How to Keep Your Pool Cool: 10 Best Ways & 2 Ways to Avoid!

Is your pool water getting too hot? Read this post to find out the best ways to keep your pool cool all summer long!

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Are you like me and countless other pool owners who are tired of their pool water getting too hot during the summer heat? You get in your pool expecting it to feel refreshing, but instead, it ends up feeling like a hot bath! 

Isn’t this annoying!? We spend all this money on the pool and can’t really use it like we want to when we need it the most!

Luckily there are some tried and true ways to drop the temperature of your pool water. Some ways are pretty simple and inexpensive, some can make a dent in your budget, and there are two ways that I strongly suggest avoiding. Also, if you are in the planning phases of building a new pool, I will offer some planning tips to incorporate shade into your pool. I’ll explain all this and more about each method!

So read below to learn how to keep your pool at a great temperature through the hottest summer days! 

When you are done reading below, come back and check out these posts:

👉 The best in-pool chairs for your pool’s tanning ledge

👉 The reasons your new pool needs a tanning ledge (also called a sun shelf or Baja shelf)

Best Ways to Cool Your Pool

Quick Summary

  • Please don’t try to cool your pool by adding ice or by draining and refilling your pool. It’s just a waste of time, money, and effort.
  • Adding shade of any kind is the best way to cool your pool because it will keep direct sunlight from heating up your pool water.
  • Running your pool pump and your water features overnight will help keep water cool through evaporative cooling and constant water circulation.
  • Chillers can be a great option if you can afford it
  • In some cases, you will need to use a couple of these options at the same time (shade and running water features) to feel a significant difference in your pool’s water temperature.
  • If you are in the planning phases of building a backyard pool, make sure you plan for shade around your pool or additional equipment to keep your pool cool!

10 Best Ways to Keep Your Pool Water Cool (no particular order):

  1. In-Pool Umbrella
  2. Cantilever Umbrella
  3. Shade Sails
  4. Plant Tall Trees
  5. Run Your Pool Pump Overnight
  6. Run Your Pool Fountains and Water Features 
  7. Add a Pool Fountain / Water Feature to Your Pool
  8. Add a Pool Chiller
  9. Add a Heater/Cooler Combo (Reverse Cycle Heat Pump)
  10. Use Reflective Covers

What is a Comfortable Pool Temperature?

A comfortable temperature for a pool varies from person to person. But in general, most people feel comfortable swimming in a pool with water temperatures between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Some people still opt for temperatures below 80 degrees, and others can tolerate water over 90 degrees depending on the air temperature outside. However, going way above 90 degrees will diminish the refreshing feeling, and you will feel like you’re swimming in hot water.

2 Ways to NOT Cool Your Pool Water

Before we get into the ten best ways to cool your pool water, let’s first discuss two ways you should definitely avoid. These might be recommended by other websites and people, but I think these are a big waste of time and money!

#1 Avoid: Add Ice to Get Cool Pool Water

✅ Pros:
  • None
❌ Cons:
  • Too much ice is needed to have a real effect
  • Way too expensive for very little benefit
  • Temperature drop does not last that long

People often add ice to their drinks to cool them down, so adding ice to your pool water should, in theory, do the same thing, right? 

Nope. Don’t do this! Adding ice to your pool is not an effective way of cooling the water.

Slate has a formula for how many pounds of ice and the associated cost it takes to cool a pool. We have synthesized this method into six steps:

  1. Find the pool’s volume in gallons of water

  2. Divide volume by 1,000

  3. Multiply by Fahrenheit degree change in pool water temperature

  4. Multiply by 43.75 to find lbs of ice needed to cool the pool

  5. Divide by 10 to find the number of 10lbs bags of ice needed

  6. Multiply by the price of a 10lbs bag to find the cost of ice

Let’s say your pool has a capacity of 15,000 gallons, you want to lower your pool temperature by 5 degrees, and the average price of a 10lbs bag of ice is $3. Following the steps above:

  1. 15,000

  2. 15,000 / 1,000 = 15

  3. 15 x 5 = 75

  4. 75 x 43.75 = 3,281.25 lbs of ice!

  5. 3,281.25 / 10 = 328.13

  6. 328.13 x 3 = $984!

That’s nearly $1,000 to cool your pool, and it won’t last longer than a day or even a few hours! Then you’ll need to repeat the process all over again. Using ice will take a lot of time, money, and effort to achieve the desired temperature.

I think there are much better methods to lower your pool water temperature.

#2 Avoid: Drain and Refill Your Pool

✅ Pros:
  • None
❌ Cons:
  • It can take too long to drain and refill your pool
  • It will cost a lot of money to refill your pool
  • You will have to rebalance your pool chemicals when new water is added
  • The temperature change will not last that long

Another solution that some people opt for is to completely drain the water from their pool and then refill it with fresh, cold water from the water source for their house. While this method may be temporarily effective, it is time-consuming and costly. 

Imagine having to drain your swimming pool water daily in hot months. This is a short-term solution and not a practical one. Plus, this can make your pool maintenance more difficult as you will have to rebalance your pool chemicals to account for the large amount of fresh, untreated water in your pool.

10 Best Ways to Cool Your Pool Water

Cooling your pool during the hottest months of the year doesn’t have to be difficult. There are a variety of ways that you can keep your pool water cool and comfortable for swimming. 

The first several ways on this list are about adding shade over your pool. Introducing shade to your pool is one of the simplest and most effective ways to cool the water because it keeps the sun from heating your water and will cool the water. Plus, the added patio umbrellas or other shade options can give your pool a more inviting look. 

#1. In-Pool Umbrella

✅ Pros:
  • Puts shade right in your pool
  • There are many budget-friendly market umbrellas that can go in a pool
❌ Cons:
  • If you don’t have an in-pool umbrella hole or in-pool table with an umbrella hole, you are out of luck with this option.
  • The shaded area might not be big enough to have a dramatic effect on the whole pool.
BLUU Outdoor Patio Umbrella
View on Amazon View on Bluu

If you have an in-pool umbrella hole in your pool or an in-pool table with an umbrella holder, putting your umbrella up in the pool is an easy and cost-effective way to add shade to cool your pool.

It would be best if you had an umbrella that can withstand the elements. Sunbrella fabric offers perfect UV protection, is fade-resistant, and comes with a 5-year warranty.

✨ Pro Tip: Only certain umbrella materials should be used in a pool. Read our roundup of some of the best in-pool umbrellas for these materials and umbrella recommendations.

👉 Need an in-pool table with an umbrella hole? Check out our list of the best in-pool tables!

#2. Cantilever Umbrella

✅ Pros:
  • Allows you to put shade right over the pool where you need it the most
  • If you have a cantilever umbrella with a moveable base, you can you the umbrella to the right spot around your pool
❌ Cons:
  • These umbrellas can be a bit pricey compared to regular market umbrellas
  • May need extra storage space for these umbrellas when you don’t want them near the pool
PURPLE LEAF Cantilever Umbrella
  • Base in picture is not included
View on Amazon

A cantilever umbrella allows you to overhang shade from a side of your pool, giving your pool the perfect amount of shade. You can either have permanent holes in your deck for a cantilever umbrella or you can find a cantilever umbrella with a moveable base.

To use a moveable cantilever umbrella, make sure that you buy an umbrella base that is heavy enough to keep the entire structure steady in windy weather.

You also need to consider how much wind is in your area when choosing the size of your umbrella. A 10-foot umbrella may be too big to keep steady in a windy climate.

#3. Shade Sail

✅ Pros:
  • You can shade a large area with a shade sail
  • There are plenty of affordable shade sail options
  • Shade sails can last a long time once they are put up
❌ Cons:
  • Putting up a shade sail is usually a two-person effort, so it takes some skill and time to get it right.
  • You may need to add mounting locations (e.g., posts) to your backyard to make a shade sail work.
Covers&All Waterproof Shade Sail
View on Covers&All

A sail shade is one of the best options because it will give you the most coverage for your pool. You can hang up a shade sail over nearly any part of your pool as long as you have the right mounting locations for a shade sail (this can be the side of your house, a post, or a tree). Additionally, these can be hung when you want to swim, then taken down when you are done swimming – but this will require some extra effort to put up and take down constantly.

You can also get creative with the shape, size, and color of your sail shade. Some people opt for a square or rectangle, while others prefer a more triangular shape.

#4. Plant Tall Trees

✅ Pros:
  • Permanent shade all year round.
  • Add natural aesthetics and beauty to your backyard.
❌ Cons:
  • It can be expensive to add trees.
  • Falling tree leaves and other debris into your pool will greatly increase your regular pool maintenance.

If you have the room in your backyard, adding tall trees in the right location can be a great option to add a permanent shade for your pool. The trick here is making sure you plant trees in the right location to actually cast a shadow over your pool. This may not be feasible for some, and in some cases, you may have to wait a few years for the trees to actually grow tall enough to put enough shade on your pool.

#5. Run Your Pool Pump Overnight

✅ Pros:
  • Low effort and a simple option; just make sure your pool pump runs throughout the night.
❌ Cons:
  • Running your pump will require more electricity, which will lead to a higher electric bill.
  • Extra noise from your pump during the night may annoy your neighbors.

At night, temperatures drop, and the cool night air begins to cool off your pool naturally. The easiest way to take advantage of the cooler temperatures and improve this cooling effect for the next day is to run your pool pump overnight. Running your pump will allow more water to be circulated to be cooled by cooler air and the cool ground through the piping running through the ground to your pump. 

#6. Run Your Pool's Fountains and Water Features

✅ Pros:
  • Low effort and a simple option; just turn on your fountains and water features – it’s just a flip of a switch or push of a button. 
❌ Cons:
  • Running these water features will require more electricity, which will lead to a higher electric bill.
  • There will be extra noise from these water features when they are on; some may not like this through the night.

Another you may want to consider is running your pool’s water features overnight and during the day. Running the water through your water features exposes more water to air, allowing more heat in the water to escape through evaporative cooling, helping to lower your pool’s temperature.

The more surface area of water exposed to air, the more evaporation will occur. Thus, running more water through your fountains, waterfalls, and other water features can help you drop your pool water temperature a few degrees. If you couple this method with running your pool pump overnight, you can achieve a significant decrease in pool temperature.

How much the temperature will decrease depends on the size of your pool, how many features you have, and how long you can run your water features. Additionally, this process works better in dry climates than in humid climates, as humidity can hinder evaporation.

In the end, you will lose a small portion of your pool’s water to evaporation, but this water loss is a small price to pay for comfort on hot summer days and nights.

#7. Add a Fountain / Waterfall to Your Pool

✅ Pros:
  • Many options are available to purchase that can work with any pool type.
  • These options can be very budget friendly
❌ Cons:
  • Might not get too much of a temperature impact from just one additional waterfall. You might need to add a couple.
ZCONIEY Swimming Pool Water Fountain
View on Amazon

Does your pool not have a water feature or a waterfall like the ones discussed in the option above? No worries! You can still add one (or multiple) to help to create cool water for your pool. There are many water fountain/waterfall options that you can connect to the water return jets, creating a waterfall that cools the pool through evaporation.

These water features also add aesthetic appeal to your pool area. Some come equipped with LED pool light features that can add an extra bit of ambiance to your pool at night.

If you don’t have a water feature, consider adding one. It’s a great way to improve the look and function of your pool. If you already have built-in waterfalls or water features in your pool, you can still add these to help cool your pool.

#8. Add a Pool Chiller

✅ Pros:
  • On-demand water cooling at any time of day and year.
  • Simple to use and turn on
❌ Cons:
  • Expensive option. Chillers can cost at least $2,000. 
  • May require additional maintenance

A pool chiller is a piece of equipment designed to lower the temperature of the water as water is pumped through the chiller. It does this by evaporating some of the water, which takes heat away from the rest of the water.

This is a great way to lower the temperature of your pool if you are looking for more of a ‘push-button’ approach. You simply turn on the chiller and let it do the work.

A pool chiller can be a great option in hot climates. They tend to work well despite the high heat and humidity levels. Depending on the size of your pool, a pool chiller can cost at least $2,000.

However, you must make sure you get the right size chiller for your pool. If you get one too small, it may take too long to cool your pool, or you may not notice a difference at all.

#9. Add a Heater/Cooler Combo (Reverse Cycle Heat Pump)

✅ Pros:
  • On-demand water cooling at any time of day and year.
  • Can be cheaper than getting a separate heater and chiller piece of equipment
  • Simple to use and turn on
❌ Cons:
  • Can be an expensive option, especially if you didn’t plan on getting a pool heater
  • May require additional maintenance

If you are getting a heater for your pool, you might want to consider a heater/cooler equipment combo. There are several options on the market for a piece of equipment that can heat and cool your pool. These go by the names like heater/cooler combo, reversal cycle heat pump, reversible heat pump, etc.

The heater/cooler pump combo works by heating up water if it’s too cool, allowing you to use the pool comfortably in colder months. In the hotter months, it does the reverse and takes the heat out of the pool water to cool it down. In some cases, getting this combo may be cheaper than having two separate pieces of equipment.

This is a very efficient way to heat and cool your pool because you only use one piece of equipment. 

#10. Use Reflective Covers

✅ Pros:
  • Directly covers the water to keep it cool
  • Effectively cools pool water, if you cover enough of your pool water
❌ Cons:
  • Can be a bit expensive if you have a large pool

The final way to keep your pool cool is to use reflective covers. You may be familiar with pool solar covers to keep pool water warm, but there are similar options to keep your pool cool. One such product is called Lily Chillers.

Reflective covers work by reflecting the sun’s rays away from your pool. This prevents the sun from heating your pool water. They also save you from buying chemicals because they block light from burning down your chemicals before they have a chance to work.

How To Plan for Cool Water for Your New Pool

If you are in the planning phases of adding a new pool to your backyard, follow these tips to plan for how you can keep your pool temperature at the right temperature throughout the hot days of summer. 

  1. Use natural shade to affect pool placement. As you are figuring out where you want to put a pool in your backyard, check to see where you get shade in your backyard during the summer. Based on where you get shade, figure out how you want to place your pool to take advantage of this shade. Also, figure out where you want the seating options near your pool to be affected by this shade too.
  2. Add in-pool umbrella holes and umbrella holes in your pool deck. You really can’t go wrong by adding in-pool umbrella holes to your tanning ledge (also called sun shelf). These can provide much-needed shade right in the pool. Plus, add some permanent umbrella holes around the edge of your pool so you can place cantilever umbrellas to overhang shade in areas of your pool that don’t get natural shade. Add holes like this shouldn’t cost much at all, and you will quickly realize the value once you start to use the pool. 
  3. Make sure you add waterfalls or other water features. Not only do these features add to the aesthetics and style of your pool, they can be a great way to cool the water of your pool.
  4. Get a Chiller or Heater/Cooler combo piece of equipment. Discuss with your pool builder the option to add cooling equipment to your pool. If you have the space for the equipment and the budget, this can be a worthwhile investment.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the above options for cooling your pool work better to provide long-term solutions for keeping your pool cool rather than a short-term solution that will only work for a day or two to most. By using one or more of the options above, you can be sure to enjoy your pool all summer long without having to worry about the water being too hot on the hottest days of summer.

Hi, I'm Ashley!

Hi, I'm Ashley!

I started Live Your Best Backyard to share my (and my family's) hands-on experience and countless hours of research on all things backyard to help you find the best products, ideas, tips, and information for your backyard!

Read More About Me
Hi, I'm Ashley!

Hi, I'm Ashley!

I started Live Your Best Backyard to share my (and my family's) hands-on experience and countless hours of research on all things backyard to help you find the best products, ideas, tips, and information for your backyard!

Read More About Me
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