How much does the energy efficiency of hot tubs concern you and your customers?

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For the better part of the last decade or more, the West Coast has increasingly focused on the topic of sustainable energy sources and, by extension, the energy efficiency of the things we use every day. We have all witnessed the effects of the stressed power grid in California, and there have been talks of removing some of the hydropower dams here in Washington. Of course, we have also seen the impact the energy crisis in Europe has had on hot tub sales across that region.

Here in the U.S., we are fortunate to be mostly energy independent, and our energy costs are relatively low, but it doesn’t mean consumers aren’t thinking about energy use and associated costs. As a retailer, we have seen more and more customers have smart home monitoring devices installed that will tell them when their hot tub heater is running longer than normal or when their jet pump is drawing a higher load than it should be. For some of these customers, it is about controlling costs and for others, it’s about sustainability. In either case, energy efficiency is becoming more important to the consumer than it has been in the past.

Even for the retail showroom, the energy efficiency of the products we represent can have a significant impact on operating costs and might mean the difference between being able to show just a few or several operating spas. It’s certainly been something we’ve discussed as part of our annual budgeting process. Sales slowed in 2023, but the operation has grown, and energy use is still something we can control to reduce costs. With eight locations, disconnecting just one hot tub in each showroom can create a meaningful reduction in annual energy bills.

It’s clear to me that our lives will only continue to be reliant on electricity to power or recharge the things we rely on every day, and because of this, I believe energy efficiency will only move higher on the list of items customers look for when purchasing a new hot tub or swim spa.

SpaRetailer Panel - Rob Anderson

Rob Anderson
Olympic Hot Tub 
Vice President
Eight locations across the greater Puget Sound region

I don’t think more than 10% of our spa shoppers ask about the cost of energy. Consumers know when they purchase an appliance there is a cost of operation. When the purchase price is $10,000-$15,000, the monthly cost is not a factor. We are in California, and the cost of energy has always been high. All the spas sold in California also must be fully insulated. We offer spa brands that keep energy costs in mind, and that helps when the topic comes up.

The other factor in play these days is solar. A lot of our customers have solar panels that cover the cost of the electricity. We do have people asking about usage to make sure the solar they are putting in is adequate to cover the spa. 

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We only have two spas on display with water, but that’s an issue of how much power we have available, not the cost to operate those spas.

SpaRetailer Panel - Malina Breaux

Malina Breaux
Blackthorne Spas
Salinas, California

Being in a warmer climate like Texas, we don’t focus on energy costs as much as a hot tub retailer would in a cold climate. It is a question we get from consumers from time to time, but the $20-$30 monthly energy cost doesn’t seem to sway their purchasing decisions. Since in-ground pools are so popular in Texas, consumers are typically prepared for operational costs when it comes to outdoor recreational products.

I think as energy rates continue to rise, we will start to see more focus from the manufacturers on alternative heating solutions. The current technology used for standard hot tub equipment has been around for quite a while, and we are just now beginning to see some manufacturers testing air-source heat pump systems. These systems are drastically more efficient than the standard electric heating elements found in most hot tubs and swim spas on the market. Many manufacturers and retailers overseas are boasting 75%-80% more efficiency from air-source heat pump systems.

We typically run five to six wet spas per showroom. While the energy cost to do this is fairly high, the return on investment from the sales the wet models produce far exceeds the cost. When air-source heat pump systems become a more widely available option here in the U.S., we will start displaying them on one wet model in every showroom and talking about the savings and benefits of this type of alternative heating solution

SpaRetailer Panel - Cole Taylor

Cole Taylor
Southern Leisure Spas & Patio
Five Texas locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metro, Austin and San Antonio