If you live in a climate where winter can be long, cold, and depressing, hot tubs may help you keep your mood up. However, while soaking in a hot tub will certainly make you feel good, it could also jack up your electric bill.
This raises the question: are hot tubs energy efficient? Can they be?
The simple answer is yes, but it depends on how you use it, maintenance, and installation.
Read on to find out why your hot tub might be ratcheting up in energy costs and how to make your hot tub more energy efficient.
Get an Energy Efficient Unit
Getting an energy-efficient unit in the first place is the key to voiding the high costs of running a hot tub. Ideally, it would help if you looked for a team with a favorable rating from the Domestic Appliance Energy Rating Label Guide.
A good unit should have an A rating, but a C could suffice. Anything above C could hike your power bills.
If you get a tub from the USA, ensure it has an Energy Star rating of at least three stars.
How well insulated a spa is has an impact on its cost. The spa shell and cabinet are insulated between premium models with “Full Foam” injections. Temperature loss through the sides and bottom is relatively little when the quality and density of the foam are quite high.
The best hot tub insulation options are full foam, multi-density foam, barrier insulation, or FiberCor. Look for full or multi-density foam when comparing energy efficient hot tubs. If the description does not mention full-foam insulation, the tub is probably only partially insulated with spray foam.
Regardless of what insulation your hot tub comes with, you can stay on the safe side by spraying a half-inch layer of spray foam on the spa shell’s underside. This is because most manufacturers do not insulate all sides of their hot tubs, especially behind the equipment panel, let alone prevent outside air infiltration.
In addition, every drop of water within the hot tub flows through an area with no insulation; your tub could lose a lot of energy. As such, you can lower spa insulation costs and increase spa efficiency by lining the interior walls of the cabinets with firm insulation panels or fiberglass insulation that has been foil-coated.
You may also consider adding a fully insulated heat-reflective cabinet and base to eliminate air infiltration. Add thick polyethylene insulation slabs behind the cabinet and a thick layer of polyurethane foam is applied to the shell.
The air caught between these layers of insulation comes in handy in creating a high insulation barrier. This barrier stabilizes the water’s temperature.
The circulation pumps in some hot tubs also power the jets. Look for hot tubs equipped with pumps used to power the jets alone. These units consume less energy. The circulation pump will run much less frequently, saving money and energy in the long run.
Look for a jet pump system that allows you to control only the jets you want, rather than activating all of them by default.
It would help to look for a high-efficiency heater. A hot tub with an efficient heater will use less electricity while maintaining a comfortable temperature throughout your soak.
Given that most of a hot tub’s heat is lost through the top, a strong, snuggly-fitting cover can prevent this issue. It would be a bonus if you found one with dense insulation.
As such, it’s safe to say that hot tub covers are an excellent addition to a hot tub because they help to keep debris like tree leaves and dirt out of the tub and reduce the need to refill the tub.
Additionally, these covers help to retain heat and prevent water loss, requiring less energy to heat the water.
When selecting the most energy efficient option, consider the R-value of the cover. The higher the R-value, the more energy efficient the system.
Regular Hot Tub Maintenance
Hot tubs require regular maintenance to remain functional and safe. If you don’t maintain your hot tub, it could become less efficient and more expensive to run—not to mention more prone to damage.
Below are hot tub components that need regular maintenance to maintain energy efficiency.
Filters are one of the most important parts of any hot tub system and should be changed regularly to keep them working properly. They remove heavy metals and debris from the water, ensuring that the water is fresh and clean every time you soak in your hot tub.
Filters With an ozone system destroy organic materials while killing diseases and bacteria, meaning that you will require fewer chemicals in your tub.
An effective filter system reduces the need for water replacement and keeps the water crisp and refreshing. In addition to lowering your water bill, you will save on energy bills by reducing the number of times you pump water into your tub.
Regularly change out the filter cartridges. If you’re unsure how often you should change filters, check with your manufacturer or local pool store for advice on what filters work best in your specific model and how often they should be replaced.
Regardless of the type of insulation employed, what happens behind your hot tub cabinet panels is crucial for an energy efficient hot tub. Energy might be used inefficiently if there is a leak or defective component, increasing energy consumption.
Hot tubs can also lose energy efficiency over time due to wear and tear, just like any other appliance. Regularly inspecting the inside to check for leaks or damage to the piping or parts will help you avoid seeing energy wasted or misdirected and aid in long-term planning.
Regular maintenance will ensure the jets operate as expected and the pumps run smoothly.
Ideally, if you feel like you are not in a good position to manage daily maintenance, pick a hot tub that lets you control the filtration, pumps, and other features. To save even more electricity, make a point of running the tub at off-peak times.
Where are you going to put the tub? Outdoors or indoors? It may seem trivial, but this is an important decision.
Your yard is the perfect place to install your tub. After all, it creates an excellent focal point for gathering family and friends. However, if your energy costs are rising, this can be a contributing factor. Why, you ask?
If you place the hot tub in an open area, the wind or the surrounding temperature may quickly cool the water. This will make the hot tub less energy efficient than it could be since it will have to work harder to compensate for the lost heat. The location of the hot tub concerning trees may also have an impact since falling debris may get inside the hot tub and clog the filters.
But you don’t have to move your hot tub. Covering it with shade and adding insulation can help it maintain water temperatures hence using less electricity. Consider building a gazebo around it.
If you haven’t installed your hot tub yet, consider placing it in your house or a heavily shaded area. An indoor tub utilizes the constant ambient temperature to assist the water in reaching a set temperature and will always consume less energy than an outdoor tub.
One of the biggest factors in how much energy a hot tub uses is its size. A larger hot tub will use more electricity and water than a smaller one. This is because larger tubs hold more water, which takes longer to heat up, and they usually have more jets that require more power to run.
This fact, however, doesn’t mean you should sacrifice your comfort. Instead, it would help if you got a hot tub whose size suits your needs. Too small will feel like a waste of money; too large, and you end up paying the price via high utility bills.
It would help to consider the number of people using it at once and how much space is required for each person to unwind. You could also give a little more room for the occasional surprise visitor. This way, you will ensure that every penny that goes into your electric bills is well worth it.
Powering your unit when not in use like other electronics could help reduce energy consumption. For a hot tub, however, turning off everything could be a bad idea.
Instead, reduce the hot tub’s temperature when not in use. Even a 10-degree drop will keep it warm until you return. You can cut back on energy use in this way. This is because the small amount of energy required to rewarm the tub when you decide to use it again will be considerably outweighed by the money you will save over time.
When using your hot tub, the jets’ utilization of air to move water is fantastic, but since you can relish the feeling away from the tub, turn the jets off. Likewise, if you’re fortunate enough to have a device with functions like LED lights and music, don’t forget to turn them off when you step out of the tub.
Hot tubs are a great way to relax and unwind, but they can be costly to operate. Hot tubs use a lot of energy to heat the water, so it’s important to understand how much energy your hot tub uses and how to reduce that amount.
Consider the above suggestions and enjoy your soaking sessions with a free mind.