Complete Guide on Hot Tubs in 2023 [Electric Bills, Water Costs, & Maintenance]
You may be considering purchasing a hot tub. After all, flashy images from movies and TV shows show happy, cheerful people as they relax and have the best time that a chilly summer night can offer. In reality, spas are not cheap, and neither is their maintenance. For this reason, let’s consider the electricity cost of a hot tub (and other associated costs).
What is a Hot Tub?
A hot tub is an out-of-ground pool or a large tub that has a built-in heater capable of delivering high heat. Spas have a large volume and can seat up to 7 people in a residential format. They also come equipped with LED lights, air jets, and water jets, and some of the priciest models can even include a home cinema with underwater speakers. All in all, hot tubs are a place of relaxation and the ultimate form of massage therapy that money can buy.
As such, hot tubs come in different shapes, sizes, depths, and water volumes that they can hold. They also come with different seating arrangements, water jet systems, and heaters of varying power output. Some of the biggest residential spas use as much as 11 kWh of electricity every hour, so being mindful of your needs and desires as well as the costs of hot tub ownership is essential. It can help the hot tub owner save money through smart spa use.
If you are buying a new hot tub, you will also need an installation place. This dramatically increases hot tub installation costs. You will need a concrete slab or another structure with a foundation for your hot tub, as they can get well over 2 tons heavy once filled with water. This costs construction money.
On the other hand, you will also need a separate line running from the power meter and junction box to the concrete pad where you will keep your hot tub. Your existing wiring may not be enough for most hot tub models, as even an energy-efficient hot tub can have a peak consumption five times that of an electric heater. Depending on your existing main electrical panel, you may also need to redo it to ensure a safe power delivery and low fire hazard chances.
Wiring alone can cost up to $1,500. This is a significant expense that you should consider before you decide on installing a hot tub. Placing any wiring underground will also cost additional money for trench digging and backfilling.
Average Monthly Electric Cost
In addition to hot tub installation expenses, your new hot tub also has a regular charge on your electric bill. An energy-efficient hot tub running for an entire month with all energy-saving tips in place will cost you anywhere from $20 during summer months, to $100 during winter months, as the water temperature has to be kept constant if you want to use your hot tub regularly.
Average Water Care Cost
In addition to how much electricity you use for your hot tub, you also need to consider how much it costs to keep the water clean and safe to use. You will need to consider the costs of pre-filter and filter replacement, as well as salt, ozone, and/or chlorine solutions for proper care of your hot tub’s water.
If you try to save money and keep your spa in less-than-ideal condition, you will soon be facing way higher costs than simple maintenance. Dirty water full of algae may form deposits on the heater, reducing its efficiency and making it use more electricity, which defeats the purpose of investing in an energy-efficient model. Furthermore, these algae can also clog water jets.
In this case, you may incur even higher expenses, as you will need a professional to clean your hot tub piping and water jets. This can cost a lot of money and time and may end up ruining the experience for both you and your family. In addition to these costs, you may also need to consider replacing water jets as clogging them may permanently damage the delicate internal structure.
Factors Affecting a Hot Tub’s Power Consumption
Considering all expenses outlined above, a spa is not cheap to maintain. It is not too expensive either, as a more energy-efficient model will save money in the long run over a cheaper, older model. Although the initial investment may be lower, in the long run, a cheaper model will use way more electricity and will cost you more on a month-to-month basis. Considering that this is a delicate decision to make and that you need accurate information to bring an educated decision, here are factors affecting a hot tub’s power consumption:
Frequency of Use
Frequency of use is the most important factor that affects your spa power consumption. Consider that when you use your spa, you:
- Remove the protective covering, allowing heat to escape,
- Increase the temperature of the water, demanding more electricity to be spent to heat it up,
- Play around, creating water splashes, creating the need for more heat to be used when you refill the hot tub,
- Use water and air jets, all of which take heat away, as cold air is pumped into the hot tub.
If you use your hot tub daily, you may want to consider this as one of many factors that affect the use of power. This elevates the costs of running your spa.
The period of use also affects how much power your hot tub consumes. Using it and even keeping it hot with the cover on during winter costs more than during summer. Even if you use it sporadically, keeping the water hot will use power.
Hot Tub Maintenance
Hot Tub periodic maintenance costs money as well. This means that you should plan for regular expenses. Although not high, these expenses add up on a yearly basis and will represent one more item to consider when budgeting. As many people who try to save here can see, trying to save on hot tub maintenance will only mean additional costs in the future and may cost even more than maintenance. Your spa maintenance includes:
- Regularly chlorinating the water, or using other sanitizing agents, such as those based on ozone or salt,
- Regularly clearing the piping – you should call a professional to clean the piping once a year,
- Washing out and replacing pre-filters – designed to keep leaves and other particulate matter out of your pool, these pre-filters also need to be replaced periodically,
- Replacing the filters – most hot tubs have more than one filter, and in most cases, it will cost you more than $100 to replace them. Most filters need to be replaced at least every six months, although you may want to consider replacing them every three months during the hot part of the year.
Besides these costs, replacing heating elements and draining and refilling your spa is also a part of regular maintenance which comes with its own expenses.
Constantly Heating Up the Water
Most producers say that a hot tub is a great investment. But most customers frown to hear that you should constantly be heating up the water. The thing is that this actually means less electricity use than heating cold water up every time you want to use the hot tub. If you have an energy-efficient hot tub, with good insulation and a good thermal blanket, the water will stay warm with little power use. This is the best way to save.
Spa Water Replacement
Your spa water replacement also means a higher monthly electric bill. Most manufacturers say that your hot tub water needs replacing only once every six months. In reality, this may happen 4 times a year or even once a year – depending on your climate and how well you maintain the water quality. As this means discharging and refilling sometimes more than two metric tons of water and then heating it up, the cost is considerable.
Hidden Expenses of a Hot Tub
Most people who would like to purchase a spa think that this means the end of their investment. The reality is that there are some hidden costs to consider as well. Let’s have a look at the hidden costs of your hot tub:
- Installing an electric outlet,
- Placing a sturdy foundation,
- An increase in the electric bills,
- Filter replacements, chemical monitoring, and
- Repairs and upkeep.
Installing an Electric Outlet
Depending on where you live, you will be paying a different price to have an electrical outlet installed. As hot tubs use a lot of electricity, you will need a separate power line running from the main electric panel to the hot tub. The costs of a hot tub depend also on hot tub location, as the further it is from the house, the more that single outlet will cost. We are looking at expenses of between $900 and $1,500.
A sturdy foundation is also a necessity. A medium-sized model of a spa can weigh as much as three tons once filled up. This is more than your patio can withstand, so you may need to install a concrete pad or foundation in the place where your hot tub will be placed. You also need to consider any electrical or water lines underneath, as you may not be able to place the hot tub over any existing infrastructure.
Increase in Electric Bill
An increase in your electric bill is to be expected when purchasing any new appliance. How much does it cost to run a hot tub? The costs can vary depending on all of the above factors and the price of electricity in your area. You may pay less if you have a solar array, but consider that you may need to expand your solar panel system if you want to reduce all of your hot tub electric cost that you will consume
Filter replacement is a necessary step in hot tub maintenance. Every hot tub dealer will be able to explain to you that regularly replacing filters is the key to keeping water cleaning costs down and protecting the water pump. As your filters get dirty, the pump has to put more effort into circulating the water – compromising its own integrity and water quality.
Chemical monitoring is another hidden cost of a hot tub. It is difficult to estimate the exact cost of chemical monitoring, as water is different in different areas and different chemicals that you may use to keep the water clean can impact the quality of water in different ways. In many cases, too little of cleaning agents there are, the faster the water will go bad and your filters will need replacement. Too many of these same agents and the higher the chance that you end up with irritated eyes, skin, or even mild burns due to chemicals in the water.
Repairs and Upkeep
Repairs and upkeep also cost more. This is a complex appliance that has many parts, some of which are moving. Your water pump, for example, may break, and the same can happen to your water filter. The piping itself can leak and tiny cracks in the tub itself can cost more to repair than purchasing a similar hot tub. All of these expenses have to be considered when thinking about purchasing a hot tub and thinking of its maintenance.
How to Keep Your Hot Tub’s Expenses Low?
Considering that a hot tub and its operational costs are not low, it is important to understand that there are ways to keep these expenses low. You can, indeed, save a lot of money with your hot tub, especially if you are careful and meticulous with its maintenance and regular checkups by professionals. Let’s consider ways to save on a hot tub:
- Heat up during off-peak utility hours,
- Use a spa cover,
- Use a Thermal Blanket,
- Block The Wind,
- Set the Right Temperature,
- Once a Week,
- Keep Your Hot Tub Clean,
- Close the Air Jets,
- Switching Power Providers,
- Conserve Water, and
- Upgrade Your Hot Tub.
Heat Up Your Hot Tub During Off-Peak Utility Hours
As hot tubs take up a lot of water (sometimes over 3 metric tons), you can save a considerable amount of money if you only heat it during the off-peak hours. This will mean a lower monthly electric bill and less money spent on spa water. Indeed, heating is the largest expense when it comes to the average hot tub.
Use a Hot Tub Cover
You should always use a hot tub cover when it is not in use. A spa cover prevents dirt, fallen, leaves, and any other debris from falling into your hot tub. It will also mean lower electricity use, as hot tub covers are thermally insulated. Furthermore, using one also means that less sunlight can penetrate the water, and fewer bacteria will grow. This, in turn, means that your filter will go for longer before needing a replacement.
Use a Thermal Blanket
Using a thermal blanket can also save a considerable amount of heat. As hot tub covers only offer basic thermal insulation, you should know that your thermal blanket can help you save even more heat and electricity. This will bring down your electricity costs.
Block The Wind
Blocking the wind by means of a spa cover or placing some kind of wind obstacle will prevent debris from falling in and will prevent evaporation and subsequent water top-off. It will also mean that the filters will last longer, as less debris means less dirty water to filter through.
Set the Right Temperature
Setting the right temperature also means savings. As most hot tubs can withstand very high temperatures, you should still know that keeping them below this maximum is the best thing to do. A rule of thumb is that the less frequently you use your hot tub, the lower the temperature it should be kept at. Once you are ready to use it, or a few hours before that, you should set the temperature to the desired level.
Once a Day
If you use your tub every day, you should keep the temperature set at the same level at all times. Letting it cool down and reheating the water can mean more electricity use than keeping the temperature constant with a thermal blanket on. This also means less stress on the heating element.
Every 2-3 Days
If you only use your tub every 2-3 days, you should keep the temperature about 5-10 degrees below your desired level. This way, you can quickly reheat the water once you want to use it. This way, you can save a bit of electricity.
Once a Week
If you use your hot tub only once a week, you should keep the temperature at 10-20 degrees lower than the desired level. This will let the water cool down a bit, but will also save more energy. This way, you can also enjoy fewer algae and a longer-lasting filtering system.
Keep Your Spa Clean
Keeping your spa clean will also ensure that you save money. Keeping the water clean will prolong the life of your filters while keeping the tub itself clean will mean that less cleaning is necessary, especially as algae and limescale build-up will be prevented.
Close the Air Jets
Closing the air jets when the hot tub is not in use will also mean that less air can enter the hot tub. As the air running through air jets is not preheated, it enters the hot tub as cold air, cooling the water down. Closing the air jets will prevent this from happening.
Conserving water will mean that less water needs to be added to the hot tub and that less water needs to be (re)heated. You can save water by preventing splashing, using a hot tub cover, providing a wind block of some kind, and protecting your hot tub from the sun. All these things prevent water from evaporating, keeping the tub full, and keeping money in your pocket.
Upgrade Your Hot Tub
Although it may seem counterintuitive, you may also want to upgrade your hot tub. As it goes, newer tubs are more energy efficient. They also have better insulation and use less electricity to heat up the water faster. Advanced filtration will also mean that you can spend less on filters and remote control offers a much better way to turn it off when on a trip and turn it back on just before you come back home.
Can you get sick from being in a hot tub in the cold?
If you are healthy to start with, a hot tub will not make you sick. Still, you should enter the tub slowly and make sure that you quickly get dry and dressed when you leave it. Being wet in cold weather is what can make you sick; spending time in the tub cannot.
How long do hot tub shells last?
Your hot tub shell will last several years with good maintenance. Wooden and metal shells can last the longest, as these are sturdy materials that are UV resistant. Plastic materials, although UV-resistant to an extent will likely be the first to go bad. PVC plastics or polymer materials are comparable to wood by the length of life but will cost much less to maintain.
Can I leave my hot tub empty in summer?
Yes, you can leave your hot tub empty during summer. This way, the internal piping will not be exposed to water, no algae blooms can occur if you cannot sanitize the water properly and no electricity will be used. However, you should always leave it covered, as sun rays can damage the inner lining and void your warranty.
Is it OK to go in a hot tub every day?
Yes, it is OK to go in a hot tub every day. You should consult a doctor if you think that this may cause you heart problems. People who have issues with thermoregulation, excessive sweating, and similar conditions should consult a physician before making regular visits to the hot tub.
A hot tub is a great appliance to have. You will be able to have many great moments should you decide to purchase one. However, you should be aware of electric costs and all other hidden costs of owning a spa. For this reason, follow our guide and ensure that your fun does not come at a price tag too high to pay.