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Inflatable Hot Tub Hacks

Inflatable Hot Tub Hacks

These inflatable hot tub hacks are tips that I have collected through using an inflatable hot tub at home.

The idea is that we can enjoy at home the inflatable hot tub without hassles and without too many expenses. I update this list every year with new tips and new things that happened to us at home.

inflatable hot tub hacks
Detaching the valve in our Coleman. A few inflatable hot tub hacks allow us to save a lot of money per year just in buying chemicals.

Let’s be frank here. Owning an inflatable hot tub costs money. After all, you have to fill it with water. It uses electricity to heat the water and to create the massage system. Also, you need to buy chemicals to keep the water sanitized and safe for your hot tub users.

What this means, is that your heating and water bills are definitely going to rise. So what you need are ways of keeping these costs to a minimum. Because if you don’t, then owning your hot tub can end up costing you a lot more than you bargained for.

By following our money saving tips, though, you’ll enjoy your hot tub without it costing you a small fortune.

Keep Your Motor Running

if you use your inflatable hot tub regularly – let’s say three times a week or more – it’s much better to leave the heater on all the time. That’s because if you turn it off, the water temperature is going to drop quickly and drastically over the following 24 hours or so, until you use your hot tub again. You will then have to heat this cold water back up to your target temperature. It’s basically like starting out all over; and that’s going to take time, energy, and money.

Therefore, keeping the water hot actually works out to be more economical.

We suggest that when you finish in your hot tub for the day, you set the heater’s digital control to around 96F. That will keep the water at a nice-and-hot temperature. Then, about an hour or so before you’re going to use your spa, set the heater to your preferred target temperature. By the time you’re ready to get in, the water will be piping hot.

The jets use what is known as a Venturi effect to create bubbles. By narrowing the diameter of the pipe at the jet, the pressure increases, and this, in turn, raises the temperature of the water coming out.

Running the jets also moves the water around in the tub, getting into all the corners where cold water can sit, bringing the overall temperature down.

Most jets time out every 15 minutes or so, so just turn them back on as needed.

Rotate Filters With Backups When Cleaning

Having two filters on hand, one in the spa and a clean, dry spare means you’ll never have to wait to use your spa because of a dirty filter.

Keeping a clean, dry spare filter on hand means you don’t have to wait to use the tub when it’s time to clean filters

Remove the dirty filter and rinse thoroughly, being careful to spray between the pleats. Soak the filter in a 5-gallon bucket of cleaning solution overnight or according to the instructions on the package. You can now install your clean spare while the dirty one is soaking. After soaking, rinse again and set aside to dry completely. With this method, your filters will last much longer.

Keep It Covered

Heat rises. Always keep that in mind, and you’ll see why it’s vital that you put the cover on as soon as you finish with the hot tub and take it off just before you get in.

Even if you’re only popping into the house for a sandwich or a bathroom break, it’s best to slip the cover on.

All quality inflatable hot tubs come with an insulated cover that does a great job of keeping the heat in. But it’s important that you use the cover and that you keep an eye on it for wear and tear.

Make sure you put the cover on correctly, and check that it’s fastened down securely so that it provides an airtight seal over the hot tub.

Also, check the cover for any damage or signs of aging. This is important if you have stored your hot tub away over the Winter. If you notice any holes or cracks, then use a vinyl repair kit straight away to repair the damage.  If you don’t, it’s going to cost you money in increased heating bills.

You’ll be surprised at how much heat is lost in a 24 hour period through just a tiny hole or crack in the cover, or out through a poorly-secured cover. So – we can’t stress this enough – check your cover for any damage and repair it at once. If you don’t, the damage will gradually worsen until it’s too serious to repair, and you’ll end up having to buy a replacement cover down the line.

We have a popular article on caring for your inflatable hot tub cover, full of advice and easy-to-do tips, which you can read by clicking here (opens in a new tab): How To Care For Your Inflatable Hot Tub Cover.

If you leave the cover off while your hot tub water is heating up, you will lose a lot of heat through evaporation. Even indoors, the temperature of the water in your tub will be much higher than the ambient air temperature, so you’re always going to get transfer of heat to the lower air temperature.

This principle applies no matter what type of cover you have or how well insulated it is. Heat is lost through evaporation, so stop that, and your hot tub will heat up quicker.

Use a thermal blanket

All hot tubs lose heat to evaporation.

And when you’re heating yours back up after changing the water, every degree counts! So trap the heat in the water as the heater goes to work by floating one of these on the surface of the water.

A thermal blanket used in addition to a well-fitted and insulated lid will keep more heat in and let less heat out. These are inexpensive and can be cut to size with scissors easily if need be.

CLICK HERE to see my favorite one on Amazon.

Keep The Wind Off Your Hot Tub

Another key point to keep in mind is the wind chill factor. When you’re in your hot tub, every time the wind blows over your hot tub surface it cools and evaporates the water. As a result, you have to add water to top it up and use energy to reheat the water. Both of these cost money.

To avoid this cooling factor of the wind, be sure to have a windbreak around your inflatable hot tub. When choosing where to site your hot tub, think about putting it near a fence, a wall or a hedge if you can. If that’s not possible, then create a windbreak around the tub. This can be done with privacy panels, shrubs, or even tall plants in heavy pots. You can even buy a special inflatable hot tub ‘dome’ from sites such as Amazon.

Your aim is to reduce or even eliminate the effect of the wind on your hot tub. Adding a windbreak also has the added benefit of giving your hot tub a pleasant attractive look, and it gives you some privacy.

Wind can really chill the water, slowing down the heating process, so if you can shield your tub by using fencing or a wall on the prevailing wind side, you can knock a good 30 minutes off the time.

Shielding can also be achieved using plants. One of the best types of tree for this purpose is the willow, but if you’re looking for something a bit smaller, leylandii grown in containers make an excellent windbreak.

Avoid trees that shed leaves in the fall or blossom in the spring.

Insulate The Bottom Of Your Inflatable Hot Tub

As well as heat rising, it also transfers to any surface that is colder. So if your inflatable hot tub water is at the maximum temperature of 104F, and the ground underneath your hot tub is even a little cooler than that, the heat is going to transfer from the hot tub floor into the ground. So the water is going to cool rapidly.

And as we have already seen: heat loss costs money.

In order to avoid this, be sure to have some insulation under your tub. Your hot tub might come with an insulated ground mat. If that’s the case, then be sure you use it. If your hot tub doesn’t have a ground mat, then you can buy one from your hot tub manufacturer or from websites like Amazon. Alternatively, you can buy some insulated foam sheets and lay these out under your hot tub.

As an added money-saving bonus, using a ground mat or some insulation under your inflatable hot tub helps increase the lifespan of your spa, as it protects the underneath against damage caused by rough surfaces.

It’s especially important to insulate under your inflatable hot tub if you plan on using it in the Spring or Fall – or even throughout the Winter. If you do plan on using your hot tub all year-round, we have a guide on how to do this, which includes tips and ideas for insulating your spa. You can read the guide here: 4 Season Inflatable Hot Tubs.

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Luxury hot tubs are usually well insulated, but for most of us with mid-range hot tubs, there’s always room for improvement, up to a point.

The first thing to check is the cover.

The best covers in terms of insulation contain closed-cell foam with a density of 1.5 to 2 pounds per square inch (the higher the density, the better). The foam is usually tapered to allow rain to run off.

Typically, a 6” foam will taper down to 4”, so this is what you should aim for.

Using an insulated mat beneath the tub will prevent heat from escaping to the ground. About 25% of the heat can be lost this way, even more with an inflatable tub.

Adding insulation to the cabinet can help reduce heat loss and reduce noise too!

Polystyrene fixed to the walls of the cabinet is a good way to achieve this, but be careful not to block any ventilation slots.

Most heat is lost through the pipes, pump, and heater, so adding insulation here will help. Touch ‘n’ Foam from Amazon is a good spray foam for insulating pipes and hard-to-reach places.

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Keep your inflatable hot tub covered whenever it isn’t in use. Heat rises, and all of your warmth will escape quickly without a thick, insulated cover on top. Make sure that your cover is fastened down securely for an airtight seal. Even if you’re only leaving the tub for a short break, it’s a good idea to slip the cover back on top. Most inflatable hot tubs will come with an insulated cover.

Insulating the bottom of your inflatable hot tub is nearly as important as covering the top. If the surface beneath your hot tub is cold, heat will be sucked out of your water and transferred into the ground. To avoid this issue, add a ground mat for insulation under your tub. If your inflatable hot tub didn’t come with a ground mat, you can purchase one from a hot tub manufacturer or online.

Avoid Cloudy Water With A Hose Filter

A hack that will avoid problems with your tub is to use a hose filter when filling it.

While this doesn’t cause major problems with everyday tasks like cooking and laundry, it can prove to be a problem when it comes to your hot tub.

For instance, water containing trace metals can drastically change a tub’s water chemistry and stain its surfaces. With this in mind, it’s crucial to always use a hose filter when filling your tub as this will remove any contaminants from your hard water, which are otherwise likely to cause cloudy water.

Given that debris and algae can also make water ‘milky’, you definitely don’t want to be creating problems from the get-go.

It’s also essential to keep your hot tub covered whenever it’s not in use. It’s simple, but a hot tub left exposed to debris and sunlight is more likely to develop cloudy water. Dead leaves, grass, blossom, and pollen can fall into the tub, clogging up your spa’s circulation system and filter. As the debris breaks down, the water in the tub will become cloudy, and unfortunately, a potential health risk

Luckily, it’s fairly easy to get rid of debris by using regular hot tub cleaning chemicals, so make sure you always have some handy. Keeping your tub covered will also limit the growth of algae. These aquatic plants can form in a tub when chlorine levels are low, and sunlight will help them to grow.

Keep your hot tub under a gazebo

Positioning your hot tub under a gazebo or a similar structure will provide shade on those really hot days, and it will also help keep the heat in on a cooler day.

Gazebos come in all shapes and sizes. It can be a permanent wooden frame with a shingled roof or a metal framed pop-up. They are all effective at regulating the temperature and enabling the water to heat up quicker by reducing evaporation.

Want some good ideas on DIY gazebos and privacy structures? Check out my recent article where I go through all the best ways to do that on a budget.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Select The Placement 

Picking the right location for your hot tub may not seem like a big deal, but it can drastically reduce your running costs. Keeping your inflatable hot tub indoors is the ideal solution for using less electricity. Hot tubs that are placed indoors can maintain a suitable water temperature while using much less energy.

If you have to place your hot tub outside, pick an area that’s protected from the wind. The wind blowing over your tub will cause the water to rapidly cool and evaporate. Choose a site for your inflatable hot tub that’s sheltered by walls, plants, or fence.

When you don’t have plans to use your inflatable hot tub for a while, pack it up and put it away. Most portable hot tubs can be easily deflated and packed away. When your hot tub is deflated and properly stored, you won’t incur any running costs at all.

5. Do it on a hot day – or hottest time of day

Filling up your hot tub late morning will give you the afternoon – the hottest part of the day – to allow the water to get up to optimum temperature.

Air temperature is one of the main factors in determining how long it takes for the water in your tub to heat up. Timing the cleaning and water change cycle at the hottest times of the year will help you get the job done a lot quicker.

So, if you change the water every 3 months, make that April, July, and October. If you overwinter your tub, October should be the last time you empty your tub, and it can be left then until the following spring.

5. Fill Your Inflatable Hot Tub With Hot Water

An easy way to save money is to fill your inflatable hot tub with hot water from your household supply.

It’s usually cheaper to do this than to fill it with cold water and then heat it up to your target temperature. If you do follow this tip, then keep in mind these points:

  • cover the floor of the hot tub with a thin layer of cold water before adding the hot water
  • make sure the hot water isn’t hotter than 104F, as it could damage the liner
  • never add boiling water to top up the temperature

Also, think about how much water you really need in your hot tub. You’ll see there’s a minimum-fill line and a maximum-fill line marked on the inside wall. Consider filling your hot tub only up to the minimum line (but never less than this).

This is something we always recommend to our first-time buyers, so that you get used to how much the water rises when you get in and when you switch on the massage system.

Filling your spa to the minimum-fill line saves you water costs and reduces how much water you need to heat (or add, if you’re filling it from your hot water household supply). Again, this will save you money.

Using pre-heated water from the faucet to fill your tub is something often frowned upon, but it can be effective in getting the water up to the required temperature in half the time.

If you intend to use this technique, don’t just run a hose from your hot water heater. You don’t want water at 130⁰ running through your pipes!

But if you can attach a hose to a kitchen faucet and run warm-ish water through it to the hot tub, you’ll save hours in heating time.

6. Re-think Your Target Temperature

All inflatable hot tubs have a maximum temperature of 104F. In our experience, the majority of hot tub owners heat their water to this temperature. But, if you choose a slightly lower setting – say 102F – you’ll be surprised at just how much energy and money you can save.

By setting your thermostat at 102F, for example, you’ll be saving money on your start up and every time you need to reheat the water. So the savings over the course of the Summer or even the year, can be considerable.

For more on this topic, check out our guide Keeping A Lower Temperature Inflatable Hot Tub

If you can reduce the temperature on your tub by 5⁰, this will knock at least an hour off the time it takes to get to your desired temperature.

In the summertime, you might find that 100⁰ is too hot, and you feel more comfortable at 95⁰ or even less, depending on the air temperature at the time.

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Inflatable hot tubs can traditionally withstand a maximum temperature of 104°F. Instead of setting your target temperature to the highest possible level, try lowering it slightly. Not only will you save money and power by doing this, you likely won’t even notice the difference. Try setting the target temperature in your inflatable hot tub to 102°F next time instead. This is especially important if you plan on leaving your heater running at all times.

7. Keep It Clean

When you keep your inflatable hot tub clean, this in turn helps keep the water clean. This in turn means that you’ll need to use fewer chemicals to fix unnecessary problems that can arise from unclean water.

In our article How To Clean Your Inflatable Hot Tub, we walk you through everything you need to know about cleaning the outside and the inside of your hot tub, as well as how to maintain a clean lid.

As well as cutting down on the need to keep using expensive chemicals to shock or sanitize the water, keeping your inflatable hot tub clean also helps prolong the life of your hot tub, so that you don’t need to spend big money on replacing it.

If you get a build-up of biofilm or scale build-up in your pipes, this will reduce the flow of water and slow down the heating process.

Keep the water clean by regularly:

  • checking the pH and alkalinity levels  
  • adding sanitizer – chlorine or bromine
  • shocking your hot tub using chlorine or non-chlorine shock 
  • changing the water and thoroughly cleaning your hot tub every 3 months

This, together with cleaning the filters, will keep the water flowing freely and help heat the water faster.

Every time I change my water, I use 8oz of Oh Yuk! Healthy Hot Tub Cleaner from Amazon. It helps ensure there is no biofilm buildup. And when I refill, my new water is as clean as possible.

Clean The Filters

Filters serve to capture all the waste products from using a hot tub – the dead skin, body lotions, perfume, and hair. These build up to form a biofilm that clings to the inside of the pipework and pump.

A clogged or dirty filter will not be able to pull as much water through it and into the heater as a clean filter will.

You should remove and clean your filter at least every 3 weeks.

I recommend the Filter Flosser from Amazon, which connects to your garden hose and helps you get right into those folds. Check it out here on Amazon by clicking on the link.

Every 3 or 4 months, you will need to give your filter a deep clean by soaking it in a cleaning solution such as Spa Depot’s Power Soak from Amazon and water. This removes the waste products, and it also contains enzymes to eat up organic contaminants.

Remove Cover For 20 Minutes After Adding Chemicals.

The best way to maximize the longevity of your cover and spa pillows is to leave the cover off of the spa after adding chemicals. This allows for potentially corrosive gasses to be released, instead of attacking the softer vinyl and plastic components.

Here’s a quick tip to see how well you’re doing: open your cover and compare the colors on the bottom side. It’s time to re-evaluate your water maintenance regimen if the edge areas that sit against the tub shell are darker in color than the center of the cover.

Lubricate Top Valve O-Rings Yearly.

Here’s one even the pros miss. Ever notice that your diverter valves or air control valves get harder to turn over time? Carefully disassemble the valve internals and lubricate the O-Rings and moving surfaces of the valve, which will restore them to like-new condition.

Use a waterproof PTFE grease like Lube Tube, since it stands up to hot water, chlorine, bromine, and other hot tub chemicals without washing away.

7. Use a portable immersion heater

A portable heater that can be immersed in the water will help boost the heating process.

The Philex electric immersion heater on Amazon provides 1.5kW of power, and it is suitable for inflatable hot tubs too. Take a look at this on Amazon by clicking on the link.

At less than $30, a portable immersion heater is an economical way of improving the water heating time by up to 50% when used in conjunction with your built-in heater.

8. Use an in-line water heater

If you fill your hot tub through the garden hose, you might consider connecting it to an in-line water heater such as the American Standard Safe-T heater on Amazon – just click on the link for the latest price and availability.

This 1.5kW heater has a cut-out to prevent it from getting too hot to cause damage to your hot tub or equipment, and like the immersion heater, when combined with the built-in heater, it can halve the time it takes to get to 100⁰.

11. Leave the hot tub on all the time

When you turn off your hot tub, it will start to cool down fairly quickly, so when you next come to use it, you’ll have to wait while the water heats up enough. It’s always best to leave the heater running all the time, even if only in standby mode.

Don’t worry about electricity costs. The average cost of running a hot tub is around $1/day, maybe $1.20 for inflatables. However, the bulk of this cost is in raising the temperature to 100⁰ – keeping it there is relatively cheap.

Leaving your hot tub on also means that it is always ready for that impromptu moment when you just feel like a good soak.

When you think about saving money on electricity, it may seem counterintuitive to leave the heater running all day. However, if you’re a frequent hot tub user, this tip could seriously save you some cash. If you use your inflatable hot tub at least three times a week, leaving your heater on at all times will be the best option.

When you turn the heater off in your hot tub, the water temperature quickly drops over the next 24 hours. Since inflatables are typically lacking in insulation, this heat will escape quickly. Reheating the tub back up to the target temperature takes a significant amount of power, time, and money. For this reason, it may make more sense to keep your water consistently hot and ready to use.

14. Increase the size of your heater

Upgrading your heater from a 4kW to a 6kW will give you a 50% increase in power, reducing the amount of time it takes to get your water up to 100° by around 25%. So, if it took 8 hours with a 4kW heater, it would take 6 hours with a 6kW heater.

Many hot tubs can be upgraded except for inflatables and other plug-‘n’-play types. These are limited by the plug connection and usually come with a 1kW heater.

15. Change the type of heater 

You don’t have to rely on the built-in heater to raise the temperature of the water in your hot tub. This may seem radical, but there are a host of fuel sources available to help heat your water quicker and save money.

One I recently came across is by using a heat exchanger in conjunction with a conventional heater to raise the temperature by as much as 54⁰ per hour. You can find more information on the Bowman heat exchanger on their website.

Heating the water using natural gas can raise the temperature at a rate of 1⁰ per minute. Sounds good, but this is only a viable option if you have a gas supply to your home.

Using a wood burner or, better still, a rocket stove to heat your water is a great way to get you up to 100⁰ in just a couple of hours. The downside is you need to install flow and return pipes in your hot tub.

Check Ozonator/ UV Function Yearly.

Put this on your once-a-year checklist as well. Making sure your ozonator is working properly is key to using fewer chemicals in your hot tub. The easiest way to check ozone output is with an Ozone Test Kit. UV systems require only a simple bulb replacement yearly.

Close The Air Control Valves When The Tub Isn’t In Use.

Air control valves mix air with water at the jets, creating a more powerful jet stream. These valves allow cooler air into the water, increasing the time needed to heat the tub.

Quick tip: Mark the closed position on your valve. This allows for quick visual verification and eliminates guessing if the valve is actually off.

Some Air Control Valves are already marked, making position verification simple.

8. Buy A Bundle Of Chemicals

You are going to need to buy some chemicals when you buy your inflatable hot tub. These are to sanitize the water, to shock the water if it turns cloudy or even green!, to maintain the correct pH levels of the water, and so on.

One way to save money here is to buy a bundle of chemicals rather than just a single tub or bottle at a time.

On sites like Amazon, for example, a single bottle of chlorine sanitizer costs around $18. But if you buy a pack of 12, each bottle works out at under $12. So although there is a bigger initial outlay, you end up saving money over the course of a season.

Don’t worry if you have zero knowledge of using chemicals, or if this seems a scary part of owning a hot tub. We have an easy-to-understand and easy-to-read article which covers everything you need to know: Your Guide To Inflatable Hot Tub Chemicals.

9. Monitor Your Bills

It might seem a little pernickety, but it can be worthwhile to keep a close eye on your water and heating bills. This is especially true during the first months of owning your new inflatable hot tub.

Check you bills before you buy and install the hot tub. Then keep an eye on them over the following 3-6 months. You’re looking to see how much the hot tub is costing you, and whether you’re happy with this cost. If not, re-read through our list and make sure you are following all the tips above that can help save you money.

The other thing to keep an eye on, is if there are any spikes in your bills. If you notice a month where your bills increased noticeably, then think back to what was different in that month. Did you use the hot tub a lot more? Did you forget to put the lid on properly and it blew off? Did some children use the hot tub, with all the associated splashing and possible waste or water?

Whatever it was, think about what caused the increased bills and consider ways you can prevent a repeat down the line.

17. Ship your water pre-treated and pre-heated

This might not be an option for everyone, but many pool owners do this if their tap water isn’t suitable or they have to fill from a well.

The advantage of doing this is that the water is already balanced and sanitized, and the temperature will be no more than 100⁰F, so it won’t damage your tub or the electrics.

The downside is this will be expensive as most suppliers will only deliver minimum quantities of 2,000 gallons for a pool refill.

Conclusion

So there we have our top tips for saving money on your inflatable hot tub. Although it takes a little effort and time to follow these, we think they’re well worth doing as you can save some serious money on your water bills, your energy bills, and your chemical purchases. Thanks for reading!

Recommended Reading

Easy Inflatable Hot Tub Tips

Cheap Blow Up Hot Tubs

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How long does it take for a hot tub to warm up?

On average, it takes about 6-8 hours to heat your hot tub to around 100°F, which is the ideal temperature for most people. Some like it hotter, but the maximum is 104⁰ F, and the minimum for comfort is around 98⁰.

The temperature of the water from the hose is the biggest factor as it can range from 60-75⁰ F.

You can speed this up by using warm-hot water from the faucet of a nearby sink if you have a hose attachment on it.

But there are two things to consider before doing this. First, avoid filling directly from the hot water heater. The temperature of the water will be more than 130⁰ – way too hot for you to get in, and it could damage your plumbing, equipment, and the shell.

You can read more about this in a recent article here on my website by clicking on the link.

The other consideration is a chemical imbalance. If you live in a hard water area, chances are you have a water softener attached to your supply.

Softened water can lead to corrosion of the pipes and equipment, so you need to disconnect this if using water from the faucet. Or you can add some Leisure Time Calcium Booster from Amazon.

Should jets be on when heating a hot tub? 

As a rule, hot tubs heat up quicker with all the jets and water features on. So turn them on, keep the lid closed and every 15 minutes or so, lift the lid just long enough to restart the jets, as they typically time out after 15 minutes.

But there are exceptions to this.

If you have an inflatable or another type of plug ‘n’ play hot tub, you will most likely find that you can’t run the jets and the heater at the same time. This is because these spas run off a 110v supply, and that’s not enough to run the jets and heater together.

Most regular hot tubs are hard-wired through a disconnect box to the 240v supply to your home, which means you can leave your jets running while you’re heating the water.

The benefit of leaving the jets on is that by circulating the water, you prevent cold pockets from appearing in the corners of your tub. Also, the effect of forcing the water through the pipes and jet nozzles heats the water through friction.

How long does it take to heat up a hot tub outside?

Water in a typical hard-sided 220v hot tub typically heats between 4-6 degrees per hour. So if the hose water is 70° F and the set temperature is 100° F, the total heating time would be between 5 and 7.5 hours.

In a recent article, I went through the factors affecting the length of time it took to heat a hot tub. Just click on the link to read it here on my website, but here are the main factors:

  • The current temperature of the hose water (can range between 60°-75° F)
  • The weather conditions at the time (winter can make it take a lot longer)
  • The amount of water in your rub
  • The size of your heater

Depending on the above factors, it can take anything between 4 and 48 hours to get the water in your tub up to the optimum temperature of around 100⁰.

The smaller plug-n-play hot tubs can take four hours to heat up by just 5°, which is why many people regard these as summertime spas.

This is due mainly to the size of the heater, but they can be used all year round if the conditions are right.

Weather plays a major part in the time it takes to heat the water; Air temperature and wind chill in particular. Leaving the cover off on a windy day will cool the water down almost as quickly as the heater warms it up, and on cooler days, it will take longer.