We're ordering our 2-speed 1hp pump on Friday and will install in the next couple of weeks. We're doing this so we can leave ours running on low 24/7 year 'round. We hard-plumbed the returns and will hard-plumb the rest of it when we install the new pump. Our pool is exposed to the north wind and high winds and it sits on an acre, with lots of room for the winds to pick up speed. We only buried the pvc about 6-8' (since we hand-trenched it) and there will be no wall or anything to protect the equipment or other hard-plumbed pvc coming off the pump and filter (unless I can twist DH's arm to get it built). Will the pump on low be able to circulate it well enough to keep any/all of it from freezing? You never know in Texas! Sometimes we get several days of really freezing cold and other times, we never even knew winter was here!
After reading on here about covers, I think I decided that we don't want to cover it, except for during the pollen season, where the bees might drown trying to get the pollen off the water!