Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

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Topic Author
guitarguy
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Joined: Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:10 pm

Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by guitarguy »

Hi All,

My first "can we afford this" thread in many years...DW and I have long-wanted a hot tub. We know there will be maintenance, a learning curve with the chemicals, yada yada. Unlike a pool, a boat, a beach house, fancy cars, or many other splurges that people may want to make...we are extremely confident that we'll get a lot of use out of a spa and will really enjoy having one on pretty much a daily basis (or close to it). I guess, having not made a large purchase of this type...well...ever...I figured I'd post here for some feedback.

Here are some details of our financial picture:

E-Funds: 9+ months expenses in cash and iBonds

Debt: $79k mortgage @ 5.625%, currently paying flat $1k ish of extra principal each month, scheduled to pay off Apr 2029 if we do nothing to accelerate that

Other Details: Age 39/38, kids 4 and 2, MFJ, currently single-income household, $150k ish from W2 job and side hustle

Assets:
- $741k retirement accounts [2 x Roth IRA, his 401k, her tIRA, HSA used as retirement vehicle]
- $259k non-retirement accounts [$120k taxable, $46k inherited IRA, $36k 529s, $56k cash and iBonds], this does include the e-fund dollars
- Home value $450k ish

Contributions:
- Max annually: 401k, 2 x Roth IRA, HSA
- $10k to 529 accounts
- Taxable contributions are basically on hold to fund mortgage prepayments (debating this we can save for another thread!)

I think that covers our financial picture but let me know if I missed anything important.

On the financial side for this big purchase, I'm looking for some feedback in two areas:

1. I think we can do this and avoid financial ruin (joking), but let me know if there's anything we're missing or important to consider.
2. What would be our best route to go about paying for everything? I have some ideas but curious what others would do.

I'm guessing - and I mean totally guessing as we have not gotten quotes yet - that the budget for the project will be $20-30k. I could be off. The project will include concrete slab for the hot tub along with small patio (we do have a concrete guy that will help with terrific pricing on this part), the hot tub, a gazebo or pergola of some sort with privacy, electrical work and plumbing work, permits, probably things I'm missing. I plan on doing the electrical work myself (I'm as experienced as it gets as a homeowner and can do more than basic electrical work), and I have a friend who's a master plumber that will give me good pricing on any work needed in that area.

Would appreciate any feedback on 1 and 2 above!

:sharebeer
Lastrun
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by Lastrun »

I likely won't be to much help on the specifics of 1 and 2, but it looks like you have the cash presently, and it will not interfere with your contributions to retirement plans and the 529s. The mortgage rate is not great, but you don't have a huge principal amount and have a plan to pay it off.

Just as an aside, we have a hot tub and a pool. House came with both, although we have completely redone the pool and replaced the hot tub. We use the hot tub much more than the pool, partly because we live in the DC area and I am too cheap to heat it since, well we have a huge hot tub,

But your kids are at a perfect age for it in terms of years of use, and I would buy the biggest tub I can afford. You have about 10 years of fun with them before they will not want to have anything to do with you, so I would not put it off.

We are planning to downsize soon, and the new house may or may not have a pool, but will definitely have a hot tub.

In terms of chemicals and electric, I don't see these as material costs honestly, as I am shocked how low our electric bills are compared to our old house without a pool and hot tub. The hot tub is very efficient. I can see the difference when the pool comes on line in the spring and with the AC, but I don't see a huge jump in the winter.

So good luck in your decision.
exodusNH
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by exodusNH »

guitarguy wrote: Fri Mar 29, 2024 3:34 pm I'm guessing - and I mean totally guessing as we have not gotten quotes yet - that the budget for the project will be $20-30k. I could be off. The project will include concrete slab for the hot tub along with small patio (we do have a concrete guy that will help with terrific pricing on this part), the hot tub, a gazebo or pergola of some sort with privacy, electrical work and plumbing work, permits, probably things I'm missing. I plan on doing the electrical work myself (I'm as experienced as it gets as a homeowner and can do more than basic electrical work), and I have a friend who's a master plumber that will give me good pricing on any work needed in that area.
I put in a hot tub with patio in the fall of 2019. It cost me about $25,000 in total.

However, since then, hot tubs have gone up by about 30%. The tub I got for $9800 is now $13,000+. Labor and supplies have also gone up substantially. This was for a 5 person tub. Obviously, you could squeeze more in, but that grosses me out.

This was with no pergola or any other sort of privacy structure.

The electrical was just an external "spa panel" and a 50 amp breaker with 6 ga wire running across the basement out to the spa panel.

I'm not sure what plumbing you're expecting. I just use a hose to fill it up and a sump pump to drain it. It has a gravity drain that you hook a hose up to, but that takes HOURS. Get a sump pump. Also, get an electric pressure washer to clean it. This will save you soooooooooooo much time.

Note that if you're going to be using electricity to heat, be aware that it uses A LOT of electricity. My bill went up $200-$300 per month. Now, I'm in NH, which has expensive electricity, but that is going to be your dominant cost. (It's basically a 440 gallon water heater that's sitting outside.)

Chemicals will probably run you $500/yr. With kids, you will probably have to clean it more often, so it might more. We are very careful and shower before we go in and don't use clothing that has had fabric softener on it.

Edit: a quick note on the electric usage, this is with me keeping it at 80 degrees during the week and turning it up Friday to use over the weekend. That saved about $50/mo. If you keep it at 100 all of the time so that you can use it at will, it will use more.

It heats up at about 4 degrees per hour. So, it requires planning.

And, oh, get the WiFi control option. There are many times when I wished they had offered that to me since it'd be nice to control it remotely.
tashnewbie
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by tashnewbie »

Nice change of pace from the "can I afford" this house or this car threads!!
TopDawgs23
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by TopDawgs23 »

You can definitely afford this based off your assets. For question #2, I'm wondering:

How much of your taxable account can be liquidated without recognizing gains?

Is the inherited IRA subject to the 10 year rule?
bikesandbeers
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by bikesandbeers »

In early 2020, the slab was $1.5k, the tub was $5k from Costco. I did the circuit myself. The 100foot roll of timed has gone from $150 to $350. Plus $150 for the breaker/subpanel.

We used it 5 times a week during Covid, but now it’s about once a week.

We got a $40 shade cloth, but there are various prefab gazebo options
toddthebod
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by toddthebod »

Buy the $500 inflatable hot tub from Costco. Use it for 6 months to a year. Decide if you really use it enough to invest in a real one.
Last edited by toddthebod on Sat Mar 30, 2024 8:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Watty
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by Watty »

and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

.... $56k cash and iBonds], this does include the e-fund dollars
Just use this money to write a check for the expenses.

If you do not want the hot tub enough to write a big check, then don't buy it.
guitarguy wrote: Fri Mar 29, 2024 3:34 pm I plan on doing the electrical work myself (I'm as experienced as it gets as a homeowner and can do more than basic electrical work...
I do not know it is true everywhere but my understanding was that if a hot tub is plugged in then it is not considered to be part of your house for property tax purposes. If it is wired in then you have to pay property taxes on it. At least that is what recall hearing so you might want to research that.

Just running a new electric line should not be all that expensive and you can have all the trenches dug so that the electrician does not need to deal with that.

Rain + 220V electricity + sitting in a big bathtub. That is a bad combination and even if you are comfortable with your ability if you sell the house if you do that yourself that could be an issue when you eventually sell the house or if there is an insurance claim.

I would suggest rethinking doing the wiring yourself.

A few other points.

1) Consider if you have enough space on the side of the yard to get it into your backyard and how you will do that.

2) Figure out where you will drain the hot tub since there may be local requirements on this. You neighbor will not be amused if the water drains into their yard.

3) From the start figure out how it will eventually be removed. I bought a house with a hot tub build into the deck and when it eventually died there was no way to remove it without dismantling the deck and taking out landscaping which had grown up. I ended up getting a sawzall with a large demolition blade which looked like something out of a horror movie and cutting it up into manageable size pieces and hauled it to the dump. There was also no way to put a new hot tub into the deck without major work so I did not even consider that option. Design your new patio so that it would look OK without a hot tub if you ever decide to take it out.

4) They do not put it in the glossy brochures but rodents and other critters love living(and dying-don't ask) under hot tubs and they will gnaw on wires and tube which may be on the back of the hottub and hard to fix. Research how to make them more critter resistant.

5) Call your home insurance company to see what their rules for hot tubs are.
madbrain
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by madbrain »

Make sure to budget for repair expenses. Hot tubs tend to need them. I had multiple repairs on mine. Some under warranty, some not. I used a credit card to extend the 2 year warranty to 4 years.

Do not enclose the hot tub into the ground/slab. That will make it unserviceable. Let it rest on top of a floor
We have ours on an elevated deck and tile floor. Electrical wiring runs underneath the floor. I used an electrician.
madbrain
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by madbrain »

Watty wrote: Fri Mar 29, 2024 6:22 pm 3) From the start figure out how it will eventually be removed. I bought a house with a hot tub build into the deck and when it eventually died there was no way to remove it without dismantling the deck and taking out landscaping which had grown up. I ended up getting a sawzall with a large demolition blade which looked like something out of a horror movie and cutting it up into manageable size pieces and hauled it to the dump. There was also no way to put a new hot tub into the deck without major work so I did not even consider that option. Design your new patio so that it would look OK without a hot tub if you ever decide to take it out.

4) They do not put it in the glossy brochures but rodents and other critters love living(and dying-don't ask) under hot tubs and they will gnaw on wires and tube which may be on the back of the hottub and hard to fix. Research how to make them more critter resistant.
Good points. Rodents ate the plumbing for the hot tub that came with the house. It had to be cut into pieces to remove it. Then I hate the tile floor built.
New hot tub had to fly over the house to get to the rear deck. The crane delivery was $600. It was a million dollar crane. Had no idea they cost that much.
Marq1
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by Marq1 »

You want the hot tub, put in the hot tub.

Do you really need anybody else's permission?
Valjean
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by Valjean »

Sorry to go slightly off your topic, but you have a two-year-old and a four-year-old and you think you are going to use a hot tub almost daily?I couldn’t find time to read a newspaper daily until my oldest was 7.

It would be nice when they are teenagers. It’s good to have the house where all the kids want to hang out.
WhyNotUs
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by WhyNotUs »

Figure out your electrical path before you get set on slab location. We did ours so that the wire comes up from the ground into the bottom of hot tub to keep everything neat. From the disconnect, the wire goes in underground conduit under our pavers and comes up to the tub. We did gravel instead of a slab for drainage but both can work.

Really think through how often you will have more than two people in the tub and size accordingly. There are a lot of big tubs out there that that rarely have more than 1 or 2 people in them. We bought a three person Master spa but it is really meant for two. It is perfect size for us and uses less water and electricity. We keep it at 104 degrees in winter and it uses about 350 kwh a month, in summer much less and we lower the temperature. A big tub costs more, requires more electricity and more chemicals. Some people need them but not nearly as many as are bought. Kind of like SUVs.

A good quality tub with ozonator will not use much chemicals if you go in relatively clean. I put in about 1/2 teaspoon a day of chlorine. I do change the water more often than a typical user. We use it 4 days a week average.

If you live in a cold climate, think about the distance from door to tub. If it is too great, you will use it less.

You should not need a plumber.
I own the next hot stock- VTSAX
madbrain
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by madbrain »

Don't forget to install a cover lifter. Our original ginormous 7 person hot tub lacked one.
The cover was very heavy.
Out current 6 person one has a lifter, fortunately.
Tundrama
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by Tundrama »

toddthebod wrote: Fri Mar 29, 2024 4:25 pm By the $500 inflatable hot tub from Costco. Use it for 6 months to a year. Decide if you really use it enough to invest in a real one.
+100

Hot tubs are like a cute puppy at first.

…just saying. On average, they turn into that tread mill that, long term, makes a wonderful coat rack.

Been there, done that. Loved them in the winter in far north climates. Hardly used, during summer even in far north climates.

…keeping them up, costs get annoying even when money isn’t an issue, even during a cold, outside winter’s black night, maybe twenty minutes use at most.

My advice, and it’s worth less than a key stroke…make a special savings account and go on a great three week water related vacation every year verses an expensive hot tub purchase. The rubber, low cost options fill the need just fine.
toddthebod
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by toddthebod »

Tundrama wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 8:25 am
toddthebod wrote: Fri Mar 29, 2024 4:25 pm By the $500 inflatable hot tub from Costco. Use it for 6 months to a year. Decide if you really use it enough to invest in a real one.
Ugh, "by". Embarrassing.
aristotelian
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by aristotelian »

$10k annually to 529 seems like a lot. I think you could dial that back a bit. Dipping into the taxable account also wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

You can certainly afford it. The question in these situations is, is it worth it? That is a subjective question with no right or wrong answer. What would you be giving up that might be a better use of the funds? Earlier retirement? Big family vacation? More wealth accumulating with no specific purpose? Nicer car? The first two would be higher priorities for me, but the latter two would be much lower.

We recently did a bathroom reno for $20k that stung at first but has been well worth it.
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guitarguy
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by guitarguy »

Thanks so much to everyone for the replies! :happy

I’ll address some of the financial stuff first and then circle back on all of the other things to look out for!!!
TopDawgs23 wrote: Fri Mar 29, 2024 4:11 pm You can definitely afford this based off your assets. For question #2, I'm wondering:

How much of your taxable account can be liquidated without recognizing gains?

Is the inherited IRA subject to the 10 year rule?
Thank you for the reaffirmation!

Not much, and yes.

We did a large TLH a few years back with the taxable account so the majority of our lots have lots of gains. Ha. We have a few lots of div reinvestments that have lower gains, but let’s say not very significant. We of course could use the $3k loss carryover to offset gains, but would rather offset ordinary income instead.

The inherited IRA has to be emptied by 2030.

Over the long term, our plan has basically revolved around me making around $30k profit from my side gig and using that to fund Roths and 529s and a vacation or two. Last year we moved (growing kids…) and spent my side income mostly on those expenses. We took a $25k distribution from the IRA to fund to the stuff normally funded by side income.

My immediate and first thought is to spend down side income cash for the splurge and do the same thing again this year with the IRA, and then next year go back to using side income to funnel to retirement/college.

Not to get political, but our assumption is that tax cuts may expire in a couple years so emptying the inherited IRA prior to that seemed like a good plan anyway.
aristotelian wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 8:33 am $10k annually to 529 seems like a lot. I think you could dial that back a bit. Dipping into the taxable account also wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
The $10k is for two kids just to note that. It’s also the max allowable for tax deduction in MI so that’s where we landed. I don’t expect to need to lower any saving contributions due to this splurge…so we’ll probably keep it as-is.

Marq1 wrote: Fri Mar 29, 2024 6:57 pm You want the hot tub, put in the hot tub.

Do you really need anybody else's permission?
It’s not about permission. I’m fairly sure we can afford this as noted by my joking comment in #1 above.

I was however looking for anything we may have missed or overlooked, and some recommendations on what funds to tap. Stuff like this is kinda the point of the forum, no?
aristotelian
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by aristotelian »

guitarguy wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 9:10 am It’s not about permission. I’m fairly sure we can afford this as noted by my joking comment in #1 above.

I was however looking for anything we may have missed or overlooked, and some recommendations on what funds to tap. Stuff like this is kinda the point of the forum, no?
The title of the thread starts with "Can we afford..."

As far as what funds to tap, money is fungible so you should sell whatever is tax efficient and rebalance to your desired allocation using your retirement accounts.
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Kenkat
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by Kenkat »

I put stuff like this on my HELOC and pay it off over 4-5 years. I do this even though I have the cash on hand to just pay for it. I realize that this is sub-optimal psychological behavior but that’s ok. I have a good HELOC I can use (rate is currently 7.49%) so I am willing to pay a little bit in interest above what I can get on the money market fund to avoid feeling like I am draining off my cash reserve for a big, discretionary purchase. It works for me so that’s that.

On the merits of the hot tub, we purchased ours in 1999 and it is still going after nearly 25 years (knocks on fiberglass). We have gotten a lot of enjoyment out of ours. I’ve known people who buy a hot tub and end up not using it and others who love it. That’s a risk, hopefully you will be the latter.

Repair costs / maintenance items / chemicals have been reasonable, maybe a few hundred dollars a year averaged out. Same for the extra electricity to heat it in the winter - a few hundred dollars extra a year. It adds up over time but if you enjoy it, it’s no different than spending your money on something else you’d enjoy.

Ours has been mostly trouble free, no real nightmares to report overall. It looks like you can afford it, so I’d say go for it.
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guitarguy
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by guitarguy »

Lastrun wrote: Fri Mar 29, 2024 3:49 pm But your kids are at a perfect age for it in terms of years of use, and I would buy the biggest tub I can afford. You have about 10 years of fun with them before they will not want to have anything to do with you, so I would not put it off.
This is a big part of our thought process! Where we live we'll get probably 9 months of the year using it in a traditional sense, and in the summer months we plan on turning the temp down to a warm pool level and the kiddos (and us) can get in there to cool off from the hot weather like a small pool. They'll be the perfect age for this 12-months-of-use plan for only a few more years.
Valjean wrote: Fri Mar 29, 2024 8:57 pm Sorry to go slightly off your topic, but you have a two-year-old and a four-year-old and you think you are going to use a hot tub almost daily?I couldn’t find time to read a newspaper daily until my oldest was 7.

It would be nice when they are teenagers. It’s good to have the house where all the kids want to hang out.
Ha...yes we do. Our kids will use it with us, and in the summers they'll use it differently as noted above. Plus they (luckily) sleep very well and go to bed reliably at 730-8PM every single night. We can easily envision using it almost daily for a quick soak after they go to bed to wind down and chat about our day, read, watch Netflix (our plan also involves a TV and streaming setup), whatever. We normally do this on the couch or at the table...transition to the hot tub? Yes please. We will use it! ha.
Tundrama wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 8:25 am
toddthebod wrote: Fri Mar 29, 2024 4:25 pm By the $500 inflatable hot tub from Costco. Use it for 6 months to a year. Decide if you really use it enough to invest in a real one.
+100

Hot tubs are like a cute puppy at first.

…just saying. On average, they turn into that tread mill that, long term, makes a wonderful coat rack.

Been there, done that. Loved them in the winter in far north climates. Hardly used, during summer even in far north climates.

…keeping them up, costs get annoying even when money isn’t an issue, even during a cold, outside winter’s black night, maybe twenty minutes use at most.

My advice, and it’s worth less than a key stroke…make a special savings account and go on a great three week water related vacation every year verses an expensive hot tub purchase. The rubber, low cost options fill the need just fine.
I can appreciate this thought process of buying the cheap tub to see if we like it. I really can. But I should note that this isn't a whim purchase...we have wanted a hot tub for about a decade, but wanted to wait until we landed in our "forever home" before buying one. We're here now. :happy

It was honestly a plan we came up with when we walked through this house the first time before putting in an offer. Just outside our lower level walk out, close to the house, next to the deck, is a perfect blank slate spot for a small patio and spa. The room just inside the walk out door is currently a play room, but phase two of this (several years from now) will involve turning it from a child play area to an adult play area by replacing umpteen toy bins and a Fisher Price work bench with a wet bar and the Toy Story craft table with and a high top and a few stools. :sharebeer

We are very lucky to have friends and family that have water and woodsy getaways. We typically go on 3-4 vacations a year and don't need to spend a huge amount to do so, but those may be lessened now that our oldest is hitting kindergarten. We really don't foresee the hot tub being an opportunity cost in terms of losing vacation experiences now or in the future.

P.S. - We bit the bullet and bought a treadmill over a year ago and have used it nearly every single day since. We are pretty confident about the use that we'll get out of the spa.
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guitarguy
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by guitarguy »

aristotelian wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 9:44 am
guitarguy wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 9:10 am It’s not about permission. I’m fairly sure we can afford this as noted by my joking comment in #1 above.

I was however looking for anything we may have missed or overlooked, and some recommendations on what funds to tap. Stuff like this is kinda the point of the forum, no?
The title of the thread starts with "Can we afford..."

As far as what funds to tap, money is fungible so you should sell whatever is tax efficient and rebalance to your desired allocation using your retirement accounts.
Thank you.

Perhaps the title "Can we afford (I'm pretty sure we can without causing ourselves any major financial problems but let me know if I'm missing/overlooking something or if there's anything else to consider), and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?" would've been better but I'm not sure if it would've fit. So I clarified in the post the fact that I'm pretty sure we can in fact afford this.
Olemiss540
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by Olemiss540 »

Given how well you are doing with regards to your retirement funds, I would be half tempted to knock my taxable account down $80k, payoff my mortgage, start building taxable back up 3k/mo putting the money in money market funds, and start getting quotes for my hot tub reno. Guessing that's easily a 3-4 month start to finish project once a contractor is selected, can cashflow that and pull another 10k out of taxable if needed end of Aug.

Once the project is done, taxable account will skyrocket as your cashflow continues to send investment money back towards building it back up ASAP. Never taking another loan again.
I hold index funds because I do not overestimate my ability to pick stocks OR stock pickers.
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guitarguy
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by guitarguy »

Thanks for all the replies in the way of features of the hot tub itself and things to look out for!

Making notes, so far we’re planning on looking for the following features but anything else would be more than welcome:

- Acrylic tub
- Good insulation, must remain serviceable
- WiFi temp control
- Good quality cover with lifter
- 24/7 standalone filter pump rather than main pumps for circulation
- Ozonator? Need to look into this…no idea what it is. Ha!
- ??


Other things to note:

We live on a 3/4 acre corner lot. Plenty of space to get the tub to its location (shorter path if it can be moved on its side rather than flat?). If it has to be moved flat we could drive a truck back there. Drainage (will def use a sump pump) will go out to drainage ditch (stream when it’s wet out, ditch when it’s dry) at the road.

Will look into credit card for extended warranty!! Great tip.

The tub will go on a slab, will not be built into anything so it could easily be removed or serviced. Will also absolutely look to critter proof!!

Will definitely run electrical conduit beneath the concrete and come up out of the ground cleanly. With minimal thinking about it, I will likely plan for the hot tub wiring, and runs for another circuit and low voltage stuff (ethernet for streaming or speaker wiring or anything like that we may want, another outlet or two for chargers and the TV, etc. That way we can do whatever we want out there 10’ or whatever from the house.

Will definitely contact home insurance company to check on this. Thanks for the tip!
mike2026
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by mike2026 »

Leaving aside your finances, we bought a hot tub 3 months ago after wanting one for years. Put it on my Amex Platinum for extended warranty protection. Bought a standard 84 x 84 from a reputable company. Cost was $12,500 before taxes, which included delivery and cover. Trenching and hooking up electrical was another 3k, hot tub placed on existing paver slab. Have not noticed a big hit to our electric bill.

Use it almost every day, so happy to have made the purchase.
Atomsplitter
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by Atomsplitter »

Name brand = more cost but also more places to get parts to fix, assuming you're buying for the long haul!

Get all seats! The lay back bench ones are a total waste of space, IMHO, our friends had one in theirs and no one ever used it was just part of Tub no one used.

Get the big one mine says rated for 8. Yea right, 4 adults is fairly comfortable, 6 adults better be good friends or family!

Put a cover on your cover! A nice custom cover for a few hundred on top of your lift cover will greatly extend it life and save you a lot in the long run!
runswithscissors
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by runswithscissors »

You can afford it so get the hot tub. Enjoy your life with your family.
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Kenkat
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by Kenkat »

Atomsplitter wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 11:39 am Get all seats! The lay back bench ones are a total waste of space, IMHO, our friends had one in theirs and no one ever used it was just part of Tub no one used.

Get the big one mine says rated for 8. Yea right, 4 adults is fairly comfortable, 6 adults better be good friends or family!
Strong agreement with both of these.
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guitarguy
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by guitarguy »

Atomsplitter wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 11:39 am Name brand = more cost but also more places to get parts to fix, assuming you're buying for the long haul!

Get all seats! The lay back bench ones are a total waste of space, IMHO, our friends had one in theirs and no one ever used it was just part of Tub no one used.

Get the big one mine says rated for 8. Yea right, 4 adults is fairly comfortable, 6 adults better be good friends or family!

Put a cover on your cover! A nice custom cover for a few hundred on top of your lift cover will greatly extend it life and save you a lot in the long run!
Thanks for the thoughts! We are debating on size as most often it’ll be 2 people in there…but we know a few times of year at least we’ll have guests. We were thinking a 6 person but still need to investigate cost difference, etc.

Re: the lounger…we were thinking we DO want that! Haha. It’s typically my go-to spot in any hot tub. DW doesn’t like lounge seats typically (she tends to float) but I typically love them in any hot tub haha. Plus, from experience, the top of the lounger is a good “cool down” seat and play spot for little ones. Interesting train of thought on this though!
exodusNH
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by exodusNH »

guitarguy wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 12:18 pm
Atomsplitter wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 11:39 am Name brand = more cost but also more places to get parts to fix, assuming you're buying for the long haul!

Get all seats! The lay back bench ones are a total waste of space, IMHO, our friends had one in theirs and no one ever used it was just part of Tub no one used.

Get the big one mine says rated for 8. Yea right, 4 adults is fairly comfortable, 6 adults better be good friends or family!

Put a cover on your cover! A nice custom cover for a few hundred on top of your lift cover will greatly extend it life and save you a lot in the long run!
Thanks for the thoughts! We are debating on size as most often it’ll be 2 people in there…but we know a few times of year at least we’ll have guests. We were thinking a 6 person but still need to investigate cost difference, etc.

Re: the lounger…we were thinking we DO want that! Haha. It’s typically my go-to spot in any hot tub. DW doesn’t like lounge seats typically (she tends to float) but I typically love them in any hot tub haha. Plus, from experience, the top of the lounger is a good “cool down” seat and play spot for little ones. Interesting train of thought on this though!
We have a 5-seat, midrange Bullfrog Spa. It's 5 seat because there is one spot where you can stretch out all of the way.

We have have 4 people at most in it. You couldn't fit more if you didn't want to be overtopping it.

It holds about 440 gallons. I'm not sure how people don't see a major increase on their electric bills, but perhaps they're further south. It doesn't use all that much between May and September.

You'll probably want the ability to sit out of the tub. It's amazing how a 1 degree difference can make you feel too hot.

In general, we have it at 102 in the dead of winter, 101 in late fall and early spring, 100 in late spring, and 98-99 in the summer. Even when it's 10 degrees outside, 104 is HOT.

With the cover closed and the jets on high, they add about 2 degrees every half hour or heat to the tub.

The ozone option is nice. I'd get that as it cuts down on sanitizer.

I mentioned the sump pump in an earlier post. I just drag a house out to the street and let it flow into the storm water drains. (When I'm lazy, I actually just pump it into a utility sink in the basement.) The water is cleaner than your shower water.

If you're on a well, you'll probably want to look into a filter for your hose that you can use to filter out the iron and other metals, since those will mess with the chemical balance.

You can buy most of the chemicals in bulk on Amazon for cheaper than the spa place.

As noted, we have a Bullfrog Spa, which uses "Jetpacks". It simplifies the internal plumbing of the tub, since you don't need 40-60 little pipes. You get one big pipe to each seat.

The seats to build up mildew behind them. I use a pressure washer to clean them.
Atomsplitter
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by Atomsplitter »

guitarguy wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 12:18 pm
Re: the lounger…we were thinking we DO want that! Haha. It’s typically my go-to spot in any hot tub. DW doesn’t like lounge seats typically (she tends to float) but I typically love them in any hot tub haha. Plus, from experience, the top of the lounger is a good “cool down” seat and play spot for little ones. Interesting train of thought on this though!
We have a Hot Springs Grandee and there is a cool down seat/step on the entrance side. Each spot has jets for different effect, one is kind of like lounger but a corner seat. We found our friends tub with a lounger ok for just two people but the lounger kind of took up two seating spots so it was like have two seats a cooldown spot and someone had to stretch out on lounger or sit up in a seat not designed for sitting. Once the kids got older four of us in the tub was goanna be awkward, that was the thought we went with anyway. We have loved our almost 20 year old Hot Springs and consider it one of our better investments! (can I call it that on a forum like this? :confused )
madbrain
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by madbrain »

Tundrama wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 8:25 am +100

Hot tubs are like a cute puppy at first.

…just saying. On average, they turn into that tread mill that, long term, makes a wonderful coat rack.

Been there, done that. Loved them in the winter in far north climates. Hardly used, during summer even in far north climates.

…keeping them up, costs get annoying even when money isn’t an issue, even during a cold, outside winter’s black night, maybe twenty minutes use at most.
I don't use my treadmill nearly as much as I should, so I agree with you about that part :)

However, I could not even imagine living in a home without a hot tub. I use mine 1 to 4 hours nearly every day.

I have not owned an inflatable hot tub, but I think there are a lot of downsides. In particular, they take a very long time to heat, and are very poorly insulated. Operating costs will be much higher, for a sub-par experience, IMO. I know people who got rid of their inflatable hot tub due to the high electric bill. OP should read the page below to see the pros and cons.

https://homepoolworld.com/12-pros-and-c ... -worth-it/
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by madbrain »

Atomsplitter wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 11:39 am Get the big one mine says rated for 8. Yea right, 4 adults is fairly comfortable, 6 adults better be good friends or family!
Mine is rated for 6 people, and I have had 8 adults in it, admittedly not large adults. There are only 6 seats, though. And there was some water overflow :) The chlorine quickly dissolves with that many people also. Some had to be added mid-session.
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by madbrain »

guitarguy wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 10:51 am - WiFi temp control
If you use the hot tub every day, this not very useful.
Even a 240V/50amp hot tub can take 7 hours to heat the water from cold to desired temperature. It's about 6-7 degrees rise per hour. You can speed this up by turning on the pumps, but they typically stop after 1 hour. If you restart the pumps very hour, it will cut the time in half. I keep mine at 97 all the time except when I go on vacation. I either turn it down to 80, or empty it.

Make sure not to overheat the hot tub. The higher temperatures have an increased risk of drowning, especially if you are using it alone. Don't heat it to 104. Under 100 is safer

Don't waste your time with the built-in audio features. The speakers are very small and underpowered. Classical music is completely overwhelmed by the sound of the jets. Using a separate audio system is a must.
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by exodusNH »

madbrain wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 5:46 pm
guitarguy wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 10:51 am - WiFi temp control
If you use the hot tub every day, this not very useful.
Even a 240V/50amp hot tub can take 7 hours to heat the water from cold to desired temperature. It's about 6-7 degrees rise per hour. You can speed this up by turning on the pumps, but they typically stop after 1 hour. If you restart the pumps very hour, it will cut the time in half. I keep mine at 97 all the time except when I go on vacation. I either turn it down to 80, or empty it.

Make sure not to overheat the hot tub. The higher temperatures have an increased risk of drowning, especially if you are using it alone. Don't heat it to 104. Under 100 is safer

Don't waste your time with the built-in audio features. The speakers are very small and underpowered. Classical music is completely overwhelmed by the sound of the jets. Using a separate audio system is a must.
I get about 4 degrees per hour, 240V/50A. As you note, running the jets doubles that. Mine shut off after 30 minutes.

Yes, 104 is too hot even when it is 10 degrees out. 101-102 is nice in a NH February.

WiFi control would be convenient so that you can decide while you're away from the home to turn it up.

I keep mine at 80 until the weekend. From Sunday to about Wednesday, it cools down from 100+ to 80.
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by madbrain »

exodusNH wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 5:56 pm WiFi control would be convenient so that you can decide while you're away from the home to turn it up.

I keep mine at 80 until the weekend. From Sunday to about Wednesday, it cools down from 100+ to 80.
Yes, if you use the hot tub infrequently, and it cools down that fast, it can make sense. I think the OP wants to use it more often than that, though :-)
From Sunday to Wednesday, I would have to add chlorine, also, which cannot yet be done by WiFi.
JBTX
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by JBTX »

I have no experience with hot tubs so I can’t speak to them. It seems like you can comfortably afford it, and even if you didn’t use it that amount of money sunk is not the end of the world. So no reason not to do it.

For me hot tubs would have 2 issues

- The ick factor of swirling hot water and bits of human anatomy that accumulates
- safety for young children.
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guitarguy
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by guitarguy »

madbrain wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 6:10 pm
exodusNH wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 5:56 pm WiFi control would be convenient so that you can decide while you're away from the home to turn it up.

I keep mine at 80 until the weekend. From Sunday to about Wednesday, it cools down from 100+ to 80.
Yes, if you use the hot tub infrequently, and it cools down that fast, it can make sense. I think the OP wants to use it more often than that, though :-)
From Sunday to Wednesday, I would have to add chlorine, also, which cannot yet be done by WiFi.
Thank you for all the insights!

Yes - we would definitely not plan to let it cool during the week and heat up for the weekend. Almost certainly we would use it multiple nights during the week after the kids go to bed.

The times that we likely wouldn’t want to use it would be like overnight and during the morning and early afternoon on most days. Especially during the week. But with the notes about how long it takes to heat the water my guess is it won’t work like a Nest thermostat getting set to eco mode when we leave the house. It’ll probably end up being more efficient to just keep it at temp right?

Maybe the WiFi control isn’t a must have…
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by madbrain »

guitarguy wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 8:25 pm Maybe the WiFi control isn’t a must have…
You are welcome. I think the Wifi temp control is a bit of a gimmick. Typing this from my hot tub BTW :-)
FIRWYW
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by FIRWYW »

toddthebod wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 8:30 am
Tundrama wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 8:25 am
toddthebod wrote: Fri Mar 29, 2024 4:25 pm By the $500 inflatable hot tub from Costco. Use it for 6 months to a year. Decide if you really use it enough to invest in a real one.
Ugh, "by". Embarrassing.
Ironically had never seen one until today when visiting my brother in law. My wife has never wanted a hot tub before (though likes them when we go places). Now she wants on of these. I think I can get away with that with our HOA rules as not permanent so I am thinking about it. . . But yeah, does look kind of silly.
toddthebod
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by toddthebod »

FIRWYW wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 9:23 pm
toddthebod wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 8:30 am
Tundrama wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 8:25 am
toddthebod wrote: Fri Mar 29, 2024 4:25 pm By the $500 inflatable hot tub from Costco. Use it for 6 months to a year. Decide if you really use it enough to invest in a real one.
Ugh, "by". Embarrassing.
Ironically had never seen one until today when visiting my brother in law. My wife has never wanted a hot tub before (though likes them when we go places). Now she wants on of these. I think I can get away with that with our HOA rules as not permanent so I am thinking about it. . . But yeah, does look kind of silly.
My wife always wanted a hot tub. I bought the Costco inflatable one for her for Christmas 2022. I wanted to see how much she would use it, plus we have other priorities for our money. She has used it about 3x/week since then. It has held up great.
exodusNH
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by exodusNH »

madbrain wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 6:10 pm
exodusNH wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 5:56 pm WiFi control would be convenient so that you can decide while you're away from the home to turn it up.

I keep mine at 80 until the weekend. From Sunday to about Wednesday, it cools down from 100+ to 80.
Yes, if you use the hot tub infrequently, and it cools down that fast, it can make sense. I think the OP wants to use it more often than that, though :-)
From Sunday to Wednesday, I would have to add chlorine, also, which cannot yet be done by WiFi.
Get a "frog". My tub has an auto chlorine dispenser that sits right over the filters. A friend has a tub without that setup and bought an aftermarket one.
exodusNH
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by exodusNH »

guitarguy wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 8:25 pm
madbrain wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 6:10 pm
exodusNH wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 5:56 pm WiFi control would be convenient so that you can decide while you're away from the home to turn it up.

I keep mine at 80 until the weekend. From Sunday to about Wednesday, it cools down from 100+ to 80.
Yes, if you use the hot tub infrequently, and it cools down that fast, it can make sense. I think the OP wants to use it more often than that, though :-)
From Sunday to Wednesday, I would have to add chlorine, also, which cannot yet be done by WiFi.
Thank you for all the insights!

Yes - we would definitely not plan to let it cool during the week and heat up for the weekend. Almost certainly we would use it multiple nights during the week after the kids go to bed.

The times that we likely wouldn’t want to use it would be like overnight and during the morning and early afternoon on most days. Especially during the week. But with the notes about how long it takes to heat the water my guess is it won’t work like a Nest thermostat getting set to eco mode when we leave the house. It’ll probably end up being more efficient to just keep it at temp right?

Maybe the WiFi control isn’t a must have…
It's definitely more cost effective to turn it down. They're electric heaters -- 100% efficient. Your tub will lose heat at a rate determined by it's temp and the outdoor conditions. Regardless of that those are, the higher the delta, the faster the heat transfers.

NH has expensive electricity. My winter bill went from $50 to $250-$300. (I had oil head and a gas water heater and stove.)

It uses relatively little in the summer, though I don't notice a lowering of the bill because of needing to run the AC. My electric bill is now a continuous $250-$350/mo. (Electricity prices jumped after Russia invaded Ukraine.)

May and October are my only reprieves -- warm enough not to lose too much heat in the tub and cool enough to not use AC.
Bruceski44
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by Bruceski44 »

We redid our BY and it provided a safe area for my outside kitchen, a beautiful retreat for us and years of enjoyment for ourselves, kids and grandkids. Plus, it added to our house's value, but perhaps not in proportion to what it cost us.

I do not recommend fake grass, as it can raise the yard's temperature by 10 degrees F or more, depending on sunlight and wind. It doesn't hold water and the sand and clay base absorbs and re-radiates heat.

I have a hot tub now and use it twice a day. You really should know how to care for it, and there aren't many current forums for self-help. Risks are skin conditions and even "hot tub lung" a bronchial infection leading to persistent coughing. Get an ozone generator to improve sanitation, or better yet, a UV light which will kill all bacteria present. Also get a Taylor test kit to monitor chemical levels and learn more about treatment.

According to CDC, children should be at least 5 YO before using a hot tub.

Good luck and enjoy!
HeelaMonster
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by HeelaMonster »

toddthebod wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 9:58 pm
FIRWYW wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 9:23 pm
toddthebod wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 8:30 am
Tundrama wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 8:25 am
toddthebod wrote: Fri Mar 29, 2024 4:25 pm By the $500 inflatable hot tub from Costco. Use it for 6 months to a year. Decide if you really use it enough to invest in a real one.
Ugh, "by". Embarrassing.
Ironically had never seen one until today when visiting my brother in law. My wife has never wanted a hot tub before (though likes them when we go places). Now she wants on of these. I think I can get away with that with our HOA rules as not permanent so I am thinking about it. . . But yeah, does look kind of silly.
My wife always wanted a hot tub. I bought the Costco inflatable one for her for Christmas 2022. I wanted to see how much she would use it, plus we have other priorities for our money. She has used it about 3x/week since then. It has held up great.
Same, except ours was ordered via Amazon (SaluSpa made by Coleman)... and the primary intended user was me and not DW! :wink:

It's been great for us. Extending the DIY theme from finance to carpentry, I built an enclosure that surrounds the pump and tub... simple stud wall construction (30" tall) with rigid foam board insulation and Hardie panel siding, capped off with deck board top rail, which both protects the inflatable and contains heat. The jets work as well as the expensive in-ground hot tub we had at a previous house, and I have been impressed with the toughness of the PVC liner. For $500, I figured I could replace every few years (if necessary) and still come out way ahead of $5000-15000 for a hard-sided model.

One caveat with the OP in mind. We are retired and happy to just slip in and enjoy the hot soak. The inflatable might be less amenable to small children, if they wanted to jump and splash around, etc.
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by BolderBoy »

exodusNH wrote: Fri Mar 29, 2024 3:52 pmI just use a hose to fill it up and a sump pump to drain it. It has a gravity drain that you hook a hose up to, but that takes HOURS. Get a sump pump. Also, get an electric pressure washer to clean it. This will save you soooooooooooo much time.
Truly outstanding suggestions! These were the two issues that convinced me to get rid of my hot tub - draining and cleaning took too much time. Had I thought of those two solutions, well. Live and learn (from the BH forum.)
"Never underestimate one's capacity to overestimate one's abilities" - The Dunning-Kruger Effect
madbrain
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by madbrain »

exodusNH wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 10:49 am Get a "frog". My tub has an auto chlorine dispenser that sits right over the filters. A friend has a tub without that setup and bought an aftermarket one.
Nice. How does it know when/how much chlorine to dispense ? I may be interested in adding one.
madbrain
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by madbrain »

exodusNH wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 10:54 am It's definitely more cost effective to turn it down. They're electric heaters -- 100% efficient. Your tub will lose heat at a rate determined by it's temp and the outdoor conditions. Regardless of that those are, the higher the delta, the faster the heat transfers.
Oh, absolutely, it is less expensive. But those savings have a cost - it's annoying if you want to use the hot tub and have to wait a couple hours to get ot back to temperature.
NH has expensive electricity. My winter bill went from $50 to $250-$300. (I had oil head and a gas water heater and stove.)

It uses relatively little in the summer, though I don't notice a lowering of the bill because of needing to run the AC. My electric bill is now a continuous $250-$350/mo. (Electricity prices jumped after Russia invaded Ukraine.)

May and October are my only reprieves -- warm enough not to lose too much heat in the tub and cool enough to not use AC.
October often has some very hot days here in CA. The electricity is very expensive as well. I have a 23.2 kW 70-panel solar PV system, which more than covers the home and 2 EVs, including the hot tub. The electric bill is paid annually. I expect a zero or slightly negative bill at the next true up statement.
exodusNH
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by exodusNH »

madbrain wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 4:57 pm
exodusNH wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 10:49 am Get a "frog". My tub has an auto chlorine dispenser that sits right over the filters. A friend has a tub without that setup and bought an aftermarket one.
Nice. How does it know when/how much chlorine to dispense ? I may be interested in adding one.
I suspect there's a buffering chemical that reacts when the chlorine level drops below a threshold.
exodusNH
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Re: Can we afford, and how to pay for, a hot tub / back yard reno splurge?

Post by exodusNH »

madbrain wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 5:01 pm October often has some very hot days here in CA. The electricity is very expensive as well. I have a 23.2 kW 70-panel solar PV system, which more than covers the home and 2 EVs, including the hot tub. The electric bill is paid annually. I expect a zero or slightly negative bill at the next true up statement.
Ah. Panels make all the difference.

In NH, the electric bill is split in two -- generation charges and distribution charges. You can choose an alternate generator, but the distribution fees stay the same and go to the former monopoly. In typical times, it's almost 50/50. After the surge in natural gas prices, it was closer to 2/3 generation.

When you sell excess capacity back to the grid, you only get the generation fee. There's no credit for distribution. Given we have this thing called winter, you will always have a bill unless you can generate 2x+ your annual usage during the summer months. (I actually agree with the model, since there are real costs to maintaining the grid, but it makes the payback period much longer.)

Oir SREC market is also garbage. You have to opt into it. The utility is able to claim credit for anyone who hasn't taken a proactive step to opt in. Because the dollar amounts are so low, there isn't incentive to opt in and feeds into the cycle.
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