How Much Does It Cost to Run a Hot Tub? Hot Tub Maintenance Costs, Too

Short Answer: The cost to buy, run, and maintain a hot tub depends on the type of hot tub you buy, how large it is, and how often you use it. The initial purchase of a hot tub can cost as little as $300 for a basic inflatable model up to over $10,000 for a large, permanent tub. You’ll also need a cover, which can range from $50 to $500. The electricity costs to run a hot tub range from around $30 to $100 per month depending on usage, tub size, and season (it will cost more to heat the water during winter months). In addition, maintenance expenses for things like cleaning solution, nets, and filters can run you between $500 and $800 per year. For more details on how much it costs to buy and run a hot tub, see below.

In This Article

How Much Does It Cost to Buy a Hot Tub?

The first expense to consider when owning a hot tub is the actual purchase price of the hot tub itself. Hot tubs can range in cost depending on their size, type, and features — anywhere from around $300 for a simple inflatable hot tub to over $10,000 for something larger and permanent. The type of hot tub that you choose will also dictate the costs associated with running it.

Inflatable Hot Tubs

Typical cost: An inflatable hot tub can cost anywhere from around $300 to $1,000.

Inflatable hot tubs are lighter than portable hot tubs and therefore easier to transport. Installation is simple; inflate the hot tub with the included pump 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, such as when camping or RVing. 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.

Portable Hot Tubs

Typical cost: Portable hot tubs are more budget-friendly upfront than permanent hot tubs. They generally run around $1,000 to 2,000.

Portable hot tubs are self-contained — meaning they don’t require any in-ground installation, piping, or wiring — yet they have all the features of a permanent hot tub. Portable hot tubs require the same amount of maintenance as permanent tubs, and they come in a variety of sizes; the larger the size, the more expensive the associated costs. Many portable hot tubs require a 110 to 120 V connection, which means it can be plugged into a standard wall outlet.

Wood-Burning Hot Tubs

Typical cost: Wood-burning hot tubs can range between $3,000 to $6,000.

Wood-burning hot tubs use a flame instead of an electric motor to heat the water. Like inflatable and portable hot tubs, they are free-standing, and since they heat via wood-burning stove, you’ll save 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 may 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, plus the time cost of potentially chopping them yourself. Wood-burning hot tubs are not as popular as the other three options listed because the limitations of the design make it harder to control the temperature or include a jet system.

Permanent Hot Tubs

Typical cost: Permanent hot tubs can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000.

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 you’ll need to account for in your cost calculations.

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 operating 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 you 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 temperatures. This material will keep heat in the tub more effectively than thinner materials. Remember, escaping heat will cool the water and require more energy to bring it back to the desired temperature.

How Much Does It Cost to Run a Hot Tub?

Many factors determine how much electricity a hot tub will need. In general, you can expect the size of the hot tub and the temperature at which the water is set to impact electricity costs the most. Note that the installation of either an indoor or outdoor hot tub must comply with National Electric Code requirements.

Temperature

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 degrees from a lower base temperature. If you use the hot tub frequently, it may make more sense to just maintain the water at your temperature of preference.

For prospective hot tub owners who live in four-season climates, putting the hot tub indoors, if possible, will help limit electricity costs as there won’t be as large of a temperature difference between the tub and the surrounding temperatures during 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 material.

Water Volume

Most average size hot tubs contain approximately 250 gallons of water. However, larger tubs 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.

Usage

Like anything else that requires electricity, the more usage the hot tub gets, the more it will cost. All factors considered, the end amount on 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 7.79 to 26.05, with the U.S. average hovering around 10 cents per kWh. Check the US Energy Information Administration for state-specific costs. According to many experienced hot tub owners, this translates to approximately $20 to $30 per month in the summer and up to $100 per month in the winter. This can be broken down further to $2 to $3 per day, assuming a half-hour of usage each day.

Hot Tub Maintenance Costs

Electricity is not the only recurring expense involved in owning a hot tub. Like any pool or home spa system, hot tubs must be maintained in order to keep them clean and working properly. Below we’ve outlined some typical maintenance costs you can expect to encounter.

Water Treatments

Water treatment chemicals and sanitizer are necessary in order to keep a hot tub free of contamination and bacteria. A hot tub should be cleaned approximately once a month. On Amazon, a 16oz bottle of cleaner costs 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 and supplies.

Nets

You’ll need a net 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.

Filters

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. That’s a yearly total of around $135 to $405 for filters alone. Running a hot tub with older filters will require pumps and heaters to work harder, using more energy and increasing costs.

Professional Cleaners

If the above 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 the above components would likely cost around $500 to $800 for the necessary chemicals, net, sponges, and filters. Most professional hot tub cleaning services are available for a few hundred dollars depending on the size, age, and current state of your hot tub.

Where Can You Purchase a Hot Tub?

Many big box stores sell hot tubs, including Walmart, The 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. Be on the lookout for end-of-season sales (typically from August to October) to help you find the best price.

In Summary

The costs of owning and running a hot tub vary depending on what kind of hot tub you buy and how frequently you use it. In general, the initial purchase price the tub will cost you anywhere from a few hundred dollars for a small inflatable model to several thousand for something larger and more permanent. Maintenance costs will run you between $500 to $800 per year, and electricity can cost anywhere from $30 to $100 per month, depending on weather and usage.

If you’re interested in more home spa and wellness information, we also cover the costs of a cryotherapy machine.

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2 comments

  • Diana Harvey says:

    If we have solar energy can we save the energy and run the hot tub off the solar in the evening?
    Can we run the hot tub off the solar during the day?

    • Hillary M. Miller says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Diana,

      It is possible to set up a solar-powered system to heat a hot tub, but depending on where you live and how much you use your hot tub, it won’t necessarily be easy (and it definitely won’t be cheap). Particularly when the jets are on, hot tubs lose heat rapidly — up to 1°F per minute — so quite a bit of power is required to maintain a steady temperature during use, especially when the ambient temperature is cool. Various solar energy hot tub kits are available, like the SunBank Solar Hot Tub, or if you know a bit about working with solar energy already, you can also consider building your own setup. Best of luck if you decide to pursue this option!