Are Water Features Expensive to Run? - Backyard Boss
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Are Water Features Expensive to Run?

Water features are an excellent addition to any wildlife-friendly garden. Since life can’t exist without water, you’ll notice all sorts of birds and other garden critters show up when you install a water feature. They don’t have to stay outside either. Some of the best indoor water feature ideas can be displayed right inside your home.

A question you might have is what do water features cost to run? Well, you’re in the right place, because the post below will break down the costs involved with running a water feature

The Answer You Don’t Want

Zen bamboo and rock water feature
Image credits: Jana via Pixabay

It’s the age-old “it depends”. In most cases, no, water features aren’t expensive to run.

Don’t worry, we won’t leave you hanging with that answer. Let’s take a closer look at what it depends on and how to reduce that cost.

Size of the pump

The biggest cost associated with running a water feature is the electricity cost of running the water pump. Water pumps come in many different shapes and sizes, and the size of the pump determines how much electricity is needed to run said pump.

Wattage of the pump

The detail you’re looking for is the wattage of the pump. The higher the wattage, the more electricity it needs to run. If you know how many watts per hour your pump uses, you can ask your energy provider to tell you how much you’re being charged per watt of electricity. You can then work out how much it’s costing you per hour of pump running time.

Cost of water

Another factor to consider in the cost of running a water feature is the cost of water. Water evaporates and will spill out of the water feature when birds or other critters are having a bath. Only you know how quickly your water feature runs out of water, so keep a close eye on how much you have to fill it up and how often to get an accurate reading on the water costs involved.

Reducing The Cost

Image credits: Tama66 via Pixabay

Now that we know how much it costs to run a water feature, let’s take a look at how to reduce those costs.

The first, and most obvious solution, is to reduce the size of the pump. Give an honest assessment of what you’re looking to get out of the water feature and what sized pump will help you achieve that goal.

Smaller pump

Most water features can run effectively on very small pumps that move a small amount of water around. These pumps don’t use much power and won’t make much of a difference on your power bill. Opt for these pumps where necessary.

Pump timer

If you want a high-powered water feature then you’ll have to have a large pump. If you’re looking to shoot fountains of water way up into the air, then you need a pump that can provide enough pressure to achieve that goal.

In this case, you could always put your pump on a timer. Only running the pump at certain times of the day will reduce the power costs of a large pump. Simple timing plugs are available at most hardware stores and don’t require any installation. Simply plug it in and set the times and you’re done.

This could also work for a water feature for a smaller pump. This would be particularly useful in situations where the sound of the pump or the sound of the running water could disturb people while sleeping. Putting the pump on a timer in this situation will eradicate this problem.

Solar power

Another way to reduce the power costs associated with your water pump is to harness the energy of the sun. There are many water pumps on the market nowadays that come with solar panels to run the pump. Another advantage of this is that you wouldn’t have to put the pump on a timer, as the electricity will run out when the sun goes down.

If you still want to run your solar-powered pump at night you’ll need a small battery to store enough energy to power the pump throughout the night.


Talking about the sun, the sun is also notorious for absorbing water. If evaporation of the water from your water feature is a problem in your area, try shielding your water feature from the sun by placing it in the shade. This won’t stop evaporation, but it will drastically reduce it.

Hidden Costs

Green lion water feature
Image credits: Xim O’Connell via Unsplash

The actual running of the water feature may not be expensive, but if you don’t keep up with the maintenance, you might incur some hidden costs down the line.

The biggest hidden cost when it comes to water features would be burned-out pumps. Most pumps inevitably burn out at the end of their lives, but there are a few things you can do to extend that life.

The most important thing to remember is to not let your pump run dry. Without water running over the impeller, the impeller will either melt or get so hot that it seizes up. Either way, the end result is a burned-out pump that won’t work.

To avoid this make sure your pump is always filled with water when it’s running. Keep an eye on the water level of your water feature and top it up as soon as you notice significant drops in the water level. You could install a float switch to automatically top the water level up if you want to fully automate the process.

Another thing to keep an eye on is making sure the pump is free from blockages. A filter basket around the inlet pipe into the pump can prevent any blockages before they become a major problem. Remember to clean this filter often.

Last Say

To recap, in most cases, water features are not expensive to run. The biggest factor to consider when looking at the cost of running your water feature is the size of the pump. Reducing the size of the power, or reducing the cost of the power that runs the pump, is the most effective way to reduce the cost of running a water feature.