The sound of falling water is relaxing, and the feature of an outdoor fountain can be eye-catching. Outdoor fountains run on pumps to create a dynamic element, so energy costs comprise the most significant chunk of their running expenses.
Many small to medium-sized fountains cost less than $50 monthly to run. You can compute your fountain’s energy costs by finding out the horsepower of your fountain’s pump, checking the watt per hour rates of your electricity provider and multiplying that rate by your pump’s wattage.
I’ll walk you through the details of estimating your outdoor fountain’s energy costs as well as how to cut these costs down. You’ll also learn some tips and tricks for maintaining your outdoor fountain and ensuring that it runs smoother.
Computing the Energy Cost of Your Fountain
Many small to medium-sized fountains use the same amount of energy as an LED bulb to run.
To find the running cost of your fountain, follow these steps:
1. Find Out the Horsepower of Your Fountain’s Pump
Most fountain pumps have a sticker with the information on them. This sticker will include facts about your pump such as wattage, voltage, and the amount of water your pump can move in gallons per hour.
It may be a good idea to record these numbers somewhere as the pump is usually submerged in your fountain’s water, and the numbers on the sticker can fade with time.
2. Check the Watt Per Hour Rates of Your Electricity Provider
Energy rates differ from state to state. You can check online for the different rates in your local area. However, to get the most accurate figure for your particular area’s watt per hour rate, check your most recent electricity bill.
3. Multiply the Watt Per Hour Rate to Your Pump’s Wattage
Multiply your electricity provider’s watt per hour rate to the wattage of your fountain’s pump. Once you find how much it costs to run your fountain per hour, you can multiply this by how many hours you plan to run it, then by how many days you want to have it running per year.
This will give you a reasonable estimate for your yearly energy cost for running your fountain.
Remember, energy rates are usually given in cents per kWh (kilowatt hour) which is 1,000 watts per hour. Keep this in mind when making your calculations.
Here’s a simple formula you can follow:
(Fountain wattage 1000 watts) Energy rate = Cost to run fountain per hour
For example, if your fountain pump’s wattage is 30W, and your energy rate is $0.12/kWh:
(30W 1000 watts) $0.12/kWh = $0.0036 per hour
You can run your fountain for less than a penny an hour! Let’s say you’ll run your fountain for 10 hours per day for 350 days a year:
$0.0036 per hour 10 hours 350 days = $12.60
In this example, you’d spend less than $13 a year on the energy costs of your outdoor fountain.
Energy.gov has its own calculator where you can input appliances, wattage, utility rate, hours used per day, and days used per year to help you calculate everything in a snap!
Should I Keep My Fountain on At All Times?
It is best to let your fountain run all the time after you have it installed. Turning your fountain on and off is harder on your fountain pump than continuously running it. Keeping it running also helps prevent algae from forming and keeps the water cleaner and clearer.
Turning your fountain off for long periods can allow more dirt and debris to gather faster. Stagnant water increases the chance of algae forming and insects like mosquitoes making their home in the water.
The cost of continuously running your fountain is not noticeably different from only running it during the day. Of course, remember that running costs are proportional to the fountain’s size.
Tips for Cutting on Fountain Energy Costs
Though many small to medium-sized fountains cost very little in terms of energy to run, it’s still a good idea to know how you can cut on energy costs:
Use Solar Panels
Solar panels give you an alternative energy source for your fountain. It’s also an environmentally friendly option.
Solar panels are another viable option because your fountain will be outdoors. You can buy a fountain with built-in solar panels or purchase external solar panels separately.
This Sunnydaze Solar-Powered Outdoor Water Fountain from Amazon.com needs only solar power to run and has a chargeable battery that can power your fountain on cloudy days.
Get the Correct Pump Size
Bigger isn’t always better. Too much horsepower will create too strong a flow of water and can unnecessarily bump your fountain’s energy costs.
A too-small pump won’t be able to move the water at an ideal rate for your fountain.
The GROWNEER Submersible Pump from Amazon.com is energy-saving and highly efficient, running on just 30W and having a max lift height of 7.2 feet (2.19 m).
Don’t Run Your Fountain During Peak Energy Hours
Peak energy hours are the hours in the day or night that many people will be using electricity for their appliances and other activities.
For example, during the summer, it may be more expensive to run your fountain when most people will be using their air conditioners.
Turn Off Other Non-Essential Appliances
Using the same concept, you shouldn’t run your fountain at the same time as you are running other appliances in your home.
Running your fountain while you’re using a lot of other appliances is a sure way to make your energy bill shoot up.
Outdoor Fountain Maintenance Tips
Make Sure Your Fountain Always Has Enough Water
Your pump can break down if you run it for too long with too little water. The size of the fountain combined with the humidity of your area will affect how much water you need to put in your fountain and how often you need to fill it.
Ensure that your pump is fully submerged in the water. If the sound of the pump is louder than the sound of falling water, it may be a sign that you need to add more water to your fountain.
If you’re concerned about water usage, we wrote a guide about outdoor fountain water conservation here. If this is a common concern, we also wrote about what to do if your fountain keeps losing water.
Keep an Eye on the Water’s Condition
Are any algae forming? Do you notice debris or dead leaves in it? Your fountain may need some cleaning and new water too. You can use algae inhibitors and cleansers to keep the water clear.
The Sanco Industries 88015 Fountain Algaecide from Amazon.com is a clarifier that is safe for surrounding wildlife, pets, and pond plants. However, it is not safe for fish.
Clean Your Fountain and Drain the Water Every Two to Four Months
When the water is drained, you can take out the pump and wipe it down. Check if any dirt has built up in your pump. Remove any debris like leaves and stones that have settled in your fountain and wipe down the basin using a sponge or other cleaning products.
After doing some thorough cleaning, put your pump back in your fountain before filling it with new and clean water.
Some fountains need to be cleaned weekly without having to replace the water. But some fountains may need more detailed cleaning. Check with your manufacturer if they have any recommendations for your fountain’s maintenance.
Many outdoor fountains use as much energy as an LED bulb and don’t cost much to run. However, if you are concerned about saving money on your energy bill, maintaining and cleaning your outdoor fountain periodically will significantly lower operating costs.
- Landscaping Planet: Do water fountains use a lot of electricity?
- Fountains Blog: Top 7 questions about water fountains- and their answers
- Carolina Country: Energy costs for outdoor water features
- Serenity Health: Water fountain FAQs
- Serenity Health: Outdoor Fountain care & Repair: Maintenance of garden fountains
- Serenity Health: Fountain Maintenance & Care
- Pacific Dreamscapes of San Diego: Top Tips on Easy Water Fountain Maintenance