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Archive for the ‘Money Saving Tips’ Category

Hot Tub Maintenance Tips for Earth Day

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earth day savings hot tub tipsWhen it comes to protecting our environment, the benefits are often two-fold. Not only do you get the satisfaction of knowing you’re doing your part to help conserve and protect our planet’s finite natural resources, but in the case of hot tubs, there are some financial savings to be had, as well! Here are three easy ways to make your hot tub more eco-friendly this Earth Day – April 22! Save energy with improved insulation, reduce chemical use by using alternative sanitizers, and conserve water by improving your spa filtration and maintenance practices. Let’s explore how to make your spa or hot tub more environmentally friendly.

Save Energy: Improve Insulation

Hot tubs and hot tub covers are made to withstand mild, moderate and/or severe winter climates. Hot tubs that are not as well insulated as they could be, particularly around the sides and on top, take more energy to maintain hot water temperatures and overcome radiant heat loss. This becomes more pronounced during very low temperatures and high wind conditions. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to add more R-value to a poorly insulated spa. Pink brand insulation (Owens Corning) has lots of boards and thin bats that can be retrofitted into a spa cabinet to increase spa insulation.

On the topside, look at our Ultra or Works spa covers, for the best thermal performance in a spa cover. Replacing a thin, ill-fitting or waterlogged cover with a heavier weight 1.5 lb. or 2 lb. foam, in a 6-4″ taper, will really improve your hot tub’s insulation and save you money on heat loss around the cover. For high winds, which can seep in under the cover and cool your hot tub, our high wind straps keep your spa from lifting up slightly during heavy winds. Finally, adding a floating spa blanket traps heat in the water where it belongs, and the added heat barrier helps reduce heat loss even further.

Reduce Chemical Use: Alternative Sanitizers

When you reduce your use of chlorine and bromine, the Earth wins, because when you reduce your demand for chlorine or bromine, the supply (and production, and transport) slows down to compensate, as supply always adjusts to meet demand. Adding alternative or secondary sanitizers to your spa can cut your usage of chlorine or bromine by as much as half. Adding minerals or ozone purifiers to your spa helps remove the majority of the contaminants in the water, which in turn allows you to use a much lower level of bromine or chlorine in the spa. Some people use minerals and ozone together in conjunction with regular applications of non-chlorine MPS shock. The result is a completely chlorine free hot tub.

Mineral sanitizers for spas are so easy to use! Just drop the Nature2 Spa Stick or other brand mineral stick into the hole in your filter cartridge. Water passing by is instantly purified as it picks up the minerals. There are also floating mineral systems that will automatically add a supplemental level of bromine or chlorine to the water for you.

Connecting a spa ozonator is a piece of cake on any ozone-ready spa or hot tub. For tubs without a Mazzei injector manifold or other port to connect the ozone hose, you can install your own Mazzei injector into 3/4″ or 1″ water hose leading to a low-water ozone jet. It’s best to push ozone out of a dedicated ozone jet near the floor of the tub, but ozone can also be introduced through certain low wall jets.

Conserve Water: Adjust Maintenance Routines

anti-microbial-filter-spasYour spa filter is the most important part of maintaining healthy water. In fact, a good spa filter can be the difference between changing the water every 3-4 months, or even waiting longer if you have a really good spa filter. You’ll also need fewer chemicals to maintain water quality. There are some simple things you can do to improve water filtration for longer lasting water.

First, many spa filter cartridges are available in the standard square footage size (25 sq. ft. for example), but you can often find the same size filter cartridge with more square footage (37.5 sq. ft. for example). It’s the same dimensional size spa filter cartridge, but it has more pleats for more square footage, which translates to a greater filter surface area. Second, many spa filter cartridges are also available as a blue Microban cartridge, which kills bacteria on contact. The Microban never wears off, although the cartridge itself will not last any longer than normal. Another thing you can do to really improve your spa filtration is to add a second spa filter. We have a blog about that process in more detail. Having two spa filters can drastically extend the time between water changes, and with a large spa filter, a spa could conceivably go an entire year between water changes! Finally, remember that filter cartridges should replaced every 12-24 months, depending on how big your filter is and how often the spa is used. Regularly replacing your filter cartridge is the first step to maintaining water quality and preventing excessive water changes.

When you do change the water, it doesn’t have to go to waste. There are many ways you can recycle the water and decrease your demand. You’ll want the chlorine or bromine level to be as low as possible when you drain the spa (around 1 ppm or less), so try to avoid adding sanitizer in the days leading up to draining. Balanced water with little to no sanitizer is safe to use for watering grass, trees, bushes or other plants around your property. Just move the end of the hose coming from your drain, siphon or pump around the yard every few minutes to prevent water pooling or runoff. You can also pump clean water into a nearby swimming pool (if you have one). If you live in dry or drought-stricken areas, another option is to water your home’s foundation or concrete walkways and driveways to prevent dry cracks. If you are using a small submersible pump to drain the spa, you can also use this water to wash your vehicle or other large equipment.

 

Happy Earth Day from your friends at Hot Tub Works!

Can a Hot Tub Be Tax Deductible?

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hot tub medical deduction Thinking of purchasing a new hot tub this year? If so, you may be able to deduct a portion (or in some cases, the total amount) of the expenses from your tax returns by claiming it as a medical expense.

Medical expenses are defined by the Internal Revenue Service as “the costs of diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, and for the purpose of affecting any part or function of the body. These expenses include payments for legal medical services rendered by physicians, surgeons, dentists, and other medical practitioners. They include the costs of equipment, supplies, and diagnostic devices needed for these purposes.”

According to Publication 502 from the IRS, some medical expenses can be deducted when filing an income tax return. In its opinion letter Index No.: 213.05-00, “Section 213(a) allows as a [tax] deduction the expenses paid during the taxable year for medical care of the taxpayer, spouse, or dependent.” If a medical professional has diagnosed a medical condition that can be cured or relieved with hydrotherapy or swimming, a consumer may be able to claim a medical deduction for their hot tub and hot tub supplies.

The general health benefits of hot tubs are not enough for it to qualify as a medical expense; you must get a prescription or written treatment recommendation from your physician. Conditions that may qualify for a prescription include arthritis, chronic back pain, fibromyalgia, chronic depression, restless leg syndrome, as well as other diseases or injuries. Because a hot tub is of a particularly personal nature, the consumer must establish that it is primarily for the cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease before the cost can be deducted. Bear in mind that if people other than the one prescribed will be using the hot tub, or if it will be used for enjoyment purposes in addition to the prescribed treatment/therapy purposes, you won’t be able to deduct 100% of its cost. The value of your deduction will also depend on your tax bracket. Keep good records and discuss with your tax professional to make sure you can provide adequate proof of your medical needs to the IRS.

Capital improvement expenses can also be deducted for the installation of special equipment in the home. The purpose of its installation should be for medical care of either yourself, your spouse or any of the dependents living in that home. If it’s a permanent improvement that increases the value of your home, the increase in value would be directly reflected in a decrease of your medical expense deduction. If the improvements have no effect on property value, the entire cost of installation can be considered as a medical expense. Consumers may need to have property appraised to determine if the value has or has not increased.

In summary, it you want to write off a new spa or hot tub, including covers, chemicals, equipment and other supplies, you must have a doctor’s prescription for it. If you feel that you could benefit physically or mentally from warm water therapy, we encourage you to discuss the benefits of a hot tub or swim-spa with a qualified medical care professional and see if you’re a candidate for prescribed spa therapy. Before you run out and buy a new spa, you should first check with a tax professional in your area to make sure your hot tub, related supplies and other expenses can be included as a medical expense write-off on your federal or state tax returns.

New Uses for Old Hot Tub Water

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Reduce, Reuse and Recycle your hot tub water. Hot tub and spa owners generally replace their spa water every 90-120 days, or every 3-4 months. The reason for this is that the water becomes choked with invisible (at first) solids, minerals and contaminants that overwhelms the spa filter and sanitizer. This leads to cloudy, dull spa water which may be unhealthy.

Draining and refilling a spa or hot tub is a relatively simple and painless process, but what if your region is undergoing water restrictions, or for your own environmental reasons, you want to drain the spa fewer times per year?

In some cities and counties, draining your spa can be a punishable offense, with fees or fines that create an incentive to extend the time between spa water changes.

Here’s 6 ways to recycle old hot tub water or re-purpose spa water to other uses, and 8 ways to extend your hot tub water lifespan, so you don’t need to drain so often.

 

<<< 6 Ways to Reuse Hot Tub Water >>>

 

Water your lawn

Spa water makes fine lawn water, as long as you open the cover and allow the chlorine or bromine level to drop to around 1 ppm. It need not be at zero, but it shouldn’t be higher than 3 ppm, or certain types of grasses may object and start to turn a yellow color after a few days. Your spa water should also be relatively well balanced, or at least the pH level should be below 7.8, and even 7.0 to 7.2 if possible, as most lawn grasses prefer a slightly acidic pH level. Move the hose around every half hour, so you don’t over-saturate one area of the lawn.

Water your trees and bushes

Spa water also makes fine water for trees and bushes, again as long as the chlorine or bromine level is not off the chart, it’s ok to have 1-2 ppm, which is the same amount you might find in a tap water test. Plants that have been accustomed to chlorinated water (from municipal water supply), can tolerate even higher levels, but it’s always best to open the spa cover, and run the jets for awhile, to allow chlorine to dissipate to a safer level, below 3 ppm. If your spa uses a saltwater spa system, be sure that your plants and trees are salt-tolerant before using spa water for irrigation.

Water your home foundation

For those that live in the drier parts of the country, you may have heard horror stories of home foundations cracking when the ground becomes too dry. Or new concrete driveways or walkways that can settle if the ground beneath dries and shrinks too much. In times of drought, when rainfall is scarce, hot tub water can be used to soak the ground around the home, or near concrete placement. This soaks into the soil, expanding it to a greater volume, for support of heavy concrete and steel structures.

Pump it into your pool

Sure why not? Unless it’s dark green and super funky, a large swimming pool can easily absorb a few hundred gallons of spa water without batting an eyelash. It’s actually what I do, when I’m not needing to water the lawn or my plants, I just run the hose over to the pool and recycle my spa water, magically turning it into pool water.

Pump it into a doggy pool

During the hotter parts of the summer, my dogs love to take a dip, but they know not to go in the pool, with my direct (adult) supervision. I bought a Walmart kiddie pool a few years ago for my dogs. Now when I do a spa water change in the summer, I use about 80 gallons of hot tub water to fill up the doggy pool (kiddie pool), repurposing my old spa water, and (magically) turning it into doggy pool water.

Wash your car or boat

For this trick you will need a submersible pump, and a long garden hose to reach the driveway. I have used my spa water to wash our 2 cars, with some left over to water the front lawn. Since a submersible pump should not be used with a spray nozzle, the hose is constantly running. Place the hose on the lawn during the times you are scrubbing the car (or boat), you can kill two birds with one stone. If you have a community water watch organization on patrol, you may need to explain that you are recycling your hot tub water, and not just letting tap water run down the driveway.

 

<<< 8 Ways to Extend Hot Tub Water Life >>>

 

Maintain optimum water balance

Keeping your spa pH, Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness levels not only makes the water more enjoyable to soak in, but allows your sanitizer and filter to work more effectively, keeping your water from spoilage sooner.

Shower before using your spa

Reducing the amount of oily, flaky, gunky stuff into the spa could be the number one thing to extend your spa water lifespan. For those that treat their hot tub like a bath tub, this creates a huge demand on your spa filter and sanitizer, and leads to smelly, cloudy and possibly unsafe water conditions. You don’t have to take a shower every single time, but if you need a shower, be sure to wash up well with soap and water before using the spa. And keep your head and hair out of the water, to reduce oil and soap contamination.

Shock after using your spa

Even though you are careful to wash before using the spa, shocking the spa after use is a good way to extend hot tub water life. But depending on how many people are using the spa, and for how long, a spa shock treatment may not be always needed. Use your judgement, but try to shock the spa at least once per week, to break apart chemical compounds and contaminants and kill any algae or bacteria.

Install a larger or second spa filter

We’ve covered this idea before, you can sometimes find the same size spa filter cartridge in a larger square footage size. This means that you increase the filter surface area, with a cartridge that has more pleats per inch. More surface area means better filtration. Another way to improve filtration is to use a Microban cartridge, which is coated with a bacteria killing layer (these are the Blue spa filters). Thirdly, you can install a second spa filter, inline underneath the spa, or an external filter placed beside the spa. With enough square footage of filter area, you could easily double or triple your spa water life.

Install an ozonator or mineral purifier

Anything that helps kill bacteria or remove contaminants from the spa water will increase water quality and lengthen the time between draining a hot tub. Ozonators and Mineral Sanitizers are two ways to do this, without heavy reliance on bromine and chlorine. You can reduce the need for halogen sanitizers like bromine and chlorine, while at the same time improving water quality and increasing the time between water changes.

Use spa clarifier or spa enzymes

Spa clarifiers are used to improve your spa filtration. They work to increase the particle size by coagulating suspended particles together, in a size that won’t pass right through the filter. Used regularly, spa clarifiers can stave off an impending water change by allowing the filter to keep the water cleaner, reducing cloudy and dull water. The same is true for spa enzymes, many of which are mixed with clarifiers. Enzymes are organic creatures that consume oils and gunk in the water, actually removing them and reducing the work for your filter and sanitizer.

Use a spa water prefilter when filling

Especially for those on a well, or for city water supply that is not always clean or perfectly balanced, using a spa pre-filter when you fill the spa can lead to a longer water life. A hot tub pre-filter screws on the end of your garden hose and filters out minerals, metals, chloramines, contaminants, oils – leaving you with very pure water – H2O. When you start with clean fresh water, with a low TDS (total dissolved solids) level, you can add weeks or months to the life of your spa water. I always use a pre-filter, and can tell you that it does make a difference!

Filter the water longer each day

Many spa owners naturally try to reduce their energy use with the spa, but reducing your filtering time too much can cost you more money in chemicals and water changes. For those spas with a 24 hr circulation pump – run the pump 24 hours, but also be sure to have a few jet pump runs during the day, to force high pressure water through the pipes and filter. This helps avoid biofilm cultures from growing and prevents dead zones in the spa circulation. If your spa water turns cloudy or dull too easily, you may need more daily filtration, and/or a new spa filter cartridge.

 


 

Look to find ways to reuse your spa water around the home, and try to improve your water quality so you only need to drain your spa 2 or 3 times per year, instead of 3 or 4 …

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Save Money with House Brand Spa Chemicals

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If you are like me, you buy a lot of house-brand food at your grocery store, or if you opt for the house wine or house dressing at a restaurant, you know that house-brand products use the same recipe as national brands, but sell for a much lower price point.

It’s the same with our house brand spa chemicals – 12 Hot Tub Works branded chemicals for cleaning, balancing and sanitizing your spa water.

Hot Tub Works spa chemicals are made with the same recipe as Leisure Time or Rendezvous products, but without fancy 4 color bottles and a national advertising and sales force budget. As a result of these cost savings, you can save 20-30% on your hot tub chemical expenses. Now isn’t that nice.

 

Hot Tub Works Spa Cleaning Chemicals


HTW spa-hot-tub-cleaning-chemicals shown

 

Hot Tub Works Spa Water Balance Chemicals


HTW water balancers - spa and hot tub chemicals shown

  • Calcium Increaser: Use to raise Calcium Hardness into the range of 180-220 ppm.
  • pH Plus: Use to raise pH level into the range of 7.4-7.6.
  • pH Minus: Use to lower pH level into the range of 7.4-7.6. Also lowers Alkalinity.
  • Alkalinity Increaser: Use to raise Total Alkalinity into the range of 80-120 ppm.

 

Hot Tub Works Spa Accessory Chemicals


image showing brom booster, clarifier, spa protect adn spa metal out

  • Brom Booster: Bromide Ion booster to replace those lost after draining and refilling spas.
  • Spa Natural Clarifier: With Chiton, natural polymers to coagulate suspended particles.
  • Spa Protect: Metal and Mineral sequestering agent to protect shiny spa surfaces.
  • Spa Metal Out: Stain removal and prevention treatment for metals and minerals.

 

>>> We don’t manufacture every spa chemical that is available – but for these top selling 12 items, we are proud to have our own house brand of high quality spa chemicals available to you, at significant savings over name brand spa chemicals.

And if you buy hot tub chemicals during This Week’s Sale (changes weekly) you can save an additional 20%, or more!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

10 Spa and Hot Tub Energy Conservation Tips

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bullfrog-spas-heat-map-of-full-foam-spaSome spas are built for a warm climate, while other spas are specifically designed for use in cold weather areas. A spa or hot tub that is energy efficient can use half of the energy of one that is not.

Spa insulation is the main factor, but there are many other variables that influence the amount of electricity used by your spa or hot tub. Here’s a few ways to curb your spa’s appetite for energy.

 

ADD WIND BLOCKS

hickorydickorydecksWind sweeping across the surface sure feels nice, but it also pulls a lot of heat from the surface. If your spa is not protected from the winds, consider installing small walls or plants on the side(s) with the most wind. They are usually installed on two sides, to preserve a preferred view, and can also serve as a privacy screen. Custom build it to your specifications, or you can order retractable spa wind screens online.

CLOSE THE AIR JETS

close-the-spa-air-knobAfter using the spa, remember to close the knobs that allow air to be sucked into the jets. Cold air being introduced constantly will cool the water, requiring your heater and pump to work harder to replace the heat that is lost. Heat loss is minor when using the spa for 15 minutes or so, but if you leave them open for days and days, you may notice an increase in hot tub energy use. For me, it’s the last thing we do, but I don’t usually open all of the air jet knobs, so I just close the one off before putting the cover back on. Remember to close the air jets!

TURN OFF THE BLOWER

The air blower, if your spa is equipped with one, is a real energy hog, besides being noisy and also cooling down the water with cold air injection. If you can go without forced air in the hot tub, you will absolutely reduce a hot tub’s energy usage. And when your spa blower finally bites the dust (and they all do someday), consider not replacing it.

FIND THE PUMP RUN TIME SWEET SPOT

spa-timers-can-save-moneyModern spas are somewhat self regulating with certain programmable modes, but for older spas or hot tubs, your filter pump or spa pump should use a timer, or be programmed to run in 2 or 3 shifts of about 3 or 4 hours each. When the pump is running, the filter, heater and purifiers can also operate, so it’s important to run it long enough each day (every day) to maintain water quality. Program your pump to run 2-4 times during the day, paying close attention to water quality. Some spas are fine with 4 hours per day, but others need 8 hours per day of pump run time, to both maintain water quality and water temperature.

TIP: Remember that spa pumps (and all motors) use a lot of power (amperes) just to start, so starting and stopping too often will increase spa energy consumption.

TURN DOWN THE SPA HEATER:

Turn down the heater to 90° if you won’t be using the spa for a week. For 2 weeks or longer, set it lower, but keep the spa water well above freezing – we recommend no lower than 65 degrees, to maintain some heat in the event of a winter power outage.

Turning down the heat for just the weekend, or even a week, and it can cost more to re-heat the spa than it would’ve cost to just to maintain the heat. Even so, many weekly spa users (myself included), maintain a temperature of about 95°, and bump it up to 102° an hour before using the spa.

RUN YOUR SPA DURING OFF-PEAK HOURS:

Off peak pump/heater operation, according to Energy.gov, may save you money over time. Check with your local power provider for peak times in your area, and available Time of Use rates. Generally speaking, peak rates are during weekdays, from 9-5 pm, although it varies by region and season.

USE A BETTER OR BEST SPA COVER

Notice I didn’t say a Good spa cover, or the El Cheapo spa covers; go for the Better or even the Best spa cover, if you really want to save energy by reducing heat loss. Our lower tier spa covers are only suitable for warm southern climates. If you have any kind of winter – buy a hot tub cover that can really hold in the heat.

you-need-a-new-spa-cover-1It goes without saying that a good spa cover can save money, while a bad spa cover can waste money. Spa covers that are waterlogged lose over half of their R-value, or insulation value. Hot tub covers that are warped, torn, or broken will not fit properly around the edges and leak precious heat from the sides or along the center hinge. Replacing an old spa cover before you really need to – is a surefire way to save money on heating a hot tub.

TIGHTEN UP YOUR SPA COVER

spa-cover-wind-straps-smAdjust your spa cover straps if necessary so that there is a slight downward pull on the strap, as you click the clip into place. This helps to pull-down the spa cover to snug-up against the spa top edge. Loose spa cover straps allow heat to leak out and high winds to get under the spa cover. Spa strap clips can be replaced if broken, or if your spa straps are completely torn off, you can use our heavy-duty over-the-top spa cover wind straps. A less elegant, but also effective way is to use a sheet of 1/2″ plywood, to gently hold it down and reduce heat loss from a loose or ill-fitting spa cover.

USE A FLOATING SPA COVER

floating-spa-blanketA secondary floating spa cover can increase your overall R-value by up to a third. Floating spa blankets are 1/4″ closed cell foam, to keep heat trapped in the water, and reduce moisture beneath the spa cover. It also prevents chemical damage to a hot tub cover, by containing the chemicals in the water. Foam spa blankets work much better than solar blanket type, which is a heavy duty bubble wrap type material – but any secondary spa cover will help, even plastic kitchen wrap!

INCREASE CABINET INSULATION

For spas that didn’t come with a lot of insulation around the cabinet, energy efficiency can be increased by strategically adding insulation underneath and around the spa or hot tub. There are several ways to do this, but remember that your pumps still need adequate air ventilation and circulation to prevent overheating. Never cover air intake vents or reduce the size of the equipment bay.

Spray Foam: There are spray foam kits that you can use to cover pipes and the back of the spa shell. Be sure to use a spray foam that has a high R-value and that you apply it according to directions. For best results, remove all cabinet panels before applying foam. A full-foam treatment may be difficult, but an inch or two on the spa shell and covering exposed pipes (outside of the equipment area) is do-able.

owens-corning-fiberglassInside Cabinet: You can also use wall or attic insulation, in soft rolls or rigid panels, to line the inside of your spa cabinet panels. Reflective bubble wrap insulation, placed on the inside of cabinet panels, can help by reflecting heat inward, back towards the spa.

Outside Cabinet: Another method is to construct an enlarged cabinet around the existing cabinet and fill the space with insulation. Or described another way, affix rigid insulation panels to the outside of your cabinet panels, and soft insulation on the corners, then build another cabinet from wood paneling, on the outside of the new insulation. Cap it with a heavy board on top of the enlarged cabinet.

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Save 4 Ways with a New Spa Filter

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unicel-cartridge-guy-with-htw-logoSpa cartridges are one of our fastest moving products here at Hot Tub Works. We ship over 50,000 spa filters per year to spa owners all over the country. So it’s only natural that we’re going to talk about them on the blog!

Yes, we like to sell hot tub cartridges, but it’s a product that feels good to sell, because I know that it’s improving water quality and health, and reducing energy and water consumption. It’s a win-win for us both!

So for those spa owners out there that still think their cartridge can last another few months (we recommend changing it every 10-15 cleanings or every 12-18 months, whichever comes first), here’s some ways that a new hot tub cartridge saves.

 

save-money-2SAVE MONEY:  A new hot tub cartridge filters so much better than a worn filter cartridge that you will find you need less chemicals to keep it clean like MPS, clarifiers or foam-out. A new spa filter can also reduce staining, or deadly deposits on your heater core. New cartridges on schedule can allow you to run the pump less, while using fewer chemicals. Using an old cartridge requires more pump run time and more chemicals to compensate for the inability of older cartridges to trap fine particles. You’ll save more money than you spend on regularly replacing a spa filter cartridge.

 

saving-water-is-coolSAVE WATER: If you are under water restrictions in your area, or would just prefer to reduce the frequency of draining and refilling the tub (which also saves money), buying a new spa filter on schedule will enable you to increase the length of time between water changes. For those of you under extreme hot tub water restrictions, changing water only once or twice per year, we recommend a new cartridge every 6-12 months. Some of our customers are finding success with draining only halfway every six months, but also replacing the spa filter cartridge at the same time.

 

world-energySAVE ENERGY: Everyone likes to save energy. Spas and hot tubs are not huge energy hogs, but every little bit helps. As mentioned earlier, new or almost new hot tub filters are so much more effective than old or almost old cartridges, that you can actually run the pump 1-2 hours less per day, and maintain the same water quality. As a filter cartridge ages, the constant battering from the water flow and from periodic cleanings forces open small gaps between the woven polyester fibers. This allows small particles to pass through unfiltered, requiring – you guessed it, more filtering (and or more chemicals) to keep the water clean and clear.

 

your-precious-timeSAVE TIME: Why do you save time? A new or almost new spa filter cartridge will filter the water more effectively, which means that your water will stay clean and balanced more easily, with less water problems. It also can last twice as long before it needs cleaning, as compared to a 24 month old spa cartridge, which clogs quickly from oil and mineral deposits that don’t come out, even with chemical soaking. What’s worse is that as spa filters age, they can’t trap the small particles anymore. New filters can filter down below 20 microns, but an old cartridge may not trap sizes of 35 micron particles, which is where particles become visible to the human eye.

 

In case you’re wondering, I change my spa filter every 15 months, like clockwork. Set yourself an email reminder with the link to your particular spa filter, so you can reorder your spa filter on schedule. Maybe we should start a spa filter subscription service!?!

 

– Jack

 

Hot Tub Water Conservation

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do-not-wash-saving-water-for-my-hot-tub

Are hot tubs and spas water wasters? The mayor of San Jose thinks so – in May, the San Jose city council voted to prohibit filling pools and hot tubs. And in Santa Clara, California, hot tub owners are allowed to replace hot tub water, but only after agreeing to take fewer showers.

Santa Clara also has required “Water School” for the edification of water restriction violators. What’s this world coming to? It is the new reality of life in California and other water poor states. Until the drought subsides, or new water harvesting technologies are installed, we will have to comply.

So then, for the hot tub owner who wants to keep their hot tub bubblin’, here are some ways to conserve hot tub water.

How to Extend the Life of Hot Tub Water

It’s a commonly accepted practice to drain and refill a spa after 3-4 months of use. This is due to a build-up of dissolved solids and and oily substances that can begin to “choke” the water over time, which can make water balance and complete sanitation more difficult. However, there are ways to extend the life of your spa or hot tub water…

Beginner Tips:

  • Check and balance the water 2-3 times per week, to keep levels optimum.
  • Replace your Spa Filter every 6-12 months, to keep filtration optimum.
  • Use a Spa Ozonator or Mineral Purifier, as a supplement to bromine.
  • Use Spa Enzymes to dissolve oils and organics.
  • Use Spa Clarifier to improve filter effectiveness.

Pro Tips:

  • Install a secondary in-line spa filter, to improve filtration.
  • Use a Pre-Filter to clean hot tub fill water (excuse my French!).
  • Use a floating foam blanket and a good spa cover to reduce evaporation.
  • Use a Rain Barrel to capture hot tub water (I know, what Rain?).
  • Limit hot tub use, if needed, to reduce solids build-up.

Eventually, you will need to change the water, but if a spa is maintained very well and not overloaded to capacity with users, it is possible to extend the time between water changes for a year, or even longer in some cases.

To protect your hot tub health however, you must always maintain the water balance and sanitation, and over-filter the water by running the filter pump for a sufficient amount of time each day. Periodic shock treatment is also necessary, in addition to keeping a constant bromine residual in the water.

A solid spa cover in good condition is important, to prevent water loss from evaporation. Drag off and splash out can also be controlled, and be sure to fix leaks in the plumbing or around the spa equipment.

The Future of Hot Tub Water

water_faucet_drop_400_wht_11410Some water watchers warn that we are only at the forefront of the current crisis in America and that rationing and cut-backs are sure to continue and escalate in many areas. If your town is under a water use restriction, you probably know about it.

To find out if there are any spa or hot tub restrictions (and not just swimming pool water restrictions), you can do an online search for “City/Town/County water use restrictions”, or visit your local government website and search therein.

 

– Jack

 

 

Solar Hot Tub Heaters

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spa-solar-heatersSolar Hot Tubs are all the rage now for off the grid homes and campsites, or for anyone who wants to operate a spa or hot tub in an eco-friendly way.

Can a solar pool heater be used to heat a spa? You betcha! And it’s a simple Saturday project. Spa solar heaters can heat up a spa to over 100° with just 6 hours of sunshine – ready to use when you come home from work!

I have a friend with an inground pool and spa, and a solar pool heater – his spa is 104° in under 30 minutes – during sunny daylight hours, of course. And,…there’s not much heat in winter, but you can get 3 seasons with a hot tub solar heater!

Your hot tub cover will retain the heat from a solar heater until well into the evening, and if needed, you can use an alternate spa heater or hot tub heater for night hot tubbin’.

 

How to install a Solar Hot Tub Heater

1. Location of Solar Panels: The first thing to think of is where and how the solar panels are going to be mounted. If you have full sun, all day long, you could just lay them on the ground, but for most folks, mounting them on a roof or rack, at a 30-45° angle works best. A rack can be built of angle iron or lumber, topped with plywood or plastic and painted black. You can also hang them on a fence. Choose a spot that will get at least 6 hours of daily sun; a southern facing direction is best.

2. Buy a Solar Pool Panel: A single 4′ x 20′ solar panel, a total of 80 square feet, is a good size for most spas. There are also 4′ x 10′ panels, but they are priced higher per square foot of panel. 80 sq. ft. of solar panel will heat spas under 500 gallons to over 100° during the day, and be ready to go for the evening. If you want to heat the hot tub in under an hour like my friend with the pool/spa, you’ll need 4-5 of the 20′ solar panels.

solar-heater-all-rolled-up3. Installation of Hot Tub Solar Panels: Solar pool panels are polypropylene mats of small black tubes with a continuous backing, so they absorb more heat than black hose DIY solar spa heaters. Inside the box will be two 2’x20′ solar panels, end caps, pipe adapters, mounting kit and a 3-way diverter valve. Secure the panels to the location securely so they are protected from high winds, animals and tree branches. Attach the end caps, and run PVC pipe from the panels to the plumbing line of the spa.

4. Plumbing a Spa Solar Heater: This part is custom for every spa or hot tub, but essentially you connect the plumbing from solar panels to the spa. A 3-way diverter valve will allow for adjusting the flow rate, and for shutting off the solar panels completely. Other items needed for plumbing beside the pipe include some directional fittings (90’s or 45’s) and couplings to connect lengths of pipe. A check valve is needed just before the heated water comes back into the spa plumbing, to prevent water cycling.

Other Thoughts about Solar Hot Tub Heaters

  • A solar controller can be used with an automatic valve turner and temperature sensors to have thermostat control for the solar spa heater, but more importantly, to shut off the unit when conditions are not right for solar, at night or when it’s raining, for instance. This is an extra $325, but is recommended for optimum heating, neither under or overheating the spa.
  • Speaking of overheating, it is possible to overheat the water with a solar spa heater. If you have an electric spa heater, the hi-limit may trip and shut off the spa pump, but at that point the water may already be dangerously hot. Use caution not to heat the water over 104°.
  • As mentioned before, hot tub solar heaters don’t work at night, or when it’s raining or heavily overcast. They drop way off in effectiveness during the winter months, unless you are in the very deep southern U.S..
  • A booster pump is not usually needed for installation on a roof, unless the roof is very tall. If a booster pump is needed these small spa circulation pumps are perfect for the job.
  • For best results, use an insulated spa cover to retain the heat and a solar controller to optimize when the solar panels are used, and to maintain safe water temperatures.

 

sunheater-solar-pool-heater

Hot tub solar heaters work very well in all parts of the U.S. – anywhere that has at least 6 hours of unobstructed sun. For many hot tubs, solar heat is used as a supplemental heater to keep the spa hot during the day, and at night or during rainy periods, the other spa heater takes over.

I wish I could say that we sold solar spa heaters at Hot Tub Works, but we don’t. However, here are some links for solar pool heaters and controllers at Specialty Pool Products, who had the best price on solar pool panels that I could find online.

 

Happy HOT Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Hot Tubs & Spas: Cutting Energy Costs

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green-spa-2There are an estimated 3.5 million spas and hot tubs in the United States, about half a million in California alone! Each spa can use around 2500 kWh of energy per year – that’s almost 9 Billion Kilowatt hours!

This has caused various state and federal energy agencies to look closely at the way spas and hot tubs are designed, and how this affects their energy consumption. Several studies have been done in the last ten years, and they give us a good idea of where manufacturers and citizens can save energy around a spa or hot tub.

From a study commissioned by PG&E, for instance, we know that there are measures that can improve spa efficiency by up to 40% for spas of average to low efficiency. States with scarce power supplies (like California), are very interested in reducing demand on the grid.

The study aforementioned was responsible, in 2006 for the insertion of spas and hot tub standards being inserted into Title 20, California’s energy saving initiative. This set efficiency standards for new spas and hot tubs, similar to the cafe standards, which mandate minimum mpg for automobile manufacturers.

The standards have been revised and tweaked, and as a result of more research we now know more about how spas and hot tubs use energy. Here’s what we’ve learned:

 

Top 5 ways to Reduce Hot Tub Energy Costs

1a LIGHTS: Starting the list are our spa light or lights. Using LED lights, with a consumption around 3 watts, beats out halogen or other bulbs as the way to go. Most new spas are entirely LED, with some exception. Older spas can retrofit to use LED bulbs, in some cases without changing the light housing, or replace with a spa light kit. If your spa light does not have an auto shut off, install an indicator light in the circuit that you can see from the house, to keep off when not being used.

Possible Energy Savings: 5-10%

 

2aCONTROLS: Smarter control systems are now possible, with pumps that have a dozen programmable speeds, and timer clocks that allow you to optimize energy usage with multiple run times, programmed for your usage patterns, and taking advantage of cheaper off peak energy. Most spas are programmable, even if they have a mechanical time clock – but many people fail to optimize it.

It takes a lot of energy to start the pump motor and heater, extra amps aid in the starting-up, so although many daily on-off cycles are good, too many can be too much. For your spa, Experiment by reducing the hours, to find a sweet spot where the water quality or temperature won’t suffer, and you can cut energy costs. You don’t need to run it 24 hours a day!

Run the pump(s) less during the day, to avoid peak usage hours. My spa pump mostly runs on low speed, but it takes a long break in the morning and then another mid-afternoon siesta.

If you have two pumps, you have one smaller circulation pump, and a larger jet pump. Experimenting with run times on these can also result in savings.

Possible Energy Savings:  10-20%

 

3aPUMP: Running your pumps less helps yes, but for those spas out there with the 20 year old pumps, or the single speed pumps, or the pumps that suddenly disabled their low speed, or the failed circulation pump that was never replaced. I’m talking to you!

Replacing with the most current spa pumps will give you a boost in economy with a more energy efficient motors used nowadays. Side discharge pumps also have a boost in efficiency over center discharge.

Possible Energy Savings: 10-20%

 

4aCOVER: Your spa cover can either be saving you money, or costing you money. If you can see steam creeping out of the edges of it, or if your cover has taken on water, it’s not holding the heat in like it should.

The heat retention in a spa cover has to do with 3 things, the density of the foam, the thickness of the foam and the foam core wrap or seal. Although we offer a 1.5lb spa cover, a 2.0 foam density is best for holding heat in, with a taper of 3 to 5 inches at least. And when you order your next replacement spa cover, go for the options of the double wrapped foam core and the continuous heat seal – worthy add-ons that will save heat and protect your core from moisture.

Possible Energy Savings: 15-20%

 

5aINSULATION: And now, drum roll please – the most significant thing you can do to increase your spa or hot tub energy efficiency is to make sure your tub is well insulated underneath and around the sides. There are many portable spas that have virtually no underside foaming, and have a thin sheet of padding on the inside of the  cabinet walls. Hot tubs, true wooden tubs don’t normally have any insulation around the outside and can be extremely inefficient, which is why most are heated on demand, and not kept hot.

You can increase your spa’s efficiency by stuffing bats of fiberglass insulation everywhere you can under the spa, with the exception of the air space around the spa equipment. You can also use spray foam to fill in gaps, and eliminate air spaces and gaps – but it would be easier to use removable insulation, especially for future access to pipes or jets around the spa.

Possible Energy Savings: 25-30%

 

Other things you can do to prevent heat loss include:

  1. Build wind blocks around outdoor spas
  2. Use a floating spa cover in addition to your regular spa cover
  3. Avoid using the air blower, which cools the water
  4. Turn down the heat if you won’t be using the spa for a week or more
  5. Replace the cover promptly after using the spa

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’!

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Hot Tubs & Spas TCO – Total Cost of Ownership

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total-cost-of-spa-or-hot-tub-ownership

 

I hear the question all the time – “What’s it cost to own a hot tub?” The real cost of operating a spa includes a lot more than just chemicals.

In this post, we break down all of the costs in owning a hot tub, and add them all up.

What can you do with this information? Well, if you are thinking of buying a spa, or purchasing a home with a spa, you may want to know the cost of this backyard appliance.

If you already own a spa, I’ve included several cost savings tips, or ways to reduce your hot tub expenses.

 

Electricity

The largest energy user is the spa pump. Two-speed pumps are designed to run on low all the time, except for a few hours per day on high during off-peak hours. You can experiment with run times, and short periods of off times, to reduce operation costs, but be sure to filter the water every day for at least 12 hours on low speed, and 30 minutes on high speed. Maintaining good water balance and sanitation levels can reduce your filtration demand.

Your spa heater is  also electrical, and depending on it’s size, it can draw as much amperage as the spa pump. Reducing the temperature in a spa can save money, but not much unless you keep it below 95°. A good spa cover, floating spa blanket and good levels of insulation around the spa or inside the cabinet are ways to improve heat retention, and lower  consumption.

Spa blowers also consume energy, and your spa pack circuitry uses a small amount.

How much electricity will the average spa consume? Depending on a host of variables, most spas use around 2000 kWh of juice every year. The national average for electrical cost is currently 12 cents per kWh, Annual Electricity Costs – $240

Spa Chemicals

Most spas need very few chemicals to maintain water quality. You’ll need pH control, and some form of spa shock or oxidizer. If your water is soft, you may need to raise the calcium hardness level, and if your water is very hard or has high mineral content, you can use a stain & scale control chemical. Enzymes are a good chemical for spas that are used almost daily, by many people.

Many spas use an ozonator or mineral sanitizer. These are excellent purifiers and reduce the amount of bromine needed to keep the water sanitary. Mineral sticks last for 6 months, and ozonators usually need a ‘recharge’ in 18 months.

Bromine tablets are a usual expense, and a bottle of bromide booster to use after draining the spa. This builds a residual of bromide ions, which continuously convert to bromine with the addition of tablets.

Let’s say you have a bromine spa, and you test it, balance and shock it twice weekly, and you use either a mineral stick or an ozonator as a secondary purifier. This is what I do, and for me, my Annual Chemical Costs – $150

Hot Tub Tools

I’m speaking about spa cleaning tools mainly – skim net, vacuum, hose nozzle or a pre-filter if your fill water is hard or mineral rich. These tend to last for several years, so the amortized expense may be close to Annual Tools Cost – $10

Spa Accessories

These are items that also last a long time, such as spa steps or spa furniture, which is usually a one time expense. Recurring expenses could include a thermometer or a bromine tablet floater, or waterproof playing cards. Annual Accessories Cost – $10

Hot Tub Parts

Spas don’t normally need spa repair every year, and then you have a year that requires several hundred dollars in spa parts. At some point in the life of a hot tub, repairs are inevitable, I suppose. You may get lucky, but I would plan on Annual Parts Cost – $40

Spa Cover

Spa covers that are well built and well maintained are likely to last 5 years on average. Spa cover prices vary, but let’s say you spend $400 every 5 years for a new cover. Averaged out per annum, we have the Annual Spa Cover Cost – $80

Spa Filters

The spa cartridge filter won’t last forever. Each time they are cleaned they lose a little bit of their filtering ability. Replace your spa cartridge every 12-24 months, or after 12-15 cleanings. The cost of replacement spa filters is low in most cases. At $20 a pop, every 18 months, the Annual Spa Filter Cost – $12

Fill Water

The cost of city water varies dramatically around the country, but if your average monthly water bill is $50, and you drain your spa every 3 months, your spa is only using 1-2% of your total household use. Annual Fill Water Cost – $8

 

Let’s Add it all Up!

CALCULATE-YOUR-POOL-HEATING-COSTS

Electricity 240
Chemicals 150
Tools 10
Accessories 10
Parts 40
Cover 80
Filters 12
Water  8
         Total    $550

Of course, your mileage may vary, depending on the variables such as the size of your spa, climate, how much it’s used, how hot you keep it, how well insulated your spa is … your total cost of ownership for a spa or hot tub could vary either way by $100 or more.

 

– Jack