It seems counter-intuitive, with air temperature at beer fridge levels, you head outside in your swim trunks or suit (modesty, please, everyone!) and get into a boiling cauldron of water nicknamed “The Hot Tub.” The hot tub isn’t really boiling of course, it’s steaming at over 100 degrees in the cold winter air. Winter is perfect weather for your hot tub, and you should take advantage and enjoy it.
Why? Because you didn’t get a hot tub to take up deck or patio space so you can point at the big spa cover and announce to your friends “Behold! This is my hot tub! Now let's go inside and sip hot cocoa and knit doilies in front of the fake fireplace”. No, you have a hot tub to use, to enjoy, to soak away your worries, stress and recurring day-time nightmares about overdue bills, dentist appointments, the skyrocketing price of coffee and, most importantly, the diminishing open spots for lake trout fishing. These are serious issues and thoughts, and the hot tub can help – it’s why you have it in the first place.
Now, before you say “I’m too busy” or “my life is perfect, I don’t need a few moments of peace and relaxation to myself”, or even something every parent will nod in agreement over “What about the kids? I can’t leave them alone for three minutes or they will repaint the kitchen cabinets yellow and flood the basement for their own Olympic swimming tryouts”, you should know that hot tubs can be used to fend off sickness.
For real, hot tubs can improve your health and strengthen your immune system during the winter hey-days of cold and flu season. When everyone is inside hacking, sneezing, moaning and complaining, a dip in the hot tub with a water temperature around 104 degrees can actually sweat out some of the toxins in your body that could make you sick. The warm, moist air rising up from the hot water (steam is your friend), can actually help alleviate some nasal and chest congestion as well, according to the folks at WedMD. And let’s not forget how soothing those jets and hot water will feel if you’re starting to feel those body aches.
And let’s be honest, less stress is better for your health and there is no better way in the dark, cold, joyless days of winter to relax and feel your stress melt away than soaking in your hot tub as the water jets and bubbles work out your body’s mental and physical stress while soothing away muscle and joint pains and overall fatigue much like a massage, just without the awkwardness.
All of this will help you to elevate your mood so you treat yourself and others better, help give you a positive outlook to the day, evening and tomorrow, and encourage better sleep which only piles on all of this goodness. It’s a no brainer, really! Your family wants you to enjoy the hot tub. Your friends, co-workers, the mail carrier, your pets and even your barista - all want you to be more relaxed and in a better mood.
There’s quite a few more reasons to enjoy your hot tub during the cold months, and yes, “because I can” is one of them, but you should also know that care and maintenance for a hot tub during the winter is slightly different than during the summer. Here’s a quick starter list:
Winter Hot Tub Maintenance
- Check water level regularly: A hot tub losing water is a hot tub with a leak. Leaks in the freezing cold can burst plumbing or allow water levels to drop low enough for your spa circulation pump to quit which will turn off your spa heater which will then cause your hot tub water to freeze. The laws of physics tell us frozen water expands, and that means mucho dinero to fix your frozen tub igloo. You can’t let that happen.
- Know your controls: Almost every spa these days has some sort of freeze protection or auto heat mode which ensures heating and circulation of your hot tub water which should reduce the chances of any freezing and ensuing damage. However, you still need to pay close attention to the main point in No. 1 above.
- Cover it tightly: This may seem obvious, but pay attention to the little things like areas around the edges of your spa cover where heat and steam can escape, wasting precious energy while making your spa heater continuously work harder to keep up, inviting overload and ultimate failure which could cause your hot tub to turn into a cold block of ice. Tighten down your cover clips, and you might also want to consider an insulating spa blanket that floats on the water surface of your tub, helping retain more heat while protecting your spa cover from moisture and chemical vapors.
Save Energy: If your spa or hot tub has some sort of timer, use it. For the winter months, the hot tub pros at PoolProducts.com recommend having your spa run 15 minutes out of every hour. You should also keep your thermostat up at or near your desired water temperature since, interestingly enough, keeping your thermostat higher for a constantly warmer water temperature uses less energy than heating up an ice-cold hot tub to your preferred warmth – especially with today’s more high-efficient tubs. Having your heat set close to your ideal temperature also makes it easier and faster to use your hut tub rather than having to wait to raise the water temperature 30 degrees or more.
Insulation can be usually be beefed up inside of a heater, if you don't have full foam insulation, but be careful not to reduce overall air flow or block vents. You can read up on other ways to conserve energy with your hot tub at EnergyIdeas.org.
Spa Water Balance: Another piece of great import is to maintain your hot tub over the winter like you do during the warmer months. Having the proper chemical levels, spa sanitizer and a clean filter is just as important on January 3 and it is on July 4. Even though the air is freezing cold and nothing grows, your hot tub water is warm and inviting to bacteria and other germs that can make you ill, not to mention algae which is just icky.
Keep your hot tub clean, change your spa filter, and be sure your bromine, ozone and mineral sanitizer levels are good. You want to avoid having to drain the spa in the dead of winter, so be sure to replace the water before heading into winter.
And let’s go back to your health. When you use your hot tub in the winter, be smart about it. Remember that most of your body heat is lost through your noggin, so consider wearing a hat and set a cool, new stylish trend.
Protect your feet from ice, the cold and rock salt by wearing sandals or slippers, and having a little traction on your deck or patio is a good idea since it won’t take long for water splash-out or another tubber’s wet footsteps to freeze solid at zero degrees. Why ruin a nice, relaxing soak in the hot tub with a slip, fall and trip to the ER?
Also, think about wearing a robe from the house door to the tub. Frostbite is no fun. Anywhere.
But hey man, it’s your hot tub, your rules. Just jump in, kick back, close your eyes and picture your own little paradise.
Your Hot Tub is hot for a reason! Enjoy it, hot tubs and spas are good for you. All year 'round.