An automatic pool cover not only provides peace of mind and cleanliness, but it also saves money in the long run.

A pool cover will prevent detritus and other debris from seeping into and accumulating in a pool, but a top-of-line pool cover can actually save owners money in the long run.

While manual covers are still manufactured, the way to go is automatic for ease and convenience. Bruce Grogg, president and CEO of Utah-based Pool Cover Specialists says, “If the pool cover is too difficult or takes too long to put on and take off, homeowners won’t use it. If they don’t use it, they won’t get any of the benefits.”

The advantages of using a pool cover are many, says Barry Greenwald, vice president of sales for Cover Pools, a leading pool cover outfitter, which Greenwald says represents about 33 percent of the automatic pool-cover market; its founder, Joe Lamb, is often credited as having invented and patented the automatic pool cover. “Covers keep the pool clean and costs down; a cover can cut operating costs on a pool by 70 percent,” he says. There’s even an app for that—really! The Swimming Pool Energy and Water Savings Calculator from Pool Cover Specialists is available on iPhones and Androids and shows how an automatic pool cover can save homeowners as much as $4,000 per year and 20,000 gallons of evaporated water.

Greenwald likens a pool without a cover to a house without a roof. “Warm air escapes,” he says. (It’s easy chemistry: chemicals dissipate, water evaporates, heat rises.) A good cover can keep a swimming pool seven degrees warmer than if it goes uncovered.

Though saving money is always a nice benefit, pool covers—for a family, in particular—offer peace of mind in that they prevent drowning. The cover acts as a horizontal fence, completely sealing off the pool and preventing access to the pool by children and pets.

Cover Pools’ top-of-the-line cover is its Save-T 3 automatic safety pool cover. Each cover is customized for the size and shape of an owner’s pool and can be controlled by the turn of a key or the push of a button. There are 11 colors to choose from, so matching the cover to the pool deck is a snap. “We have a popular grey cover that goes great with grey stone decking,” Greenwald says.

For ocean homes, a common tandem is the pool/spa combo. Cover PoolsÂ’ Autosave Spa Cover offers the same safety and energy-saving benefits as a full-size automatic pool cover but with a more compact mechanical system; it retails from $4,000.

Pool Cover Specialists offers its Infinity 4000 automatic pool-cover system that fits both free-form and rectangular pools, and it can be used on both new and existing pools.

When it comes to choosing electric or hydraulic pool covers, Gregg says, “It’s like automobile manufacturers: They all sell cars; it’s just the models and the accessories that are different, but they all work generally the same. In the end, it comes down to personal preference, in many cases.” Grogg says that hydraulic systems work best on larger pools. When retracted, these pool covers literally disappear into thin air, hidden inside housing units or vaults that are typically built in below the pool deck.

Note: It might seem obvious, but installing an automatic pool cover is almost always a job best reserved for the professionals. Homeowners should consult their pool builder or home contractor, who will have relationships with the varied distributors.