When you think of hot tubs, energy efficiency probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But you might be surprised by just how efficient a hot tub can be, especially if you choose one with the right environmentally-friendly features and then dedicate some time to do your part with regular maintenance that helps keep it running smoothly in the years to come.
Improving the Energy Efficiency of Hot Tubs
To begin the journey to energy-efficient hot tubs, let’s look at what the experts have to say. Since 2006, the California Energy Commission has partnered with the hot tub industry to test a variety of hot tub models and report on how energy efficient they really are. No matter where you are in the country, the California MAEDBS Database can be quite helpful.
When choosing a hot tub, you can look at the same factors California uses for their standards of energy efficiency. There are a few key points to consider.
- Insulation. High-density foam that fills the entire cabinet can help ensure the water stays hot without added energy. Many spas use ½ pound foam; look for models with higher density foam to help improve efficiency. Typically, the better the insulation, the better the quality of the hot tub. You can also add insulation in the form of thermal blankets on top of the water or insulated blankets around the cabinet of the tub; just be sure not to obstruct any vents.
- Dedicated jet pumps. For some hot tubs, the circulation pumps also work the jets; for less energy usage, look for hot tubs with pumps dedicated solely to controlling the jets. The circulation pump will work much less, saving money and energy over time. For even more benefit, look for a jet pump system that allows you to control only the jets you choose, instead of activating all of them by default.
- An insulated cover. Most of the heat of a hot tub escapes through the top, so it’s important to consider a strong, tight-sealing cover with dense foam insulation. Look for the cover’s R-value when choosing the most energy-efficient option; the higher the R-value, the greater the energy efficiency.
- Heaters. If your hot tub needs a 240-volt circuit, it’s using more energy than the typical 120-volt circuit. Though the 240-volt might be necessary if you have certain water features or a powerful pump, try to look for a heater that uses a 120-volt for instant energy savings.
- Size. The larger the tub, the more energy it’s likely going to consume. That’s why it’s vitally important to choose a hot tub that will meet your needs and nothing more. Consider how many people will be using it at any given time, how much space is needed for each person to relax, and add a bit for the unexpected visitor or two.
Other Considerations for Energy Efficiency of Hot Tubs
We’ve covered some issues that come along with particular models of hot tubs. But there are some points you can control, such as where you place the tub and how often you use it. Let’s take a look at what you can do to improve your hot tub’s energy efficiency.
- Where will you install the tub? An indoor tub will always use less energy than an outdoor one, simply because it can take advantage of the steady ambient temperature to help the water reach a certain temperature. However, providing shade for a hot tub that sits outside can help improve energy efficiency.
- Will you use it during all seasons? When the weather is warmer, the water will take much less time to heat, and the heaters won’t struggle as much to maintain that temperature. If you intend to use it in the winter, expect to see higher energy bills simply due to the heaters working hard to overcome the lower air temperature.
- What’s the right temperature for you? When you’re not using the hot tub, turn the temperature down. Lowering the temperature as little as 10 degrees can keep it hot but save up to 5% on your utility bills. The money saved over time will far outweigh the little bit of energy it takes to warm it back up when you choose to use the tub again.
- What’s your maintenance schedule? A regular maintenance schedule will help ensure the water flows on a regular basis, the filters are working properly, the pumps are humming along, and the jets are working as intended. The water will be cleaner, which means changing it less often. Unable to handle maintenance every day? Choose a hot tub that will allow you to program filtration, pumps, and more. Make a point of running the tub during off-peak hours to save even more energy.
Final Tips for Energy Efficiency in Hot Tubs
Finally, think about the maintenance issues that might rarely pop up – but when they do, you need to take immediate action.
One of the biggest issues that could affect energy efficiency is some sort of leak in the tub. This could mean water seeps into the air pockets in the foam insulation. Once those air pockets are filled with water, the insulating properties diminish. Get leaks fixed immediately, and then replace any foam that got waterlogged.
If latches break on the cover, replace them as soon as possible. Remember, a tight-fitting cover will help avoid evaporation and keep the heat in. If a strong wind can lift a corner, that’s enough for the hot tub to lose an incredible amount of energy in a short period of time. Keep those latches firmly attached and ensure they are working well.
Finally, don’t forget that assistance from a professional contractor can help keep your investment from costing too much money in the long run. Modernize can help connect you with contractors who know how to install your tub in the best possible area, assist you with creating a maintenance schedule, and perform any repairs necessary to keep your hot tub looking and working great.