Using a Hot Tub In Winter? 11 Quick Tips

According to Google Trends, wintertime is by far the most popular time to use a hot tub—so to help you prepare for this time of year today I want to break down a few tips to make your experience more enjoyable!

If you own a hot tub, be sure you keep up with routine maintenance this time of year and always follow the recommendations of your hot tub manufacturer (especially wintertime recommendations)

In this post, I’ll cover how to best use your hot tub in the winter, and a couple of products and best practices to remember.

1. Check your water levels frequently

In winter months specifically (where the air outside is much colder and drier than the water inside), evaporation occurs at a much higher rate—especially if you use your hot tub a lot and leave it uncovered for a few minutes each day.

Pay close attention to your water levels and have a plan to add water if needed.

To add water to your hot tub in freezing weather, you can purchase a device called a faucet diverter to connect your hose to an indoor sink. Many people prefer this method in the winter months since outdoor spigots tend to freeze up.

At a minimum, it’s a good idea to store your hose indoors to prevent it from freezing. A 5-gallon bucket can work too as a last resort.

2. Keep the water temperature a bit higher when not in use

hot tub max temp

If you use your hot tub frequently in the winter, you can save money on energy costs if you keep the water temperature around 95° Fahrenheit.

It may seem like common sense to reduce the heat when not in use, but the cost of heating up colder water is higher than maintaining a higher temperature. Since most people prefer ideal hot tub water temperatures around 100° to 102° Fahrenheit, don’t force your heater to warm up water 20 degrees every week or so.

Check out my post on hot tub temperatures 101 for more information on this topic.

3. Use a high-quality cover and cover lifter

cover lifter

To avoid heat loss (and to minimize water evaporation, be sure you use a high-quality hot tub cover with insulating properties. Most people refer to these covers as hard shell covers.

Some people use cheap, lightweight covers in the summer, but you want to trap as much heat as possible when it’s cold outside to minimize energy usage.

Check out my beginner’s guide to hot tub covers if you’re considering a new one or simply need a refresher.

In the winter months, a good insulating hot tub cover (that fits) can reduce the rate of evaporation as well.

4. Consider a hot tub cover cap

hot tub cover cap

If you live in an area where it snows a lot in the winter, a cover cap is another line of defense against harsh weather. A hot tub cover cap is a device that slips on top of a hot tub cover to protect the hot tub from water, snow, and even wind.

If you live in a region where ice tends to build up on the cover, you absolutely a hot tub cover cap or better yet…a gazebo.

Below is a video that shows what these caps look like after a heavy snow.

Hot tub insulation jackets

Hot tub insulation jackets (also called thermal covers) fall into the hot tub cap category as well, but contain insulating properties to protect your entire hot tub (including the cabinet) from the cold.

These jackets offer maximum protection from the elements and often are available to fit most hot tub sizes.

I recently wrote about how to best remove and prevent ice and snow buildup on a hot tub cover you may want to read while you’re at it.

5. Stock up on winter hot tub accessories

hot tub towel rack

While you’re at it, don’t forget a few outdoor accessories to make your hot tub experience more enjoyable. Here are a few items on the list that I recommend for hot tub owners in the winter:

  • A few plush robes and towels
  • Non-slip shoes
  • Free-standing propane heaters (great for entertaining)
  • Plenty of filters, test supplies, and chemicals

If you haven’t already seen my list of winter hot tub accessories, click here to see my entire list before the season starts.

6. Clear snow off your cover

If you live in an area that gets a low of snow each season, be sure to have a snow removal brush handy. You can also prevent potential damage to your cover or cover cap if you remove loose snow before it turns to ice.

A recommend an extendable soft-bristled brush designed to move snow like the one pictured above; these brushes are nice to have, won’t scratch your cover, and you also won’t need to stretch to reach the back of the cover.

7. Check your filters and chemicals regularly

hot tub chemicals

When it’s freezing outside, the last thing you want is to have to spend time draining and cleaning your hot tub.

In late summer to early fall, it’s best to stock up on extra filters and chemicals to ensure you have what you need to keep your hot tub clean and operational.

Winter is a pretty busy time in the hot tub community, so try to stock up on items you know you will need ahead of time in case you run into out-of-stock issues!

8. Use a floating spa blanket to trap heat

A hot tub blanket is another line of defense against heat escape that adds extra insulation to trap as much heat as possible.

These thermal blanks cost around 50 bucks a piece and are designed to fit over the entire hot tub just under your cover. I found the one above here on Amazon; it has great reviews and claims to reduce evaporation by as much as 95%.

9. Cover your hot tub with a canopy or gazebo

SummerCove 11' x 11'' cedar wood frame gazebo with steel hardtop

If you don’t want to worry about brushing snow off your cover, consider a simple canopy or gazebo as an investment to protect your hot tub from snow and ice in the winter.

If you experience heavy snow, I would go with a wooden structure you can anchor to the ground or a permanent gazebo with a metal roof.

Check out my post on the hot tub enclosure kits and gazebos for a rundown of a few of my favorites on the market. Generally, you can find these structures for sale online anywhere from $500 to $2,000.

10. Keep your towels warm with a towel warmer

Nothing beats stepping out of the hot tub and grabbing a steaming towel. For around $100, I love this bucket-style towel warmer. These come in a few different colors, but recommend these towel warmers over the electric towel racks, because it actually traps heat inside.

Here’s how it works: drop a couple of towels in the warmer before you enter your hot tub, turn on the power button, and grab your hot towels after your 15-20 minute hot tub session.

11. Use a thick robe to stay warm

If you don’t already have a thick robe for your winter hot tub sessions I highly recommend adding one to your holiday wish list. I prefer this one by Luxome, because it’s made well, made in the U.S.A, and super soft.

While you’re at it, you may want to pick up a towel and robe holder if you don’t already have one. These robe holders come in a few different forms: Freestanding towel racks or towel holders designed to be mounted to a flat surface.

I hope you enjoy your hot tub experience this season! If you need to add a bit of privacy from neighbors, be sure to also check out my post 9 Privacy Options for Any Pool or Hot Tub Area.

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