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                               How Expensive Are Water Features?

How expensive is a waterfeature to install and run?

Construction costs

Water features range in scale from small self-contained resin features costing perhaps a few hundred pounds to install, up to large complex pool features costing tens of thousands of pounds, with a whole spectrum inbetween.

In general, the more work required around the pool edge (expanses of paving, or carefully placed specimen rocks), and the more soil that needs to be moved, the more the feature will cost. Simple wildlife ponds without fish may require little or nothing in the way of pumps and filters, whereas large specialist koi pools can have intricate filter and plumbing systems costing as much as the rest of the pool.

Maintenance

When it comes to running a pool, any given area of pond is likely to require as much attention as a similar area of planted garden. It will benefit from a tidy and a trim of the plants a couple of times a year, with a spot of weeding inbetween, topping up with water in the summer, and a more major clean/tidy perhaps every five to ten years. Keep out autumn leaves with a cover net to significantly reduce future maintenance.

Running costs for fish

Feeding a couple of dozen adult goldfish in an outdoor pond with a good quality pond pellet food might cost in the region of twenty to thirty pence per day - pondfish do not need to be fed during the winter. (see When and How should I feed my fish?www.watergardensolutions.co.uk

Running costs for pumps

Pond pumps have become much more efficient over the past twenty years, but a fair amount of power will always be required to move substantial volumes of water. With electricity costs virtually doubling since 2021 it makes sense to choose wisely (more efficient equipment), and use wisely (only when appropriate).

As a guide, electric costs for:

  • A small spouting frog ornament (9w) --- 8p per day
  • The very smallest in-pond filter/UV system (18w) --- 17p per day
  • A 55watt UV lamp --- 51p per day
  • A medium sized, 30cm wide, waterfall 1m high (60w) --- 55p per day
  • A large cascade (20,000 lph) using a general ‘sump’ pump (950w) --- 8.74 per day*
  • A large cascade (20,000 lph) using a pond cascade pump (350w) --- 3.22 per day*
  • A large cascade (20,000 lph) using a pond cascade pump ‘Eco’ model (200w) --- 1.84 per day*
  • as a general rule ....
  • For every 100 watts of power consumption --- 92p per day (337 per year)

This is based on running the pump 24 hours per day, at a typical energy price of 38.5 pence per unit (the UK average from Oct ‘22 including standing charge, VAT, and the government price cap - UK gov Sept 22. Note that prices vary, some suppliers may charge less or more than this figure, and it is based on including the electrical standing charge of 165/yr spread out over an average household use of 3,600kWh per year.)

*The three pump examples shown @20,000 lph show the importance of choosing the right pump for the job. The newer, high-efficiency pumps on the market can significantly reduce running costs, though these pumps may be more expensive to purchase initially, and may not always have the “oomph” of more power-hungry models. If you just need to aerate the pond water, an external air pump (with airstones) will usually be cheaper to run than a water pump.       ©

Saving electricity - Using wisely

Biological filter systems generally need to be run year-round, 24hrs per day, but savings can be made by running other water features and lights only when required. For example, using a timer to run a decorative fountain from 7 - 9am in the morning and 5 - 11pm in the evening, five days a week, and from 8am - 11pm at weekends would give an almost 60% saving over running the pump full time, and could also prolong the life of the pump.

Some pumps have variable electronic flow controls, or seasonal/temperature control options. Use these to reduce flow (and power consumption) e.g. in the winter, when fish and filters do not require as much circulation.

If a biological filter is well established and well maintained, it might be possible to turn off associated UV units for much of the year, saving energy without any drop in water clarity. The UV might only prove necessary at the start of the season; or during especially sunny summers; or on ponds heavily stocked with fish. (Check with the manufacturer. Some UV units could be more vulnerable to damp corrosion if not run during the winter.)

Saving electricity - Choosing wisely

When existing equipment needs replaced. Seek out more efficient units, and those with energy saving systems. Equipment should note the energy consumption (wattage / P1) on the label. Some pumps have variable or seasonal flow controls that can be used to cut back on flow and running costs. Some UV units turn off the lamp during cooler weather, saving electricity, and lamp life. LED garden lighting will use less electricity than old halogen lamp equivalents, though old transformers might need to be upgraded at the same time.

The widely available, small solar-panel driven pumps use no mains electricity. However, most are currently only capable of driving the smallest fountain/trickler pumps and cannot always run reliably throughout a 24 hour period, even with battery storage. 

Water Costs

For most small ponds and features, the cost of topping up is insignificant, and will cost you no more on your bill if you are on an unmetered supply. However, if you are on a water meter then larger ponds can have notable costs associated with filling and topping up. If you have a very large pond or permanently fixed top-up plumbing, then the water company usually requires you to be on a metered supply. We strongly recommend, and use, rain-water top-ups on most of our larger pond-project new-builds.

Metered water accounts have a charge for the water supplied, and there is usually a related additional charge assuming that your home’s waste water enters the sewerage system. In the Severn Trent area these combined charges equate to around 2.72 for every cubic metre (220 gallons / 1000 litres) of water supplied to domestic properties. (Slightly less (2.48) in the Thames Water region). Prices are an estimate only, based on 2022-23 rates, and exclude the standing charges and additional charges for surface water drainage.

If running costs or environmental impact are of particular importance to you we can design your pool system to suit - Contact Us to discuss your requirements.

See more Frequently Asked Questions

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