What is the Actual Cost of Running a Hot Tub?

Well-Insulated Lay-Z Hawaii Hot Tub with Cover and the Cost of Running a Hot TubWhen I shopped for my first hot tub, my biggest concern was cost. I didn’t want to pay too much for spa itself, but I also didn’t want to pay a huge heating bill each month either. So, what is the cost of running a hot tub?

My Decision Made Easier…

First of all, I didn’t have to worry about choosing between a gas vs electric hot tub because the portable versions are typically designed electric. This immediately made my decision-making much easier. That said, I still didn’t want to get ripped off.

What I found out about the cost of running a hot tub:

1. Does Heating Speed Matter?

An electric hot tub heater will warm the water more slowly than the gas version. (An electric unit usually heats at about 2-3 degrees per hour.) However, a well-insulated spa can be kept heated (efficiently) all the time, making the heating time a null point.

2. Helpful Cost-Lowering Tricks

There are several tricks that spa owners can use to lower operating costs:

    Inflatable Spa Comparison Chart

  • If you’re on the fence about which size to buy, opt for the smaller model. Less water to heat means less heating cost. Compare inflatable spa sizes here.
  • Position your spa in a protected area, such as against a corner wall or on a covered patio.

    Lay-Z Spa Miami IndoorsMinimize exposure to the outdoor elements and this can decrease the power needed to keep your spa warm.
    If you plan on using your unit indoors, this will save you even more money as you can control the air temperature as well.  

  • Take advantage of hot tubs that come with insulated lids and/or insulating floor pads. Covers are especially important because heat rises and can easily escape when lids are not in place. 
  • The outdoor temperature makes a difference on the energy it requires to keep a spa warm Using your hot tub during the summer months instead of during the winter is another way to keep heating costs at a minimum.

This video has a review of the Intex PureSpa. Check out minute 0:43 for information on the insulating cover and minute 5:23 for information on the thermal ground cover that insulates the spa from underneath:

As you can see, there are many variables that can affect the cost of heating an inflatable hot tub. Intex provides a useful chart on this page that demonstrates different heating costs depending on usage. (Approximately $30 a month in mild weather conditions for an average sized spa).

3. 220 volt VS 110 volt for Heating a Spa?

According to The Spa Depot, a 220v electric heater can heat the water more quickly than a 110v unit. The cost is virtually the same either way. 110v is usually more practical, since owners can simply plug in the unit and start using it right away.

4. An Unexpected Discovery

There’s one surprising thing that I realized once I started using my hot tub. By having it heated all the time, I ended up using more often that I thought. Many times I just get in it for 10 or 15 minutes to take a quick break, relax or meditate.

WebMD reports studies that show improved sleep, better mental health and even workers reporting fewer sick days from regularly using hot tub therapy. This may explain why I feel so good! even from these short sessions.

Since it is ready to go whenever I need it, I never have to put extra thought into pre-heating it. I think for this reason alone I’ve gotten a lot more of my money’s worth out of it.

5. But What About a Gas VS Electric Heater?

Although we’ve already discussed that a gas heater wasn’t an option for me, there were a few other facts that came up that helped me feel better about my buying decision. Electric spas are simpler to operate and easier and cheaper to fix should anything ever go wrong.

I also didn’t need to provide extra ventilation as would be needed with a gas tub or hire a professional for that matter. Not only do these factors make installation and upkeep less convenient, they also add on to the cost.

Great Northern Hot Tubs makes a good point when evaluating electric vs gas in regards to cost: “If you can recover the cost of the heater and installation in 5-7 years and install the heater indoors, get the gas heater. However, if it’s going to take 10 to 20 years to recover installation costs and you’re only going to live in the house for 5 years, you’ve just lost the money. For most people, a 6 kW electric heater is the most practical.”


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