Can You Heat a Natural Swimming Pool?

Written by Michael Dean
March 1, 2024

heated natural swimming pool

Imagine lounging in your backyard paradise, surrounded by lush greenery and crystal-clear water—your very own natural swimming pool. It’s the epitome of relaxation and eco-friendliness, but there’s one burning question on everyone’s minds: Can you actually heat a natural pool without messing up the ecosystem that keeps your pool clean and safe to swim in?

In this article, I will answer the above question and go over different methods of heating a natural swimming pool, the benefits of doing so, and more. Let’s dive in!

Main Takeaways

  • While heating extends your swimming season, it might harm the natural ecosystem of the pool, which can hurt friendly bacteria and organisms.
  • Factors such as local climate, direct sunlight, day-to-day weather conditions, and the size and depth of the pool can impact the natural temperature of a pool.
  • Heating options for natural pools include solar heater, heat pumps, ground-source heat pumps, and biomass boilers.
  • The benefits of heating a natural swimming pool include an extended swimming season, increased comfort, winter protection, and more.

Can You Heat a Natural Swimming Pool?

The short answer is yes. It’s certainly a great option to heat your natural swimming pool if you want to extend your swimming season a bit more. But hold your horses! This process requires some care. There are some important considerations to remember before you heat up a natural pool.

Natural swimming pools tend to be warmer on average than traditional ones. So, in some cases, the cost may not even be worth it, as a natural swimming pool may already be warm enough to swim in. However, the pool can still be too cool to swim in in the spring and fall months, so you’ll need to weigh whether or not investing in a heating system for your natural pool would be worth it or not.

Another major point of consideration is the pool’s complex, delicate ecosystem. You would need careful planning to heat a pond to minimize ecological disruption of the plants and other natural life. After all, these plants are how you keep your pool healthy and clean for swimming, so the last thing you want is to hurt the ecosystem!

Methods of Heating a Natural Swimming Pool

While natural swimming pools are sustainable and exciting alternatives to traditional chemical pools, extending your swimming season can be a challenge since it involves raising the temperature of the water to one that’s pleasant for human beings without harming the delicate ecosystem of the plants purifying your water. But don’t worry; there are ways to strike a balance.

Here are the heating options you should explore.

Solar Heater

Likely, a solar heater is the most popular option for heating a natural swimming pool. Solar heating is an eco-friendly option that uses solar panels to capture the energy of the sun to heat the water in the pool. In sunny regions, this is a super cost-effective investment that pays itself off in a few years. Conversely, if you live somewhere cloudy, you might be better off choosing another heating option.

Heat Pump

A great alternative to solar heating is a heat pump. Heat pumps work by extracting heat from the air via electricity and transferring it to the water. The process may be a bit slow but highly efficient and works even in colder climates – as long as the outside temperature remains around the 45- to 50-degree F mark. The upfront cost is a tad higher than a solar heater.

Gas Heater

The fastest way to heat your natural swimming pool is a gas heater. While I recommend a solar heater or heat pump over a gas heater, this can be a fast and relatively cost-effective heating method for your pool. These heaters work by warming the pool water by burning natural gas as the water pumps through the filter. This is the most effective heating method for colder climates.

Solar Cover

If you live in a relatively warm and mild climate, a great way to heat or, at least, insulate the pool is to use a solar cover. Using a solar cover when you are not using the pool can effectively trap the heat in the pool by 90 to 95%. These covers may be more cumbersome to deal with, but they are much cheaper than any other natural swimming pool heating method.

Tips for Heating a Natural Swimming Pool

Keep these points in mind when you’re exploring options:

  • Shallow pools are warmer: Pools that are small and shallow in depth can absorb and retain heat better. So, if you have a shallower pool, you won’t have to work as hard to keep your pool warm.
  • Optimize sun exposure: If you have not built your natural swimming pool yet and the water temperature is an important factor for you, you should design your pool to maximize sun exposure. Consider an area of your yard that receives plenty of sunlight. If the pool is already built, work with your backyard’s landscaping to maximize the pool’s exposure to the sun. On the flip side, keep in mind that optimizing sun exposure may mean you have to combat more algae.
  • Protect the pool from the wind: While you should expose your pool to the sun, you should protect it from the wind. Install or plant some kind of physical barrier to protect the pool area from strong winds, which can increase evaporation and cool the water.
  • Cover the pool at night: Use a pool cover at night to prevent heat loss through evaporation.

How Warm Can a Natural Swimming Pool Be?

Here’s the tricky part. You can’t simply warm the natural swimming pool to your perfect temperature. You must also ensure the water is comfortable enough for your aquatic plants. Aquatic plants will generally be impacted adversely by heat above 90ºF. So, try to keep the pool temperature in the 80s at most.

On the other hand, colder water can also affect your aquatic plants. You’ll find that most of the biological activity that takes place will pause once the water temperature reaches below 50ºF.

How Warm Can a Natural Swimming Pool Be Naturally?

Without the help of a pool heater, the warmth of a natural swimming pool depends on several factors.

Local climate, for instance, can dictate the base temperature of the pool, as well as how much exposure to the sun the pool gets. Then there’s the size and depth of the pool. Smaller and shallower pools heat faster and stay warmer than large, deep ones. Water circulation is another factor; healthy water circulation distributes heat evenly throughout the pool.

Interestingly, natural water feels more comfortable on the skin than chemical water in a traditional chlorine pool. For this reason, you’ll often find that a colder water temperature in a chlorine pool feels much more comfortable than in a natural swimming pool!

Benefits of Heating a Natural Swimming Pool

Warming a natural swimming pool offers several benefits for pool owners and can be extremely useful for several reasons. Here’s a quick look at them.

Extended Swimming Season

The most obvious advantage to heating a natural pool, of course, is an extended swimming season. Having control over the temperature of the water allows you to stretch the time when you’re able to use your pool by weeks, or even months, into cooler months, depending on your heating method and local weather conditions.


Of course, everyone enjoys a swim in warm, pleasant water. This is especially true for people with health conditions, such as arthritis or a lower tolerance to cold. Heating your pool makes it much more inviting and encourages you and your family to use it.

Promotes Aquatic Life

Maintaining a consistent and comfortable water temperature can support the growth and activity of aquatic plants and beneficial microorganisms, contributing to a healthier ecosystem within the natural pool.

Winter Protection

Keeping the heat running throughout winter lowers the risk of freeze damage. This is good for a variety of reasons: the pool equipment remains protected from damage, along with aquatic plant life that can be affected by extreme temperatures.

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Heat Your Natural Pool with Care

I know it can be tempting to stretch your swimming seasons for as long as possible, but you must approach it carefully. Of course, there are significant benefits, such as increased comfort and freeze protection, but you have to consider the ecosystem and your pool’s natural balance. If you find and strike the right balance, however, you can really reap the benefits of a beautiful, natural pool that lasts well beyond the usual swim season!

Any more questions about natural pools or heating systems? Drop me a message; I’ll be happy to help out!

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