There’s nothing quite like slipping into the perfectly heated hot tub. With the bubbles rising around you, you lay back and sink into a state of deep relaxation. It’s absolute bliss.
But if there’s one issue too many hot tub owners face, it’s setting the right temperature. Not only do you have to consider how hot you personally like the water, but also the safety of the people using your spa while remembering the impact a heated hot tub will have on your monthly electric bill.
So in this article, I’ll explain what you need to consider when setting the temperature for your hot tub
Why Is Hot Tub Temperature Important?
Our body rests at an average temperature of 98.6 degrees, and immersing yourself in a hot tub that’s hotter than this is why it feels so good.
The heated water is relaxing and will soothe your muscles and help you to de-stress after a long day of work. Getting the temperature right ensures your hot tub is always perfect for a soak. But you also need to think about safety.
Spending too long in hot water raises your body temperature, which can lead to overheating, nausea and fainting, and even heat stroke if you fail to get out of the water. It’s especially critical in children and the elderly, whose bodies are less resilient to the different temperature levels of the water.
Temperature also plays a role in keeping your hot tub sanitary. Bacteria thrive in hot water, which means the warmer your hot tub is, the faster you’ll be burning through your chlorine.
On the flip side, getting the temperature right is also crucial during the colder months. If it’s not hot enough, the water inside your tub and in all the pipes will freeze. As water freezes it expands, cracking and doing a world of damage to all the internal systems your hot tub needs to run. Not a result you want, that’s for sure.
The Basics of Heating a Hot Tub
The heater in your hot tub is a simple device. With the flick of a switch or the turn of a dial, you choose the temperature you’d like. The heating elements kick in, and after a little time, it hits the temperature you’ve set.
Because they’re designed for efficiency, it can take a few hours to heat up and is why some hot tub systems now come with their own apps. Allowing you to set and control the temperature from your smartphone, ensuring it’s perfectly heated when you want to use it.
Most modern hot tubs will also have a temperature limit. Following guidelines from the CDC, the maximum setting you will be able to heat your hot tub to is 104 degrees, because of the risks to your health from spending too long in overheated water.
But no system is entirely foolproof, and I’d also recommend investing in a separate water temperature gauge for your hot tub. Before getting into the water you can do a quick temperature check to make sure that the water is perfect, and there’s also nothing wrong with your heater or the hot tubs control panel.
What Temperature Should Your Hot Tub Be?
Choosing the perfect temperature for your hot tub is more than just a personal preference, there are a handful of guidelines you should follow to ensure the best experience.
Temperature When In Use
Now while 104 degrees is the maximum temperature for most hot tubs, it’s important to note this is probably a little too hot for most people. In fact, most people will enjoy a hot tub the most when the water is at a comfortable 100 to 102 degrees.
But if you have children, especially young kids who love playing in your hot tub, it’s important to consider their needs. Children have a lower heat tolerance than we do, and they may be spending more than the recommended 10 to 15 minutes in the water.
If you have kids, my advice would be to set the hot tub somewhere between 95 to 98 degrees, to be on the safe side and reduce the chances they overheat in your hot tub.
Temperature When Not In Use (Idle)
When you’re not planning to use your hot tub for weeks or months on end, you have a couple of options to “idle” the system.
During summer, spring or autumn, it’s perfectly fine to turn the heat down on your hot tub.
I’ve found that 50 degrees is a suitable temperature for a short vacation, you’re keeping it barely warm without burning any unnecessary electricity, and you can kick the temperature back up when you do get home. The only downside is it may take a few hours to heat again to an operational temperature when you return.
If you’re planning a holiday for a few weeks, you may want to switch your hot tub heating off entirely, though you may be better off draining it to avoid any problems with chemical imbalances when you do get back.
During winter, I’d definitely not recommend idling your hot tub. Instead, you should drain and empty your hot tub completely. There’s just too much risk something goes wrong when it’s idle, and the temperature drops to a point where the water inside freezes.
You don’t want to be paying for expensive fixes to the hot tub because you tried to save a few bucks in heating costs.
Temperature For Different Health Conditions
Now we all know a good soak in a hot tub can help you relax, but there are a few conditions where you may want to check with your doctor before stepping in the water.
If you have a history of heart disease, circulatory or blood pressure problems, you should speak to your physician first. They are your best source of information, for your specific health concerns, and will be able to explain the right way to use your hot tub safely.
That being said, if you have any concerns at all, my advice would be to choose a lower temperature. 95 to 98 degrees is still very warm and comfortable, while significantly reducing the risks you’ll face after a soak in the water.
If you’re pregnant, you will need to be particularly careful with the temperature, because raising your body temperature above 102.2 degrees can cause birth defects in your unborn child. In this case, you’d want to set a temperature at 100 degrees and stay in for 10 minutes or less at a time.
Temperature In Different Weather Conditions
Depending on the particular season, changing the temperature ever so slightly can help you make the best use of your hot tub.
During winter and the colder months, you’re going to want to set your hot tub a little warmer than you would generally prefer. Because the cold air and wintery breeze will strip the heat from your hot tub, which needs to be offset by a higher temperature in the water. 102 to 104 degrees is a typical setting during winter.
During summer, you may, in fact, want the opposite. Because you’re looking to cool down (instead of warming up), I’ve actually found it’s quite nice to relax in water that’s been set closer to the 80 to 85-degree level. It’s very refreshing for a soak, without being cold, so you can also stay and enjoy the water for much longer in the pleasant weather.
Maintaining Hot Tub Energy Efficiency
When it comes to keeping your hot tub at the ideal temperature, it’s important to consider the efficiency of the system. Otherwise, you risk an astronomical electric bill.
To combat this, some users will lower their hot tub temperatures overnight then jack them back up during the day. Believing this helps them to “save” costs. Trouble is, this actually has the opposite effect.
The heating element in your hot tub has been designed for efficiency, not the rapid heating of the water. Repeatedly turning it up or down will play havoc on the system.
You will burn more energy using an approach like this, as the heater struggles to hit the ever-changing temperature setting, and you risk damaging the heating element itself (an expensive fix).
It’s a much smarter idea to boost your efficiency by insulating your hot tub, especially the sides and the top. Once you’ve reduced the ambient heat loss, your heating element will not need to work as hard to maintain your set temperature, which will bring the electricity costs right down, and create an energy efficient system.
Choosing the right temperature for your hot tub can be a considerable challenge.
Not only do you need to balance your own personal preferences with what’s safe for all of the users in your home, but it’s crucial to thinking about the ongoing costs and the best way to manage your hot tub during the different seasons and periods when it’s not in use.