btu (or British thermal unit) is the measure of how much energy is needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.
- As we said above, a typical pool is 21,000 gallons, and one gallon of water weighs 8.34 lbs. This means you will need about 175,100 Btus to raise the temperature of a standard-sized pool by one degree.
- Pool heaters can operate between 80-95 percent efficiency; if we conservatively estimate using 80 percent as a rating, a 400,000 Btu heater will actually output only 320,000 BTUs per hour. Translation: if you run a 400,000 BTU heater for one hour (using four gallons of propane) you will raise the temperature in a 21,000-gallon pool by about 1.82 degrees.
- Now: If your pool temperature is 70 degrees and you want to swim in 80-degree water – a 10-degree rise – you’ll have to run your pool heater for five to six hours (10 degrees / 1.82 degrees per gallon per hour).
While you won’t always need to raise the temperature in your pool by 10 degrees, you can still see that you use quite a bit of propane to keep your pool warm – and that means you should do all you can to make your pool heater run more efficiently.
How do you do that? Here are five suggestions:
- Use a pool cover – Evaporation accounts for 70 percent of a pool’s heat loss, so put a lid on it when it’s not in use!
- Retain a pool temperature of between 78-80 degrees – Every degree you raise the temperatures increases energy costs dramatically; keep water warm, but not spa-warm.
- Lower the thermostat when the pool isn’t being used – If you don’t plan to use the pool for a few days, cover it and drop the thermostat to 70 degrees. For longer periods, shut the heater off.
- Install a fence or hedge – to protect your pool from wind and heat loss.
- Have your pool heater serviced annually – Like any fuel-burning appliance, a pool heater needs to be maintained regularly to run at its best. In fact, an annual tune-up for your pool will usually pay for itself in efficiency improvements alone – not to mention the long-term benefit to your pool heater that routine maintenance will provide.
Enjoying your heated pool? Great! Just make sure you have enough propane on hand to keep it running. Contact James Oxygen today to learn more about reliable propane deliveries in western North Carolina!