The Perfect Pool Blog

Zodiac's In-Depth Resource for All Things Pool.

What You Need to Know About Energy-Efficient Pool Pumps

Image of a Jandy variable-speed pump with an energy efficient icon

If you own a pool or are planning to add one, you most likely already know that your pool pump is the heart of your pool. As your pool pump runs, it circulates water through your filtration system and throughout your pool to ensure that clean, filtered water reaches every wall, step, corner or curve so you and your family can relax and enjoy clear, refreshing water each time you use your pool.

Do you ever wonder how much energy your pool pump uses as it runs? Typically, your pool pump is your home’s second largest energy user—second only to your central air-conditioning system. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at pool pumps and how a variable-speed pump could help you save money on operating costs and make your pool—and your home—more energy-efficient.

Group shot of Jandy pool pumps 

What are the Different Types of Pool Pumps?

Many existing pools have a single-speed or two-speed pump. Single-speed pumps typically run at a constant speed of 3450 RPM while two-speed pumps can be set to full or half-speed for more cost-effective operation. There are also specialty pumps available to control specific features like waterfalls and booster pumps to power pressure-side pool cleaners.

In the last decade, the pool industry has experienced a rapid increase in the sale of variable-speed pumps which are popular for their energy efficiency and cost savings. Jandy® currently offers 22 ENERGY STAR-rated variable-speed pumps (more than any other brand in the industry), these energy-efficient pumps are able to operate at varying speeds that optimize water flow and can significantly reduce energy costs, using as much as 85-90% less energy* than single-speed pumps—and less energy directly results in lower operating costs for you!

How Does a Pool Pump Work?

First, let’s get back to the basics. Pool pumps have five primary parts—a motor, a wet end, an impeller, a diffuser and a strainer basket. The pool pump’s motor drives the impeller. The impeller moves the water by pulling it from the pool into the skimmer basket for pre-filtering, through the wet end, into the diffuser, then the water is pushed into the main filter to remove bacteria, dirt and debris before clean, clear water is returned to the pool. 

How Much Should You Run Your Pool Pump?

Your pool pump may not need to run as much as you might think. At minimum, all of the water in your pool needs to move through your pool’s pump and filter at least once per day and most pool professionals recommend twice per day. Depending on the size and volume of your pool, the minimum number of hours could be as little as six to eight hours (or even less for a smaller plunge pool or cocktail pool). Always make sure that your pump is running whenever you add chemicals, but otherwise the hours that you run your pool pump are up to you! 

Your pool pump schedule doesn’t have to be consecutive hours. For example, it’s OK to run your pool pump for four hours during the day and four hours at night. If electricity rates in your area are less expensive at night, you may want to run your pump even longer at night than in the daytime. 

To determine the most beneficial pump schedule for your pool, the best place to start is by talking to a pool professional in your area. They can help you calculate your pool’s size, water volume and the minimum number of hours you need to run your pool pump for it to fully circulate your water each day (your pool’s “turnover rate”). They can also help you determine the optimal hours to run your pump based on factors like your family’s schedule, how much you use your pool, local electricity rates and the weather in your area.

Image of the Jandy SpeedSet pump controller 

Automation and Controls for Your Pool Pump

Once you determine how long your pump needs to run and what hours work best for your pool—the best way to ensure that it runs consistently and correctly is with a pump controller or a pool/spa automation system.

The Jandy® SpeedSet™ pump controller interfaces with your variable speed pump for fast, simple, full-featured control over your pool pump’s speed and run times. The Jandy® AquaLink® pool automation system can turn your pump on and off or control the speed in addition to controlling an array of other pool or spa functions including your lights, heater, water features and more! 

What is the Right Pump for Your In-Ground Pool?

Whether you have an existing pool or you are planning to build one, your local pool professional can help you choose the right pump for your pool. The ideal pump for your pool will depend on many factors, including:

  • The size of your pool
  • The size of your pool’s filter and plumbing
  • Whether your pool has any special features (jets, infinity edge, spillover spa, waterfall, etc.)
  • The flow rate of your pool
  • How often you use your pool
  • Whether you live in an area with high electricity rates

Benefits of Variable-Speed Pool Pumps

Now that you know how a pool pump works, the different types of pool pumps available and the energy and cost savings a variable-speed pump can offer, let’s explore more about that and some of the additional benefits of variable-speed pool pumps:

1. Energy and Cost Savings:

Variable-speed pumps help maximize energy efficiency and can result in huge cost savings. Operating a variable-speed pump at 50% of its maximum speed uses 85-90% less energy and greatly reduces energy bills. It is an investment that will often pay for itself in less than one year*.

2. Sound Reduction:

Variable-speed pumps are much quieter than traditional, single-speed pumps. Sound from a pump is generated by both the motor and hydraulics. Reduce the speed of the motor and you also reduce the sound level.

3. Better Filtration:

Water passing through a filter at a lower speed is filtered more effectively than water passing through at a higher speed. The lower speed allows the filter to catch more debris, resulting in cleaner pool water.

4. Longer Equipment Life:

Variable-speed pumps operating at lower speeds generate less head pressure. This decreases stress on not only the pump but the rest of the system as well, resulting in less maintenance and longer equipment life.

5. Consistent Chlorine Levels:

UV rays from the sun can drastically reduce chlorine levels in pools. Running a variable-speed pump at lower speeds for a longer period of time allows a chlorine tab erosion feeder or salt chlorinator to maintain healthy chlorine levels.

6. Versatility:

Variable-speed pumps offer more versatility for water features. Different speeds can create different effects, allowing the homeowner to customize their perfect pool experience.

7. Safety:

Variable-speed pumps offer additional safety. Lower operational speeds result in lower water velocity which greatly reduces the risk of water entrapment.

So how much can you save by switching from a single-speed or two-speed pump to a variable-speed pump? This handy online calculator can help you learn approximately how much installing a variable-speed pump can save you. You just need to enter the size of your pool, how many months of the year you normally use your pool and your zip code (for average electricity rates in your area). The amount of savings a variable-speed pump can provide may surprise you! 

Should I Switch to a Variable Speed Pump?

If you are building a new pool, an energy-efficient variable-speed pump is what you need. Your pool can reap all the benefits listed above and depending on energy rates and possible incentives for your area, your variable-speed pump could pay for itself* in less than a year! 

If you have an existing pool with an older single-speed pump or two-speed pump that seems to be working fine for your pool, there is no urgency to switch to a variable-speed pump—yet. But as soon as your current pump needs major repair or replacement, talk to your pool pro about selecting the right variable-speed pump for your pool. 

However, if you use your pool year-round, if you live in an area where electricity is expensive, or if you have a large pool with an attached spa and/or decorative water features— one of our ENERGY STAR-rated variable-speed pumps may be the best option for you right now! 


Department of Energy Pool Pump Regulations

In July, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) regulations went into effect requiring Dedicated Purpose Pool Pumps (DP3) manufactured in or imported into the U.S. to meet minimum energy-efficiency standards. You can find more information here from the DOE regarding installing or operating an energy-efficient pool pump. In addition to the money you can save by installing a variable-speed pump, there are also some state and federal incentives available for installing one. Check here to find out if there’s an incentive available for your area

About This Blog

Includes all the latest information, tips, and expert advice from Zodiac Pool Systems, Inc. on owning the healthiest, safest, most enjoyable pool possible.


Zodiac is a leading global manufacturer of differentiated pool and spa products. With our rich heritage of innovation excellence, we develop some of the world's leading products that afford our customers a better life.


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