There’s nothing like relaxing in a hot tub after a long day’s work or exercise. Lots of people dream about owning a hot tub, but before you buy one, it’s important to know how much it will cost to purchase and to operate. Here we’ve investigated the different aspects of hot tub ownership that need to be taken into consideration before buying (or building!) your own hot tub.
Types of Hot Tubs
Of the expenses associated with owning a hot tub, the first (but far from only) to consider is the actual purchase price of the hot tub itself. Hot tubs can cost up to $10,000 depending on the type, size, and features. The type of hot tub that you choose will also dictate the costs associated with running it. We’ll cover those operation costs in the following sections.
Typical cost: An inflatable hot tub can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,000.
Inflatable hot tubs are lighter than portable hot tubs and therefore easier to transport. Installation is simple; just inflate the hot tub with the motor that comes with it and fill with water. The primary benefit of an inflatable hot tub is the ease with which it can be transported and used in multiple locations. Inflatable hot tubs can also save money in maintenance costs, because they are not continuously filled with water and therefore don’t need to maintain a constant water temperature.
Typical cost: Portable hot tubs are more budget-friendly upfront than permanent hot tubs. They generally run about $1,000 to 2,000.
Portable hot tubs are self-contained (meaning they don’t require any in-ground installation, piping or wiring), yet have all the features of a permanent hot tub. They require the same amount of maintenance (roughly $300-400 per year) as permanent tubs. Portable hot tubs come in a variety of sizes, and the larger the size, the more expensive the associated costs will be. Many portable hot tubs require a 110 to 120 V connection, which means they can be plugged into a standard wall outlet.
Wood-burning hot tubs use the heat from a flame instead of an electrical motor to heat the water. Like inflatable and portable hot tubs, they are free-standing and don’t even require access to an outlet, saving money on energy costs. Depending on the design, many wood-burning hot tubs won’t be continuously filled with water, so this type of hot tub will cost less in cleaning and water treatment chemicals as well. Unless you have access to a ready supply of free firewood, remember to account for the added cost of buying logs to burn or the fuel/time to cut them yourself. Wood-burning hot tubs are not as popular as the other three options, because the limitations of the design make it harder to control the temperature or include a jet system.
Typical cost: Permanent hot tubs can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000.
This category includes the most durable and long-lasting of hot tub models. Permanent hot tubs generally cost more money upfront, depending on the model and whether there will be costs associated with installation. Price tags on permanent hot tubs vary significantly, with those seating two to three people on the lower end and those seating up to eight people on the higher end. These hot tubs require year-round routine maintenance (which we’ll cover further in the next few sections).
The model of permanent hot tub that you choose will significantly affect the energy costs associated with running it. Energy-efficient hot tubs can cost more initially, but the operation costs will be lower over time than their less efficient counterparts. There are many energy efficient and eco-friendly hot tub options available. Features that make a permanent hot tub more energy and cost efficient are listed below.
- Two pumps: This option will cost more upfront, but in the long run, it will save on operating costs. This is due to the fact that a separate pump is used for the jet system, and as such will only use energy when the jets are turned on. The second pump can be a lower wattage pump than the first, and therefore use less electricity when in use.
- Economy mode for heating: Many eco-friendly hot tubs come equipped with an economy mode setting that adjusts the heat when the hot tub is not in use. Keep in mind the amount of usage the hot tub will get and the energy cost to heat it back to the desired temperature (it takes more energy to heat up cold water than it does to keep hot water hot, so if your hot tub will get lots of use, it may be optimal to keep it heated continuously).
- Construction material: Hot tubs built out of high-density polyurethane foam will be well insulated against the outside temperature. This material will keep heat in the tub more effectively than thinner materials. Remember, escaping heat will drop the temperature and require more energy to bring it back to the desired temperature.
How Much Electricity Does a Hot Tub Use?
Many factors will come into play when determining how much electricity a hot tub will need. These include the volume of water the hot tub holds and the temperature at which the hot tub is set. Installation of either an indoor or outdoor hot tub must comply with the National Electric Code requirements.
The higher the temperature the hot tub is set to, the more energy will be required to heat and maintain it, especially if there is a large difference between the outside temperature and the hot tub temperature. Usually, hot tubs are kept between 102 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit during high usage months. You can mitigate energy costs by setting the hot tub to a lower temperature when it is not in use.
A good resting temperature for a hot tub is 80 to 90 degrees. However, it is important to keep in mind that more time and energy will be required to reheat the hot tub back to 102 to 104 from a lower base temperature. Approximately 8.34 BTUs are required to raise one gallon of water one degree Fahrenheit. We won’t go through the complex math for you here, but you can easily see how much energy is required the more degrees are needed to heat!
For prospective hot tub owners who live in four-season climates, putting the hot tub indoors (if feasible with your situation) will help limit electricity costs as there won’t be as large of a temperature difference between the hot tub and the surrounding temperatures during the winter months. Regardless of location, in order to keep the temperature stable in either an indoor or outdoor hot tub, a good cover is critical. If there are gaps in the cover, up to 30 to 40% of the heat could escape, requiring more electricity to keep the water at the desired temperature. A hot tub cover will cost between $50 and $500 on Amazon, depending on the thickness, size, and shape.
Typically, hot tubs contain approximately 250 gallons of water. However, depending on the size of the hot tub, it may hold up to 500 gallons. The larger the volume of water inside the hot tub, the more energy it will require to heat up. According to jacuzzi.com, a hot tub that seats six to seven people can have an estimated monthly cost of $15.34, while one which seats three people can cost approximately $12.96 per month.
Usage and Electric Costs
Like anything else that requires electricity, the more usage the hot tub gets, the more it will cost. All factors considered, the end amount of a user’s electric bill will depend on what state the hot tub is kept in. The average retail price of electricity in cents/kWh (cents per kilowatt hour) can vary anywhere from 7.13 to 33.43. Check the US Energy Information Administration for state-specific costs. According to many experienced hot tub owners, this translates to approximately $20-$30 per month in the summer and up to $100 per month in the winter. This can be broken down further to $2-3/day, assuming a half hour of usage each day.
Hot Tub Maintenance Costs…
Water treatment chemicals and sanitizer are necessary for keeping a hot tub free of contamination and bacteria. A hot tub should be cleaned approximately once a month. On Amazon, a 16-oz bottle of cleaner can cost approximately $16 and advises using eight ounces per cleaning per month, translating to roughly $192 a year in chemicals. Sanitizer is also recommended and can cost anywhere from $15 to $60 for a year’s supply, depending on the brand. Sponges are also necessary, and can be purchased for $10 to 20 for a six-pack. A total estimate of $300 to $400 per year is reasonable for water treatment chemicals.
A net is a good investment in order to clean leaves, bugs, and other contaminants that may fall in the hot tub during routine use. A net will cost approximately $20 depending on the size and style chosen.
Additionally, a typical hot tub will require three filters which cost approximately $45 each and need to be replaced one to three times a year depending on usage, for a yearly total of $135 to $405 for filters alone. Running a hot tub with older filters will require pumps and heaters to work harder and use more energy, increasing costs.
If all these costs and products seem overwhelming, you can contract a full-service hot tub maintenance companies, with different packages available to suit hot tub owner’s needs. If purchased separately, all of these components will likely cost around $500 to $800 for the necessary chemicals, net, sponges, and filters.
Where Can You Purchase a Hot Tub?
Many big box stores sell hot tubs, including Walmart, Home Depot, and Lowe’s. Online retailers like Amazon, Overstock, and eBay are also worth considering. Depending on where you’re located, there may also be a number of smaller local businesses that sell and, if necessary, install hot tubs in your area. At any of these places, prices vary widely and will depend on what type of hot tub you want to purchase. Keep on the lookout for end-of-season (typically August to October) sale events to help you find the best price.
Here we have presented the costs associated with purchasing and using a hot tub. The costs of owning a hot tub include:
- Initial purchase price: $1,000 $10,000 plus $100 $400 for a hot tub cover
- Yearly maintenance costs: $500 to 800
- Electricity costs: Anywhere from $30 to $100 per month, depending on weather and usage
This translates to anywhere from $2,000 to $12,000 the first year, followed by anywhere from $900 to $1,600 per year for maintenance.