An agreement between industry, efficiency proponents, and other interested parties for the first national energy efficiency standards for pool pumps was approved last week by a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) advisory committee.

Based on DOE’s analysis, the standards will save more than 400 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity over 30 years of sales or the equivalent amount of electricity used annually by 37 million U.S. households, making it one of the biggest energy savings standards completed this year. Most of the savings will come from switching from single speed pumps to variable speed pumps, which can change their speed as needed, speeding up to clean the pool or slowing down and saving energy when filtering the water.

The new standards will cut the energy use for in-ground pool pumps by about 70%, and owners of in-ground pools will save about $2,000 on average over the lifetime of a pool pump. On a national level, consumers will save $13-28 billion with the new standards taking into account pool pumps sold over a 30-year period.

The approval of the agreement by DOE’s Appliance Standards and Rulemaking Federal Advisory Committee (ASRAC) marks an important step in the standard-setting process. Next, DOE will write a rule based on the recommended standards and publish it for public comment. The new standards were developed after a yearlong series of negotiations between DOE, pool pump manufacturers, motor manufacturers, efficiency supporters, state government, and utilities.

“Today’s commitment to supporting the adoption of more efficient pumps builds on a 15-year cooperative relationship with the pool industry that has led to innovation and product development,” said Gary Fernstrom, retired employee and advisor to Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) Codes and Standards Program. “California’s investor-owned utilities are committed to helping customers conserve energy and have played a critical role in the effort to realize the significant energy savings and cost reductions for pool owners.”

Joanna Mauer, Technical Advocacy Manager for ASAP and a member of the working group notes that: “A typical pool pump can use as much as 6,000 kWh of electricity per year – a sizeable amount considering that the average U.S. household consumes about 11,000 kWh per year. The new standards will reduce energy consumption for in-ground pool pumps by about 70% relative to the least efficient pumps available today.”

The standards are scheduled to take effect in 2021.