Hot tubs are a clear Greengage family favourite and a real treat on trips away. We’d love one in our garden so have been doing our research. Obviously there are social and well being benefits but do they outweigh the environmental impact?
We have a tricky decision to make. Any new purchase has manufacturing and delivery implications and hot tubs are no different. Although great strides have been made to match purchasers desire for more environmental and cost effective models, hot tubs are still a luxury item rather than a necessity or a time / labour saving device.
Manufacture / Delivery
Typically, manufacturing of traditional hot tubs releases a lot of chemicals and the temperatures needed for moulding are very high. However, this is an area where improvements have been made. Materials in new hot tubs have changed to have less of a footprint. The latest shop bought models take some beating for efficiency. For example, perfectly fitting lids can make sure that heat loss is kept to a minimum and make all the difference between cost effective and wasteful.
Obviously, you can remove the manufacturing / delivery implications by making your own. Using reclaimed or recycled materials is a great idea, but you still need heaters and pumps. Reconditioned or reused ones won’t be as cost effective as newer models are made to be more environmentally friendly. Also, the nature of parts manufacture for filters and heating mean that this is not an area where recycled materials can be used. We would love to make our own but it needs to be energy efficient.
We could choose a clever systems such as solar that can certainly maintain temperature. Although this may still need to be mains wired to get up to temperature. The panels do however, have a high initial investment. Also in countries such as the UK, where we are, you may not get you the sunshine hours and strength you need.
Chemicals / Water
There is an answer to reducing harmful chemicals e.g. salt water sanitization systems. Initial set up is expensive and expensive to run, but if you can afford it is definitely a better choice. The salt and warm water cause a reaction to create natural chlorine. UV systems where the water is treated with UV light are another option as apart from periodic chemical use it mainly avoids their use.
Water is a surprising one. Many manufacturers claim if treated properly you can keep the water changes to a minimum. If you leave the water untreated for at least three days you can reuse the water for car washing, plants etc with no repercussions for the environment. Given the amount of water households use, filling a hot tub a few times a year is negligible. Although if you have kids they do tend to empty some out with each use.
Obviously in countries like the UK, insulation is very important. Siting the hot tub carefully will make a difference and keeping filters clear and heaters services will keep running costs down.
Opinion is still divided in Greengage, go for a brand new model which is efficient but a huge footprint to make and deliver. Create our own which will use more energy in the long run. Or just not have one.
Ultimately and reluctantly, I think it’s a no for us but a market and an idea we will keep an eye on.
Words: Jennie Eastick, Amateur gardener and Office Manager