Those new to hot tub ownership often wonder what to expect when it comes to ongoing costs. The answer really depends on a number of things – which hot tub brand and model you own, which water care system you chose, and how often you use the spa. Being educated about ongoing costs before you buy can help you choose a model that will give you the greatest value over time.
How Much Does it Cost to Run a Hot Tub?
This frequently asked question depends on where you live, what the climate is like in any given time of season, how big or small a hot tub you buy and how often you use your hot tub. The cost for electricity is different in every part of the country and changes often. Our hot tub energy calculator is capable of giving you a ballpark estimate of what the average monthly operating costs of a hot tub could be in your area of the U.S.
What makes a hot tub model energy efficient?
Choose a spa model with energy-efficient features that keep energy costs low. Some of the things to look for in the most energy efficient hot tub models include:
- A fully insulated hot tub cabinet The more insulation or the heavier the density of the insulation, the better.
- A dedicated circulation pump Some hot tubs do not have a dedicated circulation pump. This important energy saving feature circulates spa water 24 hours a day using very little energy. Without it, the much larger jet pumps are required to turn on and circulate the water throughout the day, which leads to higher energy costs.
- A tight-fitting insulated foam spa cover Look for a hot tub cover with extra insulation at the center hinge – which is where hot air is most likely to escape.
- LED lights can also help reduce energy costs Better brands of hot tubs will come with LED lighting systems that not only save energy but add to the hot tub experience.
Of course your climate will also impact your energy costs. If you live in a region with extreme winters, it will be even more important for you to choose a hot tub with excellent energy efficiency – not only to keep costs low, but also to ensure you’ll use your hot tub through those cold winter months.
Should I turn the temperature down on my hot tub when not in use?
It really depends how often you are going to use your hot tub. If you use your spa every day then it will cost you more to heat the water back up every day when you want to use it. If you are going away or don't intend on using your hot tub for a longer period then it is advisable to turn the temperature down. Well designed hot tubs like ours are designed to be highly energy efficient. So much so that it costs more to reheat the water back up to temperature when you turn it down. If you have to wait for the water to heat back up again you may not use your hot tub as often.
How much do hot tub chemicals cost per month?
There are a wide variety of water care options available. The three most commonly used systems are traditional bottled water care (good), a combination of Ozone, Silver and MPS (better), and automated salt water systems like the FreshWater® system from Hot Spring® (best). Each of these systems requires a different level of interaction from the spa owner, and comes at a different cost.
Traditional water care is the most inexpensive approach and has served many spa owners very well for 30 years. Depending on your spa usage, traditional water care can typically cost about $20/month.
If you opt to upgrade to an Ozone system, you will find that you do a little bit less work to maintain your spa water, and the cost per month breaks down to be just slightly higher than that of traditional water care.
Use Your Hot Tub More
Of course the more often you use your spa, the more energy you will consume and the more you will spend on water care. Is it cost you are worried about, or are we really talking about value? The more you use your spa, the greater the value is, and the more you get for the money you spent. It makes a lot of sense to spend more up front on a spa that offers energy-efficient features that reduce operating costs, and features a water care system that makes using the spa more enjoyable. Consider the cost-value equation when trying to determine how much you should spend on a hot tub.
If you are about to purchase a hot tub, you may be wondering if the spot you picked is just right. In addition to considering the logistical requirements, having a beautiful view may not be the most important factor. Here are a few things to consider when choosing the best spot for your hot tub or spa:
Install your Hot Tub in Close Proximity to Your Door
Do you have a spot at the far end of your backyard with an idyllic view you think would be perfect for your hot tub? We are here to tell you to think again. How often you use your spa is directly related to how close your spa is to your back door. On a dark morning, or when it's freezing outside, are you really going to trek across the yard to get in the hot tub every day? Position your spa in close proximity to your home - near the back door or a door coming out of your bedroom. You will want your hot tub to be just a few steps away. If you are worried about noise, then be sure to choose a model with a dedicated circulation pump that quietly circulates the water 24 hours a day, eliminating the need for loud filtration cycles.
Consider Your Privacy When Using Your Hot Tub
No matter how much you like your neighbors, you may not be able to truly relax in your spa if you think they might be peeking at you through the windows. There are a variety of things you can do to create a little more privacy between you and the people next door. Talk to your dealer about hot tub cover lifter options that are designed to stand the cover upright when opened, creating an instant privacy wall. Many dealers offer privacy panels and outdoor rooms that you can position around your spa to create a more secluded-feeling outdoor space. Another option is to consider planting a wall of greenery - like shrubs or bamboo - which will not only create a visual barrier but can also help absorb sound.
Get A Backyard Consultation
Still not quite sure where the best spot is for your new hot tub? Ask your dealer if they offer a backyard consultation service. Many dealers will come visit your home to assess installation requirements and help you select a spot that ensures you will have that Absolute Best Hot Tub Ownership Experience®.
The words “hot tub”, “spa”, and “jetted bathtub” are often used interchangeably to describe three very different products - in-ground spas, above-ground portable spas also known as hot tubs, and jetted bathtubs. Allow us to provide some clarification on the difference and nomenclature.
Not to be confused with a day spa, the term spa is often used to describe an in-ground spa. An in-ground spa is a body of water built into the ground, much like an in-ground pool. In residential settings, in-ground spas are usually built attached to the in-ground pool and are also what you are most likely to see at a hotel or gym. In-ground spas typically have a bench seat and a few jets built-in around the perimeter. They take a long time to heat up, and require a significant amount of energy to keep hot.
Hot tub is typically used to refer to an above-ground portable spa. A hot tub or portable spa is a completely self-contained vessel. All of the plumbing, as well as the electrical control system and other components, are built inside the hot tub cabinet. This means that there is no plumbing required. A hot tub is filled with a garden hose, can be drained anytime, and can even be relocated to a new home if you move.
One of the best thing about hot tubs is their ability to hold a set temperature. Thanks to advancements in technology, you can set a selected temperature and expect your hot tub to be hot and ready to use anytime you are. There is no need to wait for the hot tub to heat up.
Hot tubs can range from very simple designs with a few jets, to intricate acrylic shells with an extremely high jet count. Hot tubs today have come a long way from the round redwood vessels of the past, and generally offer a much better experience than in-ground spas because they are more comfortable, more energy efficient, easier to care for, and provide better massage.
Much like Kleenex® and Xerox®, Jacuzzi® is a brand name that is sometimes incorrectly used as a generic term. The word "jacuzzi" is often heard when referring to an in-ground spa, a jetted bathtub, or an above ground portable spa or hot tub. The Jacuzzi brothers invented the first underwater jet, originally used in bathtubs, and called it a Jacuzzi jet. The Jacuzzi® brand today is a trademark for bathtubs as well as portable hot tubs - but since Jacuzzi® is a brand name, it's a good thing to remember that not every hot tub or jetted bathtub is a Jacuzzi® product.
Choosing a hot tub brand can be difficult, especially since most people have very little knowledge about the hot tub category. Here are a few things to consider as you try to answer the question “What is the best hot tub brand for me?”
Should I Buy a Hot Tub Online or In-store?
One of the questions many hot tub shoppers have is, who is going to answer any questions I have about my new hot tub, or help me if I run into any issues? If this question has crossed your mind, then you should select a brand that is sold through a local hot tub dealer. An experienced and knowledgeable hot tub dealer can ensure that you know everything you need to know before selecting and purchasing a hot tub. They will take care of delivery and installation, and teach you about water care and maintenance. With their guidance you will have an excellent hot tub ownership experience and get the most value from your hot tub.
HOT TUB REVIEWS FROM CUSTOMERS
There is nothing better than being able to read product reviews from real customers. Check on the hot tub manufacturer's website for star ratings, and be sure to read reviews on a model before you choose it. Often products will have a mix of positive and negative reviews. When this happens you also have a chance to see how the brand responds to customers when there is a problem. It may be better to choose a spa that has mixed reviews and a manufacturer that cares rather than one that has no reviews, since there is no way to know what those customers have actually experienced.
THIRD-PARTY SPA REVIEWS
There are a limited number of sources that provide unbiased third-party reviews of hot tub brands. SpaSearch.org is an independent organization that surveys retailers about the hot tub brands they sell, and awards deserving brands (those that deliver exceptional quality, innovative products, great value and customer care) with their trade-certified designation.
Consumers Digest evaluates the hot tub category every four years, and each year they designate a select number of brands and models as Consumers Digest best buys.
HOT TUB FORUMS
An often overlooked resource, there are a couple of online forums where hot tub professionals and hot tub enthusiasts come together to discuss various topics related to hot tubs. What's The Best Hot Tub is a site where shoppers, owners, and experts discuss brands, prices, and technical issues related to hot tubs. While there are personal biases that you should be careful of, you can get a good sense of a brand's reputation on a forum like this.
FOCUS ON FEATURES THAT MATTER
Think about what is most important to you when it comes to choosing a hot tub. Is the lowest price what you are after, or are you looking to invest in a product that will last you for ten years or more? Are you in an area where the winters are extreme? Then make sure energy efficiency is a part of your selection criteria. Do you have sensitive skin, or concerns about water maintenance? If so, find a brand that offers a more natural or more hands-free approach to water care. It is easy to get distracted by things like jet count, fancy lighting, and other bells and whistles. These features can enhance your experience, but only if they are on a quality hot tub.
Lastly, choose a brand that has been around for a long time. While some hot tub manufacturers have been around for 40 years, many have not. You want your hot tub to last a long time, and you will expect that the brand you choose will be there to support you with parts and service for the life of your hot tub. It's important to choose a hot tub brand that will be there if you need it.
When shopping for a hot tub, you will find that many hot tub manufacturers offer a variety of water care options so that you can choose the system that fits your routine and budget. If you don't know much about hot tub water care, this aspect of hot tub ownership can start to feel overwhelming. It's actually much simpler than you think. Let us break down the three main approaches to water care for you here.
Three Approaches to Hot Tub Water Care
TRADITIONAL SPA WATER CARE:
Traditional spa water care is the most manual approach, and also the least expensive.
Traditional care requires the spa owner to manually add an approved sanitizer to the spa once a week and before each use. We recommend purchasing these chemicals from an authorized hot tub dealer to ensure you are getting the highest quality products and are only using products that are approved for that spa. How much effort is required by the spa owner depends on how frequently the hot tub is used. With typical hot tub use, you should check the spa water with a test strip each time you use the spa. Your hot tub dealer can help you select the products you'll need to keep your spa water clean.
With traditional spa water care you will typically use one of two sanitizers - Chlorine or Bromine. These are the primary actors for killing bacteria and viruses as well as preventing algae growth. Chlorine levels should stay between 3 and 5 parts per million. DO NOT use tri-chlor chlorine, any type of compressed bromine or chlorine, acid or any type of sanitizer which is not recommended specifically for your spa.
OZONE WITH MPS AND SILVER IONS:
Ozone with MPS and Silver Ions is slightly more expensive than traditional water care. While still a fairly manual process, it requires a little less interaction from the spa owner than traditional water care. The main benefit is crystal clear spa water with very little chlorine needed.
Once considered a significant innovation, this approach has since become the industry standard for hot tub water care. This system combines powerful oxidizers - ozone and MPS - with silver ions to decrease the need for chlorine. Some hot tubs come with an ozone unit as a standard feature, while others offer ozone as an upgrade. The ozone unit, once installed, continually releases tiny ozone bubbles into the water. The silver ion cartridge is then installed in the filter standpipe and automatically release silver ions into the water that inhibit the growth of bacteria. The spa owner is required to manually add MPS to the spa with each use, and a small amount of chlorine once a week. The silver ion cartridge should be replaced every three months, and the ozone unit will need to be replaced every 4-5 years.
HOT TUB SALT WATER SYSTEMS:
Typically the most expensive option, salt water systems automatically generate the sanitizer needed, making water care much more hands-free. Depending on the type of salt system you choose, there are a number of other added benefits to consider - including better-feeling and longer-lasting spa water.
These systems have been an option for pool water care for decades, but salt systems for hot tubs have only become popular in recent years. In any salt system, an electrode cell transfers energy to the water to convert salt into a sanitizer.
When using a salt water system, the hot tub owner still needs to balance the spa water and dip a test strip to determine how often the system should run. The electrode cell will create the sanitizer automatically so the spa owner spends much less time manually dosing the spa. The cell will need to be replaced at regular intervals, which vary depending on the type of system you have.
The new FreshWater® Salt System is designed to make water care as easy as possible. Available on all Highlife® Collection and Limelight® Collection spas, this easy-to-use salt water system eliminates the worry of keeping spa water clean, clear and sanitized for a full year.* With just a little salt in your spa water, the system generates chlorine automatically so you'll spend less time measuring and adding chemicals. This unique system makes spa ownership easier than ever by removing the guesswork and hassle of water care maintenance.
*Many factors affect the life of spa water, such as bather load and water chemistry. When these factors are accounted for and the spa is properly maintained, the FreshWater Salt System will keep water clean and clear for a full year.
Your local hot tub dealer should be an expert in spa water care; they can walk you through the process of starting up your spa and explain what you need to do to keep your spa water sparkling clean. As with most things in life, you can choose the tried and true traditional approach, or upgrade to a more advanced option designed to make your life a little bit easier and your spa experience a little bit better.
As you begin to compare models and brands of hot tubs, it may feel like there is a lot of similarity. As a result, many shoppers start to focus on the things that seem to be distinct differences between models, and inevitably jet count becomes a factor in their decision criteria.
If you are using jet count to decide which hot tub model might be right for you… Stop! Jet count is not as important as you think!
Jet count does not equal hot tub quality
There are many hot tub manufacturers, and most of them build hot tubs very similarly - with acrylic shells, synthetic wood-like cabinets, and off-the-shelf components like heaters and jet pumps. For some brands, adding more jets is the only way they can compete. That is why you may come across brands with astronomical jet counts. But more jets does not equal a better hot tub.
An educated shopper will uncover that there are much more important things than jet count to consider when choosing a spa - like overall product quality, warranty, energy efficiency, filtration and water care options. The very best brands invest in building a better overall hot tub and not merely increasing the number of jets.
Are more jets really better?
How many jets can you use all at one time? Even in one seat, do 20 jets necessarily provide a better massage experience than 10 or even 5? There is definitely a point of diminishing returns when it comes to the number of jets you can use at one time, as well as the total number of jets you need in a spa.
Choose quality spa jets over quantity
Some hot tub brands offer a lot of jets - but no jet variety. If you are after a seriously enjoyable hydromassage experience, choose a brand that offers a number of different jet types: big, pulsating jets for larger muscle groups in your back and shoulders; powerful directional jets to loosen up a sore neck or work out tired calf muscles; and a strong jetstream to soothe aching feet.
For example, consider the Moto-Massage® DX jet. With two powerful streams of water that sweep up and down your back, the Moto-Massage DX is counted as only two jets, but it provides a back massage beyond compare - no matter how many jets you stack it up against.
Pay only for what you need
High jet counts typically mean large jet pumps to power them. Otherwise, you are likely to get very weak massage action, and lots of jets with low power is certainly not what you are after. But with those large jet pumps also come higher energy costs.
Instead of using jet count as your guide, we encourage you to focus on finding a spa that can provide you with a therapeutic and relaxing hydromassage experience with the right number of thoughtfully designed jets and an energy-efficient jet pump system.