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Come on in, the water’s fine

 Pool costs drop dramatically with heat pump water heaters

Chelan Hills residents enjoying a dip in the development’s swimming pools are unaware that something else is taking a dive, too – the cost of running those pools.

Heat pump water heaters installed at two pools operated by the Chelan Hills Homeowners Association are proving to be well worth the investment, said Steve Firman, association board vice president who headed up the project.

Chelan Hills residents enjoy this lakeside pool -- and significant energy savings.

Chelan Hills residents enjoy this lakeside pool — and significant energy savings.

The association maintains three parks and two pools for owners of its 500-plus properties and their guests. Before upgrading this spring, pool water was warmed using traditional resistance heaters. As anyone who’s ever tried to keep a pool at a constant 80 degrees knows, that can be a spendy prospect.

With the heat pump water heaters, energy costs for the pools have dropped by 70 percent compared to a year ago, said Jim White, senior energy efficiency engineer for Chelan PUD. That calculation is temperature-adjusted to account for the hot weather experienced in 2015.

Heat pump water heaters work by transferring heat from outside air to water. They’re energy-efficient and quiet.

Two heat pumps were installed at the largest, 54,000-gallon pool in the development’s Division II park. One heat pump is all that’s needed to warm the water at a smaller, 27,000-gallon pool in a small park on the Lake Chelan waterfront.

Firman said the association initially considered solar power but decided against that option due to the number of panels required to heat pools of that size. “The general rule of thumb is twice the surface area of the pool in panels,” he said, which seemed like too many panels for the grounds around either pool. However, “we may add some solar panels in the future to augment the heat pumps and reduce power consumption further,” he added.

Waterbury Pool and Spa of Wenatchee installed the Pentair heat pumps. Electrician Brian Harris of Chelan handled new and re-wiring.

The homeowners’ association spent $24,000 on the heat pump water heater upgrade. Chelan County PUD energy-efficiency incentives covered $11,500 of the cost.

The expected payback is up to five years, but Firman said given the outstanding performance of the heat pumps so far, he’s anticipating three to four years.

“The heat pumps heated the water up faster than expected, they provide consistent heated water, and they’re quiet,” Firman said. “Their performance has met or exceeded our expectations in every way.”

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