Hot tubs generally see a spike in popularity during the summer months, when everybody wants to make the most of their garden and enjoy a few hours basking in the sunshine, but we’re firm believers in using an inflatable hot tub in winter as a great escape from the cold weather!
As far as we’re concerned, there’s nothing better than warming your bones during cold winter nights in the comfort of your hot tub, but to do so safely, there are a few considerations you’ll need to make to prevent damaging your hot tub or risking your health.
Complete Winter Hot Tub Guide
Using an Inflatable Hot Tub in Winter
1) Should I empty my hot tub in winter
Before the weather outside gets freezing cold, it’s a good idea to drain, clean and refill your hot tub, especially if you’ve been using the tub all summer and the water is full of nasties.
We sometimes get asked, what can I use to clean my hot tub filter? If you are unsure, see our useful guide for tips and tricks. Once you’ve done this, add new chemicals, add any accessories you may want and enjoy a memorable spa experience for the winter.
Once the temperature outside plummets below freezing, this task can become difficult and dangerous as you could easily slip on the icy ground or catch a cold when exposed to the freezing water. So, a few weeks before winter, make sure to properly drain and clean your spa before refilling it with clean water before the extreme cold sets in!
2) Where your hot tub is located is important.
If your hot tub is situated all the way at the end of your garden during the winter months, chances are you’re not going to want to drag yourself through the cold to use your hot tub regularly!
If you instead decide to install it as close to your home as possible, you’re much more likely to hop in for a daily dip, so consider moving your spa closer after it’s been drained to maximise your winter use.
3) Provide shelter
Winters can be terrible for wind so another essential consideration is whether your hot tub has an overhead shelter; not only can the cold winter rain and stormy weather ruin your soaks, but it could also easily damage your spa’s electrical components.
A solid shelter or a hot tub gazebo with sides will also help ward off the cold air outside and aid in preventing heat loss by insulating the area around your spa, which in and of itself will assist in keeping your hot tub running costs in check during an already costly time of year!
Energy costs can be a pain at the best of times; this is only magnified during the wintertime when you’ll be relying on your heater to prevent the hot tub water from freezing.
Luckily, making clever use of some added foam insulation, such as thick ground mats, can help to reduce how often you need to run your heater and help you keep on top of your energy bills!
5) Use a solar cover
Before setting up your hot tub in the winter, check that your hot tub cover is in good condition, with no tears or rips that could cause unnecessary heat loss during storage.
Using a solar cover or an insulting foil cover is best, with secure buckles fitted to the sides to both trap as much heat as possible and prevent the likelihood of anybody falling into the water when your hot tub is not in use.
6) Thermal blankets
Installing a floating thermal blanket on top of the water is another excellent way to help keep your hot tub warm overnight, especially if used with a hot tub cover and an outdoor shelter.
A high-quality cover can cost anywhere between £50-£100, though considering that it can cost as much as £40 to heat a hot tub from scratch during cold weather, we think it’s a wise investment!
7) Using Frost Protection Technology
Increasingly, the most well-known hot tub brands are beginning to include frost protection technology in their newest models, which can only be good news for winter tubbers!
Frost protection technology (AKA an anti-icing unit) uses an array of thermal sensors to constantly monitor the temperature in and around your hot tub, automatically engaging the heater if the water temperature drops below a set value, usually 1-5 degrees Celsius.
These systems are great for year-round use, as you won’t need to manually run your heater for long stretches of the day, which can result in massive savings on your winter costs!
What Your Spa Should Have
A hot tub that can be safely used all winter long will need to include a few features that not all models typically carry, mainly relating to insulation, heating capabilities and construction materials. Here are a few of the most important things to look out for.
1. A powerful pump
Your hot tub will be relying heavily on its pump to produce warm water throughout the coldest parts of the year, especially the winter months so it’s a good idea to check the wattage of your hot tub if you intend to use it year-round.
The more power your water pump can use, the faster it will heat your hot tub in the winter, so look for a hot tub model with a wattage of at least 1500w and a heating rate of around 2 degrees Celsius per hour.
2. The construction materials
Using your hot tub in cold weather will require good insulation to maintain a toasty water temperature. If you’re considering an inflatable spa, look for models constructed from layered PVC designed to trap the heat inside for as long as possible.
Many modern hot tubs use thermal chambers inside their walls that absorb the heat from the water and slowly release it over time. If you can find a spa that uses this feature, chances are it will make for a good winter hot tub!
3. Energy-efficiency features
The newest hot tubs are packed with high-tech features, like the frost protection we previously mentioned and energy-saving timers. These can be set to switch your heater and jets on and off for set amounts of time to help reduce your energy costs.
No matter how much insulation you have, you’ll need to regularly heat the water to keep your hot tub warm during cold weather, so rather than spending loads on constantly running your heater, look for a model that makes use of these energy-efficiency features!
4. Hydro jets
Unlike the more commonly found air blower jets that suck in cold air from outside to produce bubbles inside your hot tub spa, hydro jets use only heated water to create a targeted massage function.
Hot tubs that only use air jets will quickly lose heat when these devices are bubbling away, whereas a spa fitted with hydro jets will benefit from an added injection of warm water. The only issue is that hot tubs with these jets are often much more expensive!
Safety Tips for Using an Inflatable Hot Tub in Cold Weather
During the winter, you don’t only need to worry about keeping your hot tub safe from the freezing weather. You’ll also need to take some precautions to protect yourself from harm and illness, paying particular attention to your body temperature, fluid intake and an exit strategy when in the hot tub.
Set an appropriate temperature – Hot tubs during the winter should be warm enough to ward off the cold, but setting too high of a temperature can increase the risk of heart problems and dehydration. We recommend aiming for a range of 36-40 degrees Celsius.
Stay hydrated – If you’re prone to enjoying long soak times of over 20 minutes, you should be wary of becoming dehydrated when relaxing in the water, so make sure to drink plenty of fluids!
Avoid alcohol – Many hot tub owners enjoy the odd alcoholic drink during their dips with family and friends, but be cautious of getting drunk. This cannot only speed up dehydration, but it may also cause you to slip on the frozen ground outside when it’s time to head indoors to the house. Consider some slippers when getting out of spas or place something down on the surface around the tub so people don’t slip over.
Exit strategy – Speaking of heading indoors, you should be wary of the cold air when leaving your hot tub, so make sure to have proper shoes and a towel ready and head straight inside when exiting the water.
Watch the weather – If there’s heavy rainfall or the storms brewing on the horizon, it might be best to avoid your daily dip. If the mercury drops below zero, you should be extra cautious of any ice to avoid slipping when entering and exiting your hot tub! Keep an eye on the water levels, pumps and pipes to ensure there is no permanent damage due to the cold.
When You Shouldn’t Use
Although using your hot tub in the winter is mostly safe, and the comforting warmth can provide health benefits and relief to aching muscles and winter colds, there are a few occasions where it’s best to avoid hot tubbing; these include:
- If you’re experiencing a fever
- During heavy storms
- If you’re overly intoxicated
- If you suffer from any heart conditions
- If you’re pregnant
How Much Does it Cost to Run a Hot Tub in the Winter?
Generally speaking, running your hot tub during the winter will be a little more expensive than it is during the summer months. This is primarily down to an increased need to run the heater and jets, though that’s not to say you can’t minimise your running costs with some clever planning.
How do I winterise my hot tub?
If using your hot tub in winter sounds like too much of a faff, you’ll want to learn how to deflate and fold the spa and place it in a lay z spa storage bag where you can seal it and keep it dry.
Can using a hot tub spa in winter damage it?
The leading cause of hot tub damage in the winter is the water freezing within the plumbing system and the pump. Ensuring that the water inside your hot tub never drops below 0 degrees Celsius. However, the use of regular heating and insulation will prevent this from being an issue.
Minimum temperature for hot tub in winter?
Whilst there’s no set outdoor temperature in which you can’t use a hot tub, most manufacturers recommend avoiding setting up your spa in temperatures below 4 degrees Celsius.
The real risk comes when you leave the water and are exposed to the cold air. Even if this is only for a minute, you’re likely to catch a cold, so we recommend avoiding your dips when the mercury drops below zero.
We’re big fans of using your hot tub in the winter, finding that a warming soak at the end of a long day can be the perfect antidote to the winter blues, but safely enjoying your hot tub spa during the coldest months of the year does require a little extra attention.
Make sure to fully drain your hot tub and balance its water chemistry before the cold weather rolls in, and fix any poor insulation with the use of thermal blankets, a secure cover and an overhead shelter where possible!
Be cautious of spending too much time in the cold air, and keep the hot tub’s water warm enough to prevent illness and avoid damaging your spa with frozen water, but most of all, enjoy making the most of your winter-ready hot tub!