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How Much Does it Cost to Heat a Pool? Our EASY Guide

Pool temperatures can get very low even in warm climates, and who wants to swim in an ice-cold pool? This makes pool heating an integral part of our enjoying a swim.

But the question is, how much does it cost to heat a pool?

Here you’ll find a comprehensive breakdown of the most popular pool heating options and what costs you can expect with each of them, plus some frequently asked questions.

Swimming Pool

Heat Pumps Cost

The cost of heating a pool using a heat pump is around 80 cents per hour. According to the US Department of Energy, the annual cost of heating an outdoor pool in Chicago (sized 1,000 square feet during the months of May to September) to a temperature of 78 degrees is $810, and $1270 to heat it to 82 degrees (1).

When it comes to heating your pool, every degree counts, literally.

Based on the figures above, warming your pool up by one degree can cost you an average of $115 per year in energy using a heat pump.

However, since they’re more expensive upfront when compared to gas pool heaters, they often last longer and can run more efficiently depending on the unit. According to the Energy.gov:

Heat pump pool heaters cost more than gas pool heaters, but they typically have much lower annual operating costs because of their higher efficiencies.

If your goal is to keep your energy bill as low as possible, you’ll want to go with either a heat pump or a solar heater.

Gas Heaters Cost

Gas heaters use either natural gas (where the heating system connects directly to the household gas line) or propane (where the system connects to a stand-alone propane tank) (2). If you want to keep your costs lower, go with natural gas if possible.

HomeAdvisor.com states:

Propane costs twice as much to run as gas but has the same energy output.

That said, both types of gas heaters heat water faster than any other type on this list. This makes them ideal for colder climates (3).

Although gas pool heating systems are less expensive, the costs of operating them over time are higher. Today, the newer gas heaters are a lot more efficient than the older models.

So how much does it cost to heat a pool using a gas heating system? 

A gas pool heater costs $1,000 to $4,500 on average, and installation anywhere from $500 to $1,500 (3). The cost of running a gas heater is approximately $7 an hour, and $200 to $400 a month.

Solar Pool Heaters Cost

A solar pool heater setup can range widely in price, depending on the components you choose. You can expect to invest anywhere from $50 for solar pool blankets and rings to $4,000 for solar panels for inground pools.

Solar heating systems last longer than both gas and heat pump heaters, and provide a great solution to heating a pool using sustainable energy. However, several factors determine the actual cost and payback. These factors include:

  • The site’s solar resource
  • Getting the heating system size right
  • Comparing heater costs
  • The heater’s efficiency
  • The correct orientation and tilt for the collector
  • Local regulations

Solar Pool Panel Kits Cost

A solar panel kit consists of the parts required for installing a solar pool panel to a surface, and joining the water connections from panel to panel.

The cost of a panel kit is about $4,000 to create an energy-efficient setup for your pool.

However, it is possible to reduce this dramatically, as shown in this great video by Do It Yourself Wrong:

For all my MacGyver’s out there, looks like $50 is your amount to beat. When you think of the battle between solar pool heaters vs heat pumps and other pool heating methods, this is pretty remarkable.

Are you up to the challenge?

Solar Pool Blankets Cost

The cost of solar pool blankets (also known as covers) start at about $50, depending on the pool size and quality of the blanket.

The main expense in buying a solar blanket is the reel, however, which also varies in price based on the size of your pool.

Solar pool covers are the cheapest and one of the most effective solar pool heating systems on this list, with even a plastic cover proving helpful in keeping the pool temperatures warm. If you’re interested in one for your pool, click here for our favorites.

FAQs

There are three main ways that you can reduce the cost to heat a pool:

Use a solar blanket (or cover): It minimizes heating costs by half.
Reduce your temperatures: For every 2 degrees you reduce your temperature, you save about $40 every month.
Upgrade your heater: Modern heaters are more efficient, which ultimately means you’ll save on heating expenses. Installing a solar pool heater will also enable you to minimize the cost of heating your pool.

Several factors affect average pool heating prices including:

Gas and electricity costs
Average temperatures of the pool site and amount of direct sunlight
Pool size and bottom material

Depending on where you live, the impact of each of these will vary significantly.

The cheapest way to heat a pool is with solar blankets or solar rings unless you build your own DIY solar heating system. These systems should only cost you around $50-$200, but they all have the potential to raise your pool temperature significantly.

If you read this guide, you can even optimize your pool cover’s color to warm your pool more efficiently. In addition, if you’re looking for more powerful options that still won’t break the bank, check out these top ways to heat a pool to find the perfect method for you.

  1. Heat Pump Swimming Pool Heaters. Retrieved from: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/heat-pump-swimming-pool-heaters
  2. Solar Swimming Pool Heaters. Retrieved from: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/solar-swimming-pool-heaters
  3. How Much Does It Cost To Install A Pool Heater? Retrieved from: https://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/swimming-pools-hot-tubs-and-saunas/install-a-swimming-pool-heater/
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