CAN I USE MY HOT TUB IN THE WINTER? SHOULD I DRAIN MY HOT TUB DOWN IN THE WINTER?
We’re often asked if you should drain your hot tub down in the winter or if people really do use hot tubs on cold evenings. The answer to the first question is most definitely not and to the second is a big fat YES! Yes, you really can use a hot tub all year round if you wish to and some would argue winter is the best time to use a hot tub! We would never choose to drain ours down.
Although most customers purchase their hot tub during Spring and Summer, they almost without fail come back a year or two later to say that it’s during the winter they get the most use out of their hot tubs. We even go as far to say that a hot tub is far more beneficial in the winter than in the summer.
So why exactly is that and is there anything specific to plan for to make sure your hot tub is able to be used all year round?
WHY USE A HOT TUB IN THE WINTER?
We’ll start by saying that unless you own an inflatable spa, there’s absolutely no reason to close down your spa in the name of protection. In fact well-built hot tubs are designed to be used all year round - just look at Canada, North America and Scandinavian countries! All have far more severe winters than ours yet have integrated hot tubs into their way of life over many decades.
In fact you can do more harm than good by closing down your hot tub improperly. Pumps are designed to run without interruption and don’t enjoy restarting again after a long period of disuse. Plus even the tiniest bit of residual water left in your spa is very likely to freeze - which can cause cracking and potentially leaks within your pipework.
We can and do offer a full winterising service for your hot tub if you’re planning on going away for months but in the majority of cases, we still recommend you keep your spa running for so many reasons.
As a country we tend to take great pride in our outdoor space in the Summer and rush out to set up BBQs at the first sign of good weather. We love our gardens but isn’t it a shame that the rest of the year they sit as a disused but valuable space? Owning a hot tub that you actually plan on using year round is one of the best investments you can make to enjoy your garden all year round.
Just picture toasting the New Year from your hot tub or unwinding after a stressful day stuck at the office! Imagine actually persuading your children to down screens and spend time outdoors as a family! Lets face it - you’re very unlikely to sit out on your patio in the middle of December but if you could stay toasty warm whilst you enjoy your garden and quality time in the rest air as a family then it’s a very different proposition.
WHAT ARE THE HOT TUB HEALTH BENEFITS IN WINTER?
Hot Tubs are essentially hydrotherapy pools. Hydrotherapy is defined by three key elements; Heat, Buoyancy and massage.
Aside from making good use of your outdoor space, there are a number of health benefits associated with regular hot tub use and many chronic conditions actual worsen during the winter including arthritis, joint pain and inflammation, fibromyalgia and other conditions that cause stiffness or chronic pain. When we’re cold or if we’re suffering from poor circulation, blood flow is diverted to your vital organs away from the rest of your body out of necessity which is disastrous for those already suffering with aching joints.
The opposite happens when you’re fully submerged in warm water as blood vessels dilate and circulation improves, sending those all important healing red blood cells around the body. You also have the year round benefit of being ‘weightless’, relieving pressure on aching joints.
We all suffer from winter coughs and colds and this year we have more reason than ever to be wary of bugs and viruses. Using a hot tub to raise body temperature can stimulate your body’s natural production of incredible white blood cells and so to can the simple act of being outdoors and breathing in healing fresh air. Combine the two by having a hot tub outdoors and you’ve helped strengthen your immune system and improve your body’s ability to fight off bugs and viruses.
If you’re still unlucky and are struck down by a seasonal cold then steam from warm water is a powerful natural decongestant. You can even add specially designed hot tub fragrances to your water such as those with eucalyptus to further help clear the cobwebs and open lungs.
No-one enjoys short winter days filled with bad weather or the isolation we’ve faced over the last year. Poor mental health which affects one in four UK adults is exacerbated in the winter months as we spend more time hidden away indoors, reducing our exposure to daylight, nature and vitamin D.
Now we’re not suggesting that a hot tub replace additional support or medication for conditions such as anxiety and depression but what we can confidently say is that fresh air, spending time outdoors and in nature has been shown to significantly reduce cortisol levels (your stress hormone) and boost endorphin and dopamine levels. Using your hot tub on a regular basis is a very easy way of ensuring you get a good amount of time outside and can better unwind from the pressures of the day. You will also benefit from a deeper more restful sleep which is good for mind, body and spirit.
So just when you’re thinking of draining down your spa is the time your body needs its healing benefits the most! Customers certainly notice a difference if they don’t use their hot tub for a few weeks or even days at a time.
WHAT SHOULD I THINK ABOUT BEFORE BUYING A HOT TUB FOR WINTER USE?
So now we know WHY we should be using our hot tubs all year round. But is there anything special you need to plan for before you purchase your spa? We’re narrowed it down to three main considerations before you invest which are insulation, location and possibly an additional cover or gazebo.
Insulation and a good standard of build quality has the biggest bearing on overall hot tub running costs which are inevitably slightly higher during the winter months. Hot tubs with good quality insulation may cost between £25 - £50 a month in electricity.
On the flip side hot tubs with poor insulation, flimsy covers and shell construction may cost upwards of £120!! This is a massive difference and a big reason why some people might be forced to drain their spas down in colder months. Often such spas are marketed at rock bottom prices between £3000 - £5000 which might seem appealing, but could prove to be a false economy.
So invest wisely and do your research before purchasing a spa especially if you wish to use it year round. You can always check out our blog on running costs for more information.
The location of your hot tub is key to using and enjoying your hot tub regularly in the winter. We find that the closer your spa is to your home, the more frequently you’ll find yourself using it. If you think about it, no-one wants to make the mad dash from the bottom of the garden to the house in the pouring rain. If you however position your spa close to a patio door then that short walk suddenly feels much more bearable!
If you do chose to make use of a disused space at the far end of your garden then it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy using your hot tub. Why not look at having a heated changing area in a small summer house? This is also ideal for storing chemicals or drinks supplies! Or alternatively make sure you invest in a towel rail for fluffy bathrobes and keep cosy slippers on hand for the walk back to the house.
Investing in an additional structure or cover for your spa is a personal choice. It is perfectly fine to use your hot tub in the rain or even light snow and a hot tub cover that comes with a good quality spa is perfectly sufficient to protect your hot tub. Leaving your spa uncovered so you can stargaze on a cold, clear winters night is absolutely magical and this is what most customers do. After all you’re already wet!
That being said if you feel that you wouldn’t use your hot tub if it were to rain then there is no reason why you can’t explore both permanent and impermanent options such as wooden gazebos or even a custom-built building. This does protect you from the worst of the weather and creates a cosy environment that you could decorate with additional lighting and plants. Just remember any permanent structure needs to be tall enough to allow your hot tub lid to flip up and over fully. We work alongside a number of suppliers who can provide you with suitable options and there are many garden buildings which are available to view at our flagship Leicester showroom.
Another option is a Covana Automated Hot Tub cover which completely replaces a traditional vinyl or fabric hot tub cover. Made in Canada, a Covana cover is designed to handle the harshest of winters! They are twice as insulating as a standard hot tub cover, last the lifetime of your spa and are sealed to fit your spa perfectly, saving you money on running costs. Covana covers also rise and fall with just a turn of the key - so no struggling under hefty covers on a cold night.
You may also put up a light framed fabric or plastic gazebo if you don’t want a permanent cover. We would however advise that you take these down in stormy or windy weather. The same goes for Spa Umbrellas.
Consider the flooring used for your hot tub base. Wood decking can be treacherous at the best of times and lethal on a dark wet evening. Go for a durable composite such as Millboard Decking for your hot tub surround or use simple patio slabs/concrete and invest in outdoor lighting to help you stay sure footed in icy weather.
DO I NEED TO DO ANYTHING DIFFERENT TO MAINTAIN MY HOT TUB IN THE WINTER?
Chemical wise there are no changes to your regular routine. Test your hot tub daily as always, make any adjustments as indicated by your test strips and apply your weekly treatments. If you have a tendency to leave your hot tub cover open in the summer then you might even notice reduced chlorine consumption over the winter as chlorine is UV sensitive. On the other hand if you find yourself a real convert to the hot tub winter lifestyle then consumption might increase! Both scenarios are completely normal.
Regardless of season, hot tubs should be drained down AT LEAST every 3 months and possibly sooner if you use your spa very frequently or if it has a smaller body of water and/or filtration system. So you may wish to time your water changes to give your spa a good deep clean before the colder weather sets in. Or if you don’t fancy doing this yourself in the middle of December then we offer both regular and one-off maintenance plans and services.
Temperature-wise you might consider changing your usual setting. Most adults are comfortable running their hot tub anywhere between 37°C and 38.5°C unless advised otherwise by a doctor. The same as you might turn down your temperature on a hot summers day, you could increase your temperature to 39°C or even 40°C on the coldest nights! Just be mindful to stay well hydrated as you can still overheat or feel faint even if the air temperature is cool.
Don’t be tempted to try and run your spa on eco-mode and to turn up the temperature just before use. Not only is this inefficient for your overall running costs but your heater will struggle to get you up to the right temperature quickly whilst the air temperature is cooler. Whatever temperature you wish to bathe at, keep your hot tub set at that temperature.
In a well-insulated spa, the majority of your heat is lost when your hot tub is in use. So whilst it’s fine to leave the cover off on a warm summers day, always replace your hot tub cover once you’ve finished in the winter. This prevents any further heat loss from the surface of the water and reduces your running costs.
During stormy weather you should make sure your cover is clipped in both front AND back to prevent it from blowing off in high winds. Just remember if you have a cover lifter attached to unclip at the back before opening your lid the next day - otherwise you might have broken cover clips on your hands!
In short there are countless reasons and health benefits to keeping your spa running all year round and ESPECIALLY during the winter months. A hot tub is more than just a summer garden party accessory, it’s a year round investment in your health and wellbeing. There’s also plenty you can do before you purchase a spa to make sure it’s fit for purpose and will offer maximum enjoyment throughout the year.
If you’d like to join the MySpa family then contact your closest showroom for more information and to help you narrow down to your dream hot tub.
MySpa Leicester: 01164 645 870
MySpa Cheshire: 01625 919 150
If you’re already a customer and we haven’t managed to convince you to keep that spa running then not to worry! We offer a full professional winterising service to protect the internal workings of your hot tub. Please contact the servicing team on 01164 645 870 or on firstname.lastname@example.org.