Hot Tub Running Costs - Let's Get Real
If your thinking about buying a portable hot tub then you should have some idea how much it’s going to cost to keep it running.
A portable hot tub, although it may have some limitations, can still provide a very enjoyable and relaxing experience. They are extremely popular and sold by the tens of thousands around the world. So really they must be doing something right.
That said let’s take a closer look at how much money it’s really going to cost to keep your hot tub running. These costs can be broken down into 4 separate elements.
The Cost Of Electricity
A portable hot tub is powered by a network of electrical components. Pumps, heaters and electronics like the thermostat all require electricity and can all add dramatically to your power bill. Heating the water will consume the most amount of electricity. Having a well insulated hot tub and always keep the cover on when not in use will help to keep these heating costs down. Do what you can to maiximize heat retention. You can really save some money here.
Exactly how much electricity you are likely to use is a very hard thing to determine. It depends on so many different factors. Things like –
The price of electricity
The frequency and duration of use
The size of the hot tub
The number of people
The air temperature
The type of heating and jets used
Things aren’t really all that bad though, despite this unavoidable disclaimer. We can make some very good estimates as to how much electricity you are likely to use.
In order to do this certain assumptions must be made. We will assume that using your hot tub 3 times a week constitutes average usage. This breaks down to twice at the weekend, or 2 days together and then one other day during the week.
To determine the amount of electricity used we need to know the power rating of both the heater and pump and the jet system. Inflatable hot tubs on average have a heating and pump system that is rated between 1KW – 1.5Kw. While most jet and bubble systems are rated at 1.1Kw. We will use as our average 1.35Kw for heating and .5 - 1.1Kw for bubbles, which seems to be what most inflatable hot tubs like Coleman, Bestway and Intex use. We also need to know the price of electricity, which for the United States is an average of 10 cents per kilowatt-hour.
So our average portable hot tub uses 1.35Kw for heating and 1.1Kw for jets and bubbles. Multiply these figures by the total number of hours in our 3-day example and we get 58 kilowatt hours. Multiply that again by the average cost of electricity and we get 58 X .10c equals $6.20 per week or $24.80 per month.
These figures also assume an average temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit, people living in the far north or south will experience something different.
Our electricity costs calculator will enable you to get a more accurate estimate based on your local electricity costs and your individual usage requirements. It’s a simple but helpful tool that can provide a better individual estimate of power usage.
Calculate You Electricity Cost
The prices for electricity are current as of 2017 and are available here
Click for a list of hot tubs and their size in gallons
A guide to the size of some popular portable hot tubs
|Hot Tub Brand||Capacity||Gallons|
|Coleman Lay-Z Spa||4||254|
|Intex PureSpa 4 person||4||210|
|SaluSpa Hawaii (Real HydroJets!)||4-6||210|
|Intex PureSpa 6 person||6||290|
|SaluSpa Palm Springs||4-6||254|
|Radiant Saunas Simplicity||2-4||150|
|LifeSmart Rock Solid Luna||4||158|
|Canadian Spa Co Swift||4||330|
|M Spa Camaro B130||4||184|
|Comfort Line Spa_N-A-Box||4||250|
|Strong Spas Summit Series SL40||5||300|
Hot Tub Filters
Proper maintenance of a hot tubs filter is essential to maintain a clean and bacteria free environment that’s running at maximum efficiency. If left unattended a hot tub filter will clog with dirt potentially causing pump or heater failure as the system tries to force water through the blocked filter. You should refer to the manufacturers recommendations for how often to change the filter but an average would be once every 4-6 weeks.
On this basis we have produced a table that indicates filter prices by brand and also estimates a yearly cost, based on a filter change every 6 weeks and the assumption that you won’t realistically use the hot tub every week. There might be holidays, extreme weather or just a change of routine that causes your hot tub to sit idle. So we will say that the average hot tub gets used 8 months of the year. For those that plan to use their hot tubs more often obviously the cost will be higher.
|Popular Hot Tub Filter Prices|
|Brand||Monthly Cost||Annual Cost|
|Canadian Spa Co - Rio & Swift||$12.5||$100|
|Strong Spas-Durasport G2||$25||$200|
Cleaning & Sanitizing
Keeping hot tub water clean and hygienic requires some effort and some expense. How much depends on usage or how often the hot tub is used. With “average” use, a hot tub should be drained, cleaned and refilled approximately every 6 weeks.
Some cleaning products will be required to clean the hot tub surfaces and if needed to de-scale and condition the plumbing. Expect to pay around $10 for cleaning products, for each maintenance period. That amounts to $75 assuming you use the hot tub for 8 months a year, emptying and cleaning it every 6 weeks.
Next comes the chemicals essential to maintain healthy water. The costs of these sanitizing chemicals will depend on how many you use. If your tap water is already reasonably well balanced to start with, it won’t take a chemist to enjoy consistently good water quality.
A simple regular dose of chlorine, bromine or some other hybrid sanitizer in many cases may be all that is required. There is an extensive catalogue of hot tub water treatment chemicals on the market. Including de-foamers to eliminate hot tub foam which can develop when there is an excessive build up of body oil. Water conditioners to soften and demineralize. Chemicals to balance the pH level. A pH range between 7.2 and 7.8 is considered acceptable. There are even perfumes available to scent the water.
If you can keep your hot tub water healthy just by regular monitoring and using a bromine or chlorine sanitizing agent then an average cost of $10 per month can be expected.
One essential item you WILL need is a water quality test kit. There is no escaping the fact that owning a portable hot tub requires some responsibility. If neglected you could end up spending even more money to correct the imbalance.
The water in your hot tub needs to be monitored and controlled regularly. Only by vigilance can you avoid contamination and bacteria build up.
For most portable hot tubs using either a chlorine or bromine based sanitizer, testing the water every 2 days is required.
The 2 most common ways to test hot tub water are using test trips or a liquid test kit. Using test strips to monitor water quality is a simple and reliable process. All you need is a small water sample, ideally collected about elbow deep from the middle of the hot tub. Dip the test strip into the water and wait 20 seconds. It’s then easy to compare the colour swatches on the test strip to the reference chart.
This basic test procedure only checks for pH, alkalinity and bromine or chlorine levels, however keeping pH and chlorine or bromine at correct levels is all you really need to worry about.
Test strips cost around $15 for a pack of 50. Testing every 2 days will add approximately $4.60 to your monthly running costs.
The Cost Of Water
Although not huge, the cost of water should be considered if you want to get a complete picture of all expenses associated with running a portable hot. The price for water varies widely within the United States, however a reliable estimate cost is $3 per refill. If you drain, clean and refill your hot tub at the recommended rate of once every 6 weeks that amounts to $24 per year in estimated increased water rates.
The costs of water may seem trivial but prices have escalated rapidly in the last decade and are likely to continue going up as increased demand pressures a limited supply.
By this stage we should be able to figure out an annual cost for running and maintaining a portable hot tub.
Lets add up all the elements
Total Annual Running Costs
These figures represent a calculated average based on current prices from a variety of merchants and suppliers. Even with extensive research estimates are what they are - "estimates". Prices will vary.
Tips to lower you hot tub running costs
If your thinking about buying a cheaper hot tub like an inflatable model then you are probably eager to lower these running costs as much as possible. Here are some tips on how to practically cut down on costs.
Electricity is the biggest cost, so making savings here can really shave dollars of your power bill. Take advantage of off peak times and try to heat your hot tub when prices are cheaper.
Making sure your hot tub is well insulated is another way to save on power. A good well padded cover and proper insulation underneath can significantly lower the amount of power used to keep things hot.
You can save money on cleaning products by using regular household cleaners. Read this article on for more details.
Choosing to use your hot tub indoors can seriously reduce running costs. Maintaining a suitable water temperature will require much less energy. If you find your inflatable spa struggles when the temperature drops into the 30’s then think about moving inside. Hot tubbing inside can be a whole new experience.
If you know you’re not likely to use the hot tub any time soon, pack it away. Most portable hot tubs can be packed away with minimal effort. One hour for pack up and one for setup is a good guide. You have no running costs when your hot tub is packed away. Be wise and don’t waste money.
Modifying your hot tub by installing a propane heating system. This may not be practical for some but for the DIY adventurers a simple propane camping hot water system can be used instead of the less efficient electric heater. This method delivers constant hot water at relatively cheap prices.
So there you have it.. Assuming average use and average power prices you can expect to pay around $580 to run your portable hot tub for a year. Not an insignificant amount but one that is well worth it once you have experienced your own home hot tub session.
You can make efforts to keep your running costs down by using off-peak electricity and making sure that heat stays in the hot tub with adequate insulation. For some more ideas about how to save money on your hot tub read this article on cleaning inflatable hot tubs.