You might associate hot tubs with summer and sunshine, but you can absolutely use them all year-round.
A soak in your home spa during winter is a great way to thaw yourself out on those days when you just can’t get warm, destress during a hectic Christmas schedule, or socialise in style over the holiday season.
And slipping into your spa after a thick layer of crunchy snow has fallen is an experience you’re not likely to forget.
However, there are a few rules of thumb you should stick to when you’re using your hot tub once the temperatures drop and the weather can start to get wild.
In this short guide, we’ll run you through everything you need to know if you want to use your hot tub in the winter.
And if you know you’re not going to use your hot tub in the colder months, we’ll walk you through how to winterise it so you can leave it safely locked up over winter.
Everything you need to know about using your hot tub in the winter
You can use your hot tub pretty much as usual throughout the winter months, but there are a few things you should keep in mind to get the most from it once temperatures start to drop.
First things first: if you want to use your hot tub during winter, be sure to buy one with plenty of insulation. We’d recommend sticking to fully-insulated models, but you could get by with a partially-insulated home spa if your budget doesn’t stretch to a fully-foamed equivalent.
Just be aware that your hot tub might not get too hot in winter if you don’t go for a model with first-class insulation. Plus, you can expect your hot tub running costs to skyrocket as its heater works overtime to bring the water up to temperature in the winter chill.
No matter how well insulated your hot tub is, it’s well worth fitting it with a floating thermal blanket over winter. This extra layer of insulation will help prevent heat loss, keeping your hot tub hot and saving you money on your electricity bills.
It’s also well worth installing hot tub housing around your spa if you’re eager to use it during winter. This will protect it from whatever the weather throws at it and allow you to enjoy your home spa in the wind, rain, and snow.
And let’s face it: a soak in your hot tub sounds a lot less appealing if you’ve got to get wrapped up and clear snow off the cover before you can hop in. A hot tub shelter will stop your spa from being buried by snow, leaving you to simply enjoy a particularly picturesque soak rather than reach for the shovel.
Let there be light
It’s well worth installing some lighting around your hot tub to help you navigate to and from the house during after-dark soaks on days when the nights draw in early.
This doesn’t have to be a big expense – simply hanging some fairy lights up around your spa can add plenty of ambiance for soaks during dark winter nights.
Keep it running
The best thing you can do for your hot tub during winter is to keep it running. If you drain it, you’re running the risk of leaving behind water that’s liable to freeze, expand, and crack your spa’s pipework. This could leave a nasty surprise waiting for you in spring, when you’ll discover the leak and have to go through the stress and expense of getting your hot tub repaired instead of enjoying your first soak of the year.
If your hot tub has a “freeze protection”, “no freeze”, or “winter’ mode, be sure to flick it on when temperatures start to drop. Your spa will then activate its pumps if it senses the temperature of its water drop to a level that could cause freezing damage.
Lock it down
If your hot tub’s cover gets ripped off by wicked weather you could end up with a serious problem on your hands. So, be extra vigilant about locking your cover down after each time you use your spa in winter.
It’s also well worth using some sturdy hot tub straps and a quality cover cap to make absolutely sure your hot tub’s cover isn’t going to be pulled out of place, no matter what the weather throws at it.
Avoid the air jets
When you’re using your hot tub during winter, it’s best to avoid using the air jets, which will let cold air into the water and quickly bring the temperature down.
Last but not least: be sure to bring a cosy robe and comfy slippers to slip straight into as soon as you step out of your spa. Going from the hot water straight into the cold of winter can be quite a shock to the system, so be sure to always wrap up warm straight away.
How to winterise your hot tub
Know you’re not going to be using your hot tub over winter? Then there’s no need to leave it running all those months, bumping up your electricity bill.
Instead, you can winterise it – drain it, prepare it for a few months of sitting stagnant, and leave it turned off at the mains.
To winterise your hot tub you’ll need a wet and dry vacuum and a spare hour or so.
If your hot tub has an air channel and blower system (most high-end models do), turn off the heater and activate the blower to purge water from the lines.
Open the access panel in the cabinet and loosen the pump and heater unions to allow water to drain from the plumbing lines.
Remove the filters, clean them, and store them in a dry place.
Grab your wet and dry vacuum, set it to blow, and use it to force all the water out of the jets and pipes. Be extremely thorough here, as it’s crucial that you remove every drop of water from your hot tub.
Clean the shell and cover, then dry both thoroughly (any moisture at all left in your hot tub over winter will likely lead to mould and mildew)
Close and lock the cover, then firmly strap it down with hot tub straps.
After you’ve gone through this process, you can leave your spa untouched until you refill it in spring.
As long as you make sure you’ve removed every drop of water from your hot tub, it will be ready and waiting for you to start enjoying again when the weather starts to warm up.
If you’re nervous about catching every drop of water – or if this sounds like something you’d rather not mess with – then don’t be afraid to call in a professional. Local hot tub maintenance companies and most WhatSpa? approved dealerships will be able to winterise your hot tub for you for a small fee.
You can use a fully-foamed hot tub from a quality brand all year-round as long as you follow the steps we’ve outlined in this guide to give it an extra bit of protection during winter.
If you know you’re not going to use your hot tub once the cold weather sets in, winterising it is a simple procedure that can slash your electricity bills – just as long as you’re careful to make sure you remove every drop of water from your home spa.
Whether you’re looking for a hot tub you can use 365 days a year or one you’ll put into hibernation over winter, be sure to pick up your free copy of WhatSpa? magazine for help narrowing down a shortlist of best buys and quickly finding the right home spa for you.
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I am the Editor-in-Chief at WhatSpa? Media Group and have been actively involved in the hot tub and swim spa industry for over 20 years. I fell in love with hot tubbing in 2002 and since then have dedicated my career to helping millions of hot tub buyers to make more informed choices when navigating their buying journey.