Pool Covers and Energy Costs

There are many ways to cover your swimming pool when not in use. The two most common ways to cover a pool in the Midwest and colder states is either by a solar cover or an auto cover. Auto cover fabrics are typically made of vinyl material where solar covers are made up of a plastic material such as polyethylene and polypropylene. Covering your pool is important to saving on energy costs as well as evaporation of your pool water. According to the United States Department of Energy covering your pool water surface can give you a savings of 50-70% on energy! A lot goes into determining which type of pool cover is best for you depending factors such as price, new pool vs. old pool, shape of pool, climate, and indoor vs. outdoor pool. When looking into investing in a pool cover you have to consider factors such as how climate will affect the temperature loss of your pool water. You also need to consider how often you will be using your pool to recoup the energy savings of your cover investment. In warm climates, such as out west or down south, solar covers and auto covers are not as common since the average temperatures and sun exposure is much greater than in the northern and Midwest states. When living in colder areas, such as the Midwestern states, that have a shorter pool season, it is important to cover your pool surface in one way or another to help reduce high monthly energy bills. With average nightly temperatures being much lower your pool will evaporate more frequently causing energy loss and increasing heater bills throughout the season.

Roman shaped pool with solar cover

Selecting a color or transparency of your solar or auto cover also plays a large role into considering a pool cover. The United States Department of Energy has found that outdoor pools absorb 75-85% of the solar energy from the sun onto the pool surface.  A transparent cover may reduce pool solar energy absorption by 5-15%, if you cover your pool surface with an opaque cover you may reduce solar absorption by 20-40%.

Auto covers are the most preferred and most energy efficient ways to cover your pool. They are typically made from a high quality vinyl material that moves across the pool with a motorized mechanism driving the cover smoothly across the water. They are best for rectangle shaped pools but can go on other shapes, there are just more costs involved for configuring space for the cover track and tying it into the poolscape. Auto covers keep the highest amounts of heat and energy in your pool water because they leave virtually no part of the pool water surface exposed to the outdoor elements to be susceptible to evaporation. Not only do these auto cover systems help from an energy saving standpoint but there is also added safety to your pool as well if small children are around. When looking into an auto cover system you must consider the fact they are much more expensive and require periodic maintenance (fabric replacement, system tune-up) throughout the equipment’s lifespan in order to keep them at top performance.

Freeform with double deck auto cover

See more auto cover info.


When it comes down to it covering your pool is a no brainer as long as you like saving money! Living in a climate such as Wisconsin (like we do) it is recommended that you cover your pool water surface when not in use. There is also more information available online if you visit the United States Department of Energy website at https://energy.gov/energysaver/swimming-pool-covers .