At this time of year, the weather is changing—temperatures are dropping, days are shorter, and there are fewer bikini clad people sunbathing at the pool. Right now in California (in the heat of budget season), we always get into deep discussions around heating the pool year round. Heating a normal, apartment community pool in the winter adds a significant amount of expense to the P&L for whatever energy source you are using.
I am told that a warm pool in the winter is an amenity; it adds to the luxury of the community. I am told that it is a great selling point if on a tour of a community, the prospective renter can dip their hand in the pool and have the water be warm. We believe that that warm water tells a prospective renter that they are going to feel taken care and comfortable at our community. They will not want thingy things if they live at our community, because they will have the intangibles that a warm pool in the winter can provide. If we heat it, they will will come.
I think that this should not be the primary reason for heating a pool. When considering year round heating for your pool, I really think we should consider the demographic that we already have at each specific community, and make this decision on a site by site basis. The questions that we should be asking ourselves regarding heating a pool in the winter should look like this: “Should I heat my pool in the winter?” “Will my current residents use it?” “Will my residents renew leases if I heat the pool?” If your answers to those questions are no, then consider turning that heater off in the winter and reducing the hours per day your pool pump runs. You will save thousands of dollars in energy expenses and positively improve your NOI. If your current residents are water worshipers and swim all year round, then fire up that heater (and raise the temperature a degree or two); you will get a return on your costs with your renewals—any new renters above that will be sort of a “free gift with purchase.”