For most people, a hot tub is worth the money if you use it regularly—and don't mind spending the time and energy it takes to maintain it.
A hot tub can be a fabulous luxury. However, an unused hot tub is an expensive waste of energy, and a poorly maintained one can pose health risks. If you're not able to take care of it, the hot tub won't be as much of a benefit to you and your family as you might think.
Hot tubs are a significant investment. Here, I'll help you decide if a hot tub is really going to be worth it for you, so you don't waste your hard-earned cash.
Pro #1: A hot tub can help heal your mind and body
Whether you need to decompress from work or you have sore muscles from exercise, a hot tub is a universally soothing experience.
Did you know you can even exercise in a hot tub?
Great for sports-related soreness
Hot water can help widen your blood vessels, improve circulation, and allow nutrients to move faster through your body. Similarly, if you are an athlete or like to work out, soaking in a hot tub can help speed up recovery for muscle pain and tightness.
Hot tub jets are specially designed to offer a relaxing hydrotherapy massage. Rubbing tight, knotted muscles (especially in areas where the jets can't reach) while in the hot tub can help too.
Helps with arthritis and back pain
Water's natural buoyancy can take the weight off sore, arthritic joints, minimizing swelling and inflammation. Heat can also help loosen up the tight neck, back, and shoulder muscles we all get from sitting at a desk or on the couch for too long.
Soothes mental stress
A hot tub can be a savior for mental health. A peaceful timeout in the hot tub will give you space away from the daily demands of life, helping you mentally decompress. Consider soaking for 20 minutes or so each night before bed—you'll sleep much more soundly.
Some studies have even considered how heat therapy can help with a range of physical and cognitive disorders: this study by The University of Kansas Medical Center suggests that heat therapy could offer immense clinical benefit to patients.
Pro #2: Have the best social gatherings in the neighborhood
Instead of gathering around the patio table, what if you and your friends could relax together in a hot tub? A spa can make any social gathering much more fun, especially if you want to spend time outdoors during chilly weather.
If you enjoy alcohol while using the hot tub, know your limits, and make sure you have water on hand. As you'll see later, heat, combined with alcohol, can be a bad mixture.
Hot tubs are not just for parties and get-togethers, but also for quality time with your partner—or the whole family if you have kids.
Pro #3: Spending time outdoors is no problem in chilly weather
As you might imagine, a hot tub is an excellent way to spend time outside when the weather turns cold. Most hot tubs are designed to stay at just the right temperature no matter when you use them, so you don't need to wait for them to heat up.
This means that yes, you can even spend time in a hot tub outdoors in the snow during winter. You might consider making it part of your wintertime routine to brew some coffee and take a morning soak. A hot tub can make those long, cold winter days a little more enjoyable.
More versatile than a pool
In colder climates, you'll get a lot more use out of a hot tub than a pool (they're also significantly easier to install). Pools are fun, but a hot tub is a great all-season alternative.
Con #1: Hot tubs must be properly (and regularly) maintained
Not taking proper care of your hot tub can cause unsanitary conditions, since a hot tub creates the perfect warm, moist environment for bacterial growth.
That's why you'll need a few chemicals and some equipment to make sure the water stays clean and safe.
You'll also need to clean the hot tub filter, and air out the cover every couple of weeks to prevent it becoming moldy or waterlogged.
You only need to completely drain and refill a hot tub every 2-4 months.
It's always a good idea to take a shower before getting in to avoid contaminating the water with deodorants or body lotions.
Overall, learning how to take care of a spa is not too tricky once you've mastered the basics.
Con #2: Your energy bill will increase
Energy usage is a concern for many hot tub owners, both for ecological and financial reasons.
And there's no way around it; a hot tub is going to cost money to run. It's potentially not as much as you might think, though, and there are things you can do to keep running costs down.
Energy costs will vary depending on your local climate, but you can expect to pay $50-$100 per month to power a hot tub.
Here are my top tips for keeping your energy costs down:
- If shopping for a new spa, choose an energy-efficient model. Modern hot tubs will always be better than 20-year-old ones, so consider upgrading if you have an old spa.
- Make sure your cover fits properly to create a seal. By sealing the entire top of the hot tub, you will ensure that the heat generated is contained within the tub itself—and not escaping and going to waste.
- Set your filtration cycle carefully. Many spa owners time their cycles for off-peak hours, when energy is cheapest.
- Let your spa stay up to temperature. Heating a spa from cold to hot actually consumes more energy than it takes to simply maintain the temperature at a consistent warm level (100°F is reasonable).
Con #3: You can't use a hot tub for too long
Although hot tubs offer some excellent relaxation benefits, you must take care not to expose your body to heat for too long—particularly if you have any heart or blood pressure issues. Always speak to your doctor before using a hot tub if you have concerns.
Limit hot tub time to around 20 minutes per session. If you want to stay in longer, consider reducing the temperature to 100°F or even 95°F.
Make sure you always have plenty of drinking water or a sports drink on hand to prevent dehydration.
You should never get in a hot tub if the temperature is above 104°F (luckily most won't let you heat them higher than this). If you ever start feeling uncomfortable, dizzy, or lightheaded while in a hot tub, get out of the water immediately and cool off.
You should also not use a hot tub if you are pregnant or have been drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Children can go into a hot tub, but only at temperatures of 95°F and below.
A well-maintained hot tub is a great source of relaxation and entertainment. Hot tubs may have their downsides, but I believe they are usually worth it for the great benefits they offer.
One caveat here: you must use the hot tub enough. Many people use a spa a lot in the first few weeks of owning it, and then over time, that usage tails off. (Ever wondered why there are so many used spas on Craigslist?)
However, if you know you'd soak in a spa regularly, take the time to maintain it properly, and use it safely and responsibly, your body and mind will thank you for this purchase!