If you’re thinking of buying a hot tub, there a few things you should consider before shelling out the money. Since this is a fairly large investment (with average prices running above $5,000 these days), not only initially but in continuing maintenance and increased energy bills, you want to make an educated decision.
I’ve compiled a couple tips to get you thinking before you go out and make a purchase.
1. Make sure you have room for a hot tub and decide where you will place it.
Before you even start looking at makes and models, you need to take a look at the area where you’re going to place the spa. If it’s indoors, is the room equipped to handle the heat and humidity that will be byproducts? If the hot tub will go outdoors, will it be on a patio or on a deck?
Concrete patios are good at holding the weight of a hot tub, but wood decks usually need to be reinforced. Consider not only the weight of the hot tub itself but the substantial (and heavy) water it will contain. Filled spas take hundreds of gallons of water which equates to thousands of pounds. Make sure your deck can handle this extra burden year in and year out before installing a hot tub.
2. Crunch the numbers.
When you’re buying a hot tub, it’s important to factor in all the costs involved. There is the initial cost, of course, which will run in the thousands of dollars. It’s true that hot tubs can be financed via bank loans or through the dealer, but there are other costs that cannot be financed.
Consider the ongoing expense of buying chemicals to balance the water so it doesn’t start growing bacteria. This can cost an extra $25 or more a month. An even bigger expense is the cost of electricity to heat the tub. Depending on where you live, this could add $50-$100 to your energy bill each month. If you’re going to fill the hot tub and use it year around (which many people like to do–hot-tubbing in the snow is fun!), you could be looking at an extra $1,000 a year in expenses that go beyond the initial purchase.
3. Go out and shop around.
Ok, we’ve talked about the dreary stuff. Let’s talk about actually selecting a hot tub!
You may be tempted to order a model from an online store or even eBay (and truth be told, you can get some good deals that way). But you always, always want to try out the model you’re considering before buying. Even if you plan to buy online, go to the local dealer and try hot tubs out first (you can always take a brochure for the model you like and look for a better price later).
Trying out a hot tub before you buy is important. Because this is a big investment, you want to make sure you get a spa you really love. Buying the most well-known brand matters a lot less than buying a tub you’ll be comfortable in for years to come.
To try out some tubs, head to your local dealers. If you’re not too shy about being seen in a swimming suit in public, bring your suit and a towel along. Dealers usually have models on the floor that are filled with water, so you can really try them out. You should bring the whole family when you go, everyone who will be enjoying the hot tub on a regular basis (here’s one shopping trip where the kids will have fun).
Even if you don’t want to get into a swimming suit, at least climb into the dry floor models and try sitting in the different seats. Are they comfortable? Are they a good fit for your body size?
Finally, make sure you only get a hot tub as big as you need. If you’re a party animal and are planning to have eight people in there at a time (and you can afford the expense of maintaining a bigger tub), then by all means, go large. However, if you have a small family and will only occasionally be having people over to hot tub, get a smaller model. It takes a lot of energy to heat those bigger ones, which means a bigger monthly bill for you down the road. Hold down on extra costs by only getting what you need. Today, you can even get two person models that are like oversized bathtubs (but you can’t sit in your bathtub and look at the stars!).
Hopefully, this article will help you when you are out shopping for your hot tub. Get one you love and have a good time for years to come!