One of the biggest energy hogs in a home is a swimming pool pump. The DOE has been working on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) for Energy Conservation Standards for about a year by way of the Appliance Standards and Rulemaking Federal Advisory Committee (ASRAC). What this means for the solar pool heating industry is that it will probably become more attractive to select a variable speed pump when building a pool or replacing a pump, which makes solar pool heaters work optimally anyway.
The most important things to come out of this negotiated rule are that typical pool pumps need to meet newly established efficiency standards and single speed pumps must ship with timers. However, these issues are already essentially covered in the Florida Energy Efficiency code, so there will be no significant impact except perhaps to make low horsepower (under 1 HP) pumps more efficient (and expensive). Some pool builders have been building smaller pools as efficient as possible to be able to get around the Florida code requirement for multi- and variable speed pumps. Pumps under 1 horsepower can still be single speed in Florida, making them a good choice on smaller, more efficiently built pools.
The net result is that variable speed pumps should become more attractive as the relative difference in price decreases between single speed and variable speed pumps.
That’s great for solar pool heating dealers. We love variable speed pumps because you can “dial in” the ideal flow rate while balancing energy savings with pumping costs. Since all major variable speed pumps come with integrated timers and solar automation changes pump speeds automatically, there is no other impact from the Rule.
The rule was negotiated by a committee that included pool pump industry leaders, utility company representatives, government agencies, and environmental groups. The Dedicated Purpose Pool Pumps Negotiated Rulemaking Working Group was comprised of1:
- Jeff Farlow, Pentair Aquatic Systems
- Gary Fernstrom, California Investor-Owned Utilities
- Patrizio Fumagalli, Bestway USA, Inc.
- Paul Lin, Regal Beloit Corporation
- Joanna Mauer, Appliance Standards Awareness Project
- Ray Mirzaei, Waterway
- Doug Philhower, Hayward Industries, Inc.
- Meg Waltner, Natural Resources Defense Council
- Kristen Driskell, California Energy Commission
- Scott Durfee, Nidec Motor Corporation
- Shajee Siddiqui, Zodiac Jandy
- John Cymbalsky, U.S. Department of Energy
- John Caskey, ASRAC/ National Electrical Manufacturers Association
Considering the new standards were negotiated and supported by a good cross-section of represented entities, this new rule should not have a lot of resistance. The net result will be energy savings on a macro level. However, all energy efficient appliances are subject to individual use patterns. There is little to stop someone from running an energy efficient pump in an inefficient manner, just like you can’t force someone to close the door on an Energy Star refrigerator. With industry education and pool owner demand for professionals to program pool pumps for maximum efficiency, there should be a good degree of energy savings coming out of this initiative.
That said, energy efficient variable speed pumps already exist and are actively being embraced by pool owners and industry professionals. This is not new cutting edge technology, and consumers can benefit today to start saving energy and the associated electricity cost. While national efficiency standards for pool pumps are a great thing, individual education and motivation will drive consumers to energy efficient alternatives already on the market.
1 Source: http://www.appliance-standards.org/sites/default/files/DPPP_Draft_Term_Sheet_2016-06-23_FINAL.pdf, August 8, 2016