Can You Use a Hot Tub in the Winter? (Yes! here’s how)

Hot tubs are great for every season and almost all types of weather. But a lot of people new to hot tubbing wonder can you use a hot tub in the winter?

Yes, you can absolutely use a hot tub in the winter. The warm water against bare skin feels refreshing when contrasted with the frigid cold of wintertime. With the power on, water levels normal, chemicals balanced, and equipment working properly there’s no danger of pipes freezing.

Do make sure to not soak longer than recommended times.

Many people don’t realize that winter is the perfect time to enjoy your hot tub. While there are some things you should be aware of, it is perfectly okay to use your hot tub during the winter.

But there’s a lot more to know about wintertime considerations for hot tubbing, including how much it might add to your electric bill.

So let’s keep going!

Is it bad to go in a hot tub in cold weather?

As a general rule, it is not bad to get in a hot tub when it’s cold outside. In fact, the warm water will feel particularly good in conjunction with cold winter ale, and it can be very soothing to tired and aching muscles and joints.

So, it is absolutely okay to use your hot tub in cold weather! In fact, it’s one of my favorite things to do!

It’s especially great because the warmth can help soothe your aching muscles and joints. There’s nothing as relaxing as a hot bubbling spa in the winter season.

However, in the wintertime, there is some additional care needed to keep safe in a hot tub.

If you live in a snowy area, always uncover your hot tub with caution. Make sure you have cleaned off any snow or ice off of the lid. That extra weight can damage the foam inserts inside the vinyl sleeve.

You should also have an exit plan in place for when you are done enjoying your soak.

Bring out a robe and slippers so you can stay warm and dry as soon as you exit your spa. Make sure your shoes or slippers have a good tread in case there is ice on the ground.

Lastly, make sure your hot tub’s water temperature is at a proper temperature.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, water should never exceed 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

High water temperature can lead you to suffer from heatstroke, or you could become drowsy and fall asleep and possibly drown.

I personally don’t like my hot tub at that high of a temp. During the year, I usually set mine to 98°. That way I can soak longer and it’s not too hot for my kids.

But I do find that in the wintertime I like to bump it up closer to 100°. That’s because 98 is the average temp of my body anyway, so it’s nice to get a little warmer water when it’s cold outside.

But due to cold weather, your exposed head and shoulders may confuse your sense of internal temperatures.

This means you may be hotter than you think and tempted to raise the temperature too high. So play it safe and keep the temperature of your hot tub at 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, keep your soak time to around fifteen minutes.

A final tip: wearing a winter hat may help your body regulate your internal temperature.

Not sure how long it’s safe to stay in a hot tub?

In a recent article, I explore how long you can safely stay at a variety of temperatures. But I also get into what can happen if you stay too long and what symptoms to look out for.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

What do you do with a hot tub in the winter?

Winter hot tub care and maintenance tips:

  1. Set the hot tub to between 100° and 104° – This will ensure the water temp will still be reasonably warm in the event of a power outage
  2. Keep the cover securely on the hot tub when not in use
  3. Use a long-handled bristle broom to remove any snow or ice build-up on the cover shortly after it occurs – the excess weight of ice and especially snow can damage the foam inserts inside the cover
  4. Continue to balance the water chemistry and clean the filters as normal
  5. Top off the water as needed – and ensure it never drops below the level of the jets
  6. In extremely cold climates and/or areas with frequent power outages, invest in a floating thermal blanket to help minimize heat loss

CLICK HERE to see my favorite thermal blanket on Amazon.

Winter is on the way and you are not certain what you should do with your hot tub. Should you close it like a pool? The answer is no!

You can absolutely close it if you wish, but a soak in a hot tub, while snow falls around you, is a beautiful experience. Your hot tub will take longer to heat up in the winter. This does mean an increase in energy bills.

But if you want to winterize it and don’t plan on using it, follow these steps:

1. Always properly drain the water before it gets too cold outside

The majority of hot tub damage that occurs during wintertime is caused by freezing damage due to improper draining or a lack of winterization of your hot tub. In the long run; this damage can cost more than simply running the water for wintertime.

2. Clear out excess water in the blower

Next, if your hot tub has an air blower, you must make sure this is drained as well. Shut off the heater and run the blower for thirty seconds. This will push all the water out of the air blower.

Then use a wet-dry vac to suck up any excess water on the floor of the hot tub or at each of the jets

3. Remove and dry your filters

Simple remove the filters and rinse them off.

If it’s time to replace them, then just toss them and order new ones and have them ready to go inside your house for when you crank it back up again.

Not sure how often to change or clean your filters?

You’re not alone! Luckily, I cover everything you need to know in a recent article.  Ultimately, you should change yours every 1-2 years. But there are a few key things that you must do to stretch it to 2 years.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

If you plan on running your hot tub during the winter months, here is what you should do.

First, before it gets too cold outside, completely change the water in your spa. You should also clean it thoroughly. This ensures your hot tub is in working order before winter.

Second, you should invest in a good cover. The largest amount of temperature loss occurs at the surface of the water. Make sure your cover is not ripped. Replace it if it is.

And as I mentioned above, a floating thermal blanket on top of the water is a great way of saving energy costs during the winter months.

I really like the thermal blanket from Spa Depot (click to see it on Amazon).

It is 8-feet square, but you can easily cut it to your size needs for a truly custom fit. It’s also got free Amazon shipping, a great price, and awesome reviews.

Also, periodically check the water level of your hot tub, especially if you haven’t used it in a few weeks. If the water level drops too low, your water pump and heater could shut down, resulting in damage to your hot tub.

To winterize or not to winterize?

And if you aren’t sure whether or not you need to winterize your hot tub, check out this recent article of mine where I break it down into 7 simple steps. Just click the link to read that on my site.

What temperature should I keep my hot tub in the winter?

As a general rule, it’s ideal to keep a hot tub slightly warmer than normal, between 102 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit during winter. This will help ensure the temperature won’t drop to a critical level in the event of a power outage.

The average range of temperature that people keep their hot tub at is between 98 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember though, you shouldn’t keep your hot tub above 104 degrees Fahrenheit because it can be dangerous.

And the higher the temp, the shorter the soak times need to be.

It is also not recommended to keep your hot tub below 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Generally, you should always keep your hot tub at the same, constant temperature. If you aren’t sure what temperature works for you, try soaking in different temperatures.

In the winter you definitely want the water temperature to be warmer than your body temperature (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Also, the smaller the distance in temperature between the water and the freezing temperature outside means in the case of an extended power outage your water could freeze.

Ensure you stay well hydrated while in your hot tub. Also, ensure your soak lasts between fifteen and thirty minutes. Any more than that and it is dangerous.

Not sure what temperature is best for you or how long it’s safe to soak at that temp?

In a recent article, I cover all the most popular temperatures and why you may or may not like them. But I also show you how long you can safely soak at each of them.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

How much does it cost to run a hot tub in the winter?

On average, a hot tub will cost about $30/month during winter which should be slightly higher than its costs in warmer months. However, extremely cold weather and/or poorly insulated hot tubs can see monthly costs for electricity closer to $50.

The electricity used is to heat your hot tub is an ongoing expense that is always associated with owning a hot tub.

But for most of us with hot tubs built in the last 15 years or so, it’s a minimal expense of well under $30/month. The cold of wintertime, however, makes these costs rise. This is because the cold air forces your heater to work more.

The cost of running a hot tub in the wintertime depends on a few factors.

To begin with, cheaper, low-end hot tubs are designed without the necessary features to keep out the cold without a large increase in money spent. Hot tubs that are quality built will be able to withstand the cold of winter without a large increase in cost.

One of the easiest ways to lose heat is through direct contact with the ground.

Base pans are included with all high-quality hot tubs and act as an extra thermal barrier. Hot tubs with base pans are more effective than hot tubs without, which means they are less expensive to run during the wintertime.

Also ensure you have a thick, durable, insulating cover for your hot tub.

Your cover should create a tight and secure seal around the edge of your hot tub. This will ensure that heat does not escape.

All high-quality hot tubs come with dense, energy-efficient foam insulation under the shell.

The areas between the outer frame and inner shell are hollow. This insulating foam fills these areas, and it hardens within the hot tub.

This helps the hot tub retain heat, and helps you save money during the winter months.

Your overall cost of running a hot tub during the winter months will vary and depends upon the model of hot tub you own, the temperature you set, frequency of use, and the cost of electricity in the area you live.

But to help calculate how much your hot tub electric bill might be, make sure and check out this recent article of mine.

I cover everything you need to know including how much of savings you might see by lowering the temperature. Just click that link to read it on my site.

Should I drain my hot tub for the winter?

You can definitely drain a hot tub for the winter if you don’t plan to use it. But a hot tub can be very enjoyable when it gets cold outside, so I would not drain it unless you are leaving the home for a month or more or the area is prone to frequent and lengthy power outages.

If you plan on using your hot tub during the winter months, it is still a good idea to drain it, clean it, and then refill it up with water on the same schedule you use the rest of the year. I change my water every 3 months, and highly recommend just getting on a set schedule.

So how often should you change your hot tub water?

Luckily I break that all down simply in a recent article. That depends on a few factors such as frequency of use, how many people use it and how well you maintain the chemical balance.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

If you plan on turning off the power to your hot tub for the winter, then you absolutely must drain your hot tub. But, feel free to leave your hot tub running 24/7 during the wintertime.

It will not freeze unless you have a long-term power outage. Just be wary of the slight cost increase in your electric bill.

Additionally, if you live in a warmer area during the winter, I would definitely drain and power down your hot tub.

How do you winterize a hot tub?

Hot tub winterizing steps:

  1. Do this before temperatures drop near or below freezing
  2. Turn off the power – Best done by flipping the breaker at the disconnect box
  3. Drain the hot tub fully – either by connecting a garden hose to the hot tub’s spigot or by using a submersible pump like this one on Amazon
  4. Use a wet/dry vac to suck up all excess water from the floor of the hot tub – There will always be some residual water after draining
  5. Use a wet/dry vac to suck excess water from all jets and water features – this will minimize the amount of water left in the plumbing which could freeze, expand, and lead to broken pipes
  6. Remove the front panel from the hot tub where the heater and pump are located
  7. Open the union fittings on either side of the heater and pump(s) – this will allow all excess water in and near the equipment to drain out
  8. Alternately, rather than draining antifreeze can be added to help ensure the pipes don’t freeze and crack – make sure to use non-toxic antifreeze like this one on Amazon.
  9. Keep the power on when adding antifreeze and allow the jets to circulate it
  10. It is OK to drop the temperature to 98 F when using antifreeze to save electricity
  11. Do not soak in a hot tub with antifreeze in it, even when using a non-toxic one
  12. When ready to resume normal use, fully drain, clean, and refill the hot tub first

Before you drain your water, ensure the chemical levels in the water have dropped. Chlorine and other sanitizers can be toxic to plants and wildlife, so give it a few days and test your water.

Next, ensure there is absolutely no power to your hot tub. Unplug the hot tub or turn off the breaker. Do not skip this step.

You will now begin to drain your water.

You will be releasing roughly 400 gallons of water, so make sure your drainage area can fit all of this. Remove the drain cap and attach a garden hose to the drain spout.

You can use a submersible pump to drain your hot tub quicker.

An inch or two of water will remain on the bottom of the hot tub. Simply mop this up or use a wet-dry vac. Next, drain your blower. Ensure the heater is turned off and cover the hot tub. Next, turn the hot tub on.  Then turn it off. Then remove the cover.

Open the access panel and locate the pump(s) and heater. Loosen the screws and allow the water to drip out. If the pump has a drain plug, remove this and let the water out. Leaving your filters in all winter is a bad idea. Remove your filters and clean or replace them.

Ensure that water is not in your lines.

This water can freeze and expand during the winter, which will cause the lines to break. Use the blow setting on your shop-vac and insert it into every drain, union, and jet, including the filter cavity.

Use non-abrasive and a hot tub cleaner that does not require rinsing to clean out the shell. Finally, clean and secure the cover.

Lastly, as I mentioned, you CAN use anti-freeze in your hot tub like you do your car.

Of course, I’m not talking about in the water if you plan on soaking in it. But it does work great in extra-cold climates to help keep those pipes from freezing. For greater detail, follow all the appropriate steps in a recent article to see how to do it.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Final thoughts

Using your hot tub during the winter months is a great, relaxing activity.

It is absolutely safe to use your hot tub during wintertime. The cost of running your hot tub during the wintertime depends on a large variety of factors:

  • The cost of electricity
  • Frequency of use
  • The set temperature
  • The model of hot tub you own

If you plan on closing your hot tub for the winter, ensure all water, including water that can be in pipes, drains, jets, and the filter cavity is completely drained from the hot tub.

But for me, there’s nothing better than being in my hot tub surrounded by the cool, crisp winter air!

Photo credits which require attribution:

Cedartub – Wood-fired hottub by Wichert Ramon is licensed under CC2.0

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Jeff Campbell