As we get closer to the winter time I thought I’d discuss what is on the mind of every hot tub owner, how to save money on the running costs of your hot tub! In this entry we will cover how to save money on your electric bill by properly setting your hot tub’s filtration and heating. We will also cover how proper maintenance of the hot tub can lead to big long term savings, and end with a few quick tips to get your hot tub running as efficiently as possible.
Even if the hot tub was well insulated when new; spray foam hot tub insulation can become waterlogged over time, losing its effectiveness. If you notice that your hot tub has a leak you should try to get it fixed as soon as possible. Not fixing a leak can cost you money in two main ways.
Firstly, the lost water has to be replaced. Water loss not only adds to your water bill but also your electricity and chemical bills as the replacement water will need to be heated, and treated with chemicals. The leak will have also saturated the foam insulation, dramatically reducing that insulations effectiveness. Foam insulation works by trapping heat within its air pockets. Since water is a much poorer insulator than air, wet insulation is much less effective than dry insulation. For this reason it is recommended that you remove and replace any insulation that has become saturated after the leak has been repaired in order to restore the hot tub back to its peak insulating ability.
For that same reason you should also replace your hot tub covers as they become saturated. The foam insulation in hot tub covers is wrapped in a thin layer of plastic to prevent saturation of the foam from the steam coming off of the hot tub water. Over time, this plastic will deteriorate, or get punctured, and the foam will begin to take on water, and get very heavy. Since anywhere from 30-40% of the heat loss in a hot tub comes from the cover, it is important to replace the cover as soon as you notice the cover getting heavy. For more on replacing your hot tub cover check out our hot tub cover blog here.
Programing Your Filtration
Properly programming your hot tub’s filtration cycles is one of the best ways to save money on the running costs of your hot tub.
One of the easiest ways to save money on your hot tub’s electrical bill is to properly program its filtration cycles. Most new hot tubs will allow for some degree of controllability of the hot tubs filtration, usually at least allowing you to set the start time and duration of the filtration cycles.
When possible, program your hot tub to run mid-day and overnight to avoid peak energy rates. Most hot tubs only need to run for 12 hours a day or less to properly filter the water with average use (3-5 times a week), and some as low as 4 hours a day. Some new hot tubs now allow you to program each day to run differently to account for the different peak energy times between weekends and weekdays. Note: Some hot tubs use a circulation pump to filter the water and need to run for 24hrs a day to properly filter the water.
If you will not be using your hot tub for two or more days you can set it to run in an “economy mode”. This will drop the set temperature of the hot tub, effectively turning off the heater until the hot tub runs a filtration cycle. By not running the heater as often you save on energy costs, however the temperature of the water will tend to drift quite a bit between filter cycles. For that reason you typically will not want it running in economy mode if the hot tub is going to be used.
Some manufacturers have built-in pre-set programs that can automatically switch between economy mode and standard mode based on your usage, most however need to be manually changed between the two. Note: Economy mode should only be used if you are not planning on using the hot tub for two or more days, any less than that and it is more efficient to keep it at a set temperature. You can instead lower the set temperature by 2 degrees. Every degree dropped can make a big difference in the energy consumption of a hot tub.
By regularly cleaning your hot tub’s filters you ensure the pump doesn’t work harder than it needs to.
• Hot tub filters should be cleaned every week. A dirty filter doesn’t allow water to pass through it as easily as a clean filter does; which makes the pump work harder to maintain proper flow.
• Shut off your air controls when the hot tub is not in use. The air that is added will cool down the water, making your heater work harder to maintain temperature.
• The cover clips should always be clipped in when you’re not using the hot tub. These clips help to keep the cover firmly closed and without them the cover can be lifted by the wind, or from positive air pressure building up under the cover if your air controls are left open. This will allow heat, and water, in the form of steam, to escape. If your clips are broken, replacement clips can be purchased for most hot tub covers.
• You can purchase a floating thermal blanket that sits on the hot tub water; adding another layer of insulation, and slowing evaporation. With newer hot tubs a significant amount of the overall heat loss will come through evaporation.
While going out and buying a new, state of the art, energy efficient hot tub is still the best way to ensure you’re spending the lowest amount possible on your hot tub, it’s not always practical to do so. As you can see there are still many ways you can save a lot of money with your existing hot tub. Even small things like lowering your temperature by one or two degrees, or reprogramming your hot tub’s filtration to run on off-peak times can make a large difference on your monthly energy bill.