Hot tubs are just like pools, but smaller and a few degrees warmer, right? Well, not exactly. If you’re considering having a hot tub installed, you should know a little bit about how they work. Whether you call it a Jacuzzi, spa, or hot tub, a major difference between this relaxing addition to your home’s outdoor space is insulation. If you think about it, insulation is the only economical way 400 gallons (give or take) can remain hot, no matter what temperature the air may be.
Hot Tub Energy Efficiency
As you may have guessed, insulation is the factor that really provides the major difference between various levels of quality (and price points) of hot tubs. Essentially, effective insulation will make a difference in how hard your hot tub has to work to heat the water and retain the temperature. While the up-front cost will be higher, if your hot tub insulation keeps the water hot, you’ll spend less over the long haul due to lower utilities.
By contrast, a thinly or poorly insulated hot tub allows the water’s heat to escape. As a result, the heater will need to work harder to get to or remain at the temperature you’ve set. Not only will regular operation cost you more, but components will need to be replaced sooner, due to the harder work load they carry. As far as convenience and comfort goes, there’s a higher price to pay there, too: You’ll have to wait longer for your hot tub to heat up to the desired temperature.
Hot Tub Insulation Science
Top-quality hot tubs actually use the same kind of insulation that industrial freezers use. Especially if you live someplace where winter temperatures dive below freezing, you will want to buy a hot tub with this kind of insulation. But really, no matter where you live, your costs to operate your hot tub will be less if you have one with this kind of insulation.
The basic principle that heat rises — combined with the tendency of hot water to evaporate — makes a hot tub cover the most significant aspect of your hot tub’s insulation. The best cover choice is one designed to fit your hot tub model and filled with high-density foam. Proper care of the cover will keep it from becoming water logged and will not allow it to be used for any other purpose, including as a table. By treating your hot tub cover with cover protectant, you can also reduce the effects of UV rays, extending its lifetime. A quality hot tub cover will have a center higher than the edges, allowing precipitation to run off easily. The skirt of the cover should fully cover its shell.
As important as a proper cover is, a well-insulated hot tub will also include insulated cabinet walls. Made of polyurethane foam, hot tub insulation may be sprayed in or be rigid; either way, though, its density will determine the level of insulation that it offers.
In our next post, we’ll compare the various types of insulation available.
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