The dream of owning a spa is one that many Australians aspire to. There are few things better for making the most out of a warm summer day than taking a dip in a spa and letting the massage jets take away your stress. They’re great for relaxing in solo or catching up with friends and family.
One thing that scares many would-be spa owners is the idea of the potential costs involved. After all, we’ve all heard an envious friend or work colleague talking about how expensive their neighbour’s new spa must be to maintain. There are a few things to keep in mind when you hear anyone talk about the expense of a pool or spa. These are, that most people are thinking about the volume of water in a pool and spas are much smaller, requiring less time, attention and consumables. Second, technology has come a long way and spas and pools are much easier and cheaper to maintain than they once were. Finally, many people rationalise why they wouldn’t want their own spa or pool, simply because they are jealous of those who do. With all that said, let’s break down the actual costs of owning your own spa.
There are a few main things that people think of when they consider the cost of owning a spa. These are usually the water usage, the chemicals required, the need for filters and consumables and the energy costs. Let’s look at each now:
First, while even a small 10,000+ litre in-ground swimming pool does require a lot of water, spas do not even come close to this. Looking at some of Sapphire Spa’s most popular models, from the smallest to the largest of our spa pools we have the 510L mySpace, 1090L myTemptation, 1250L myTimeout and even our biggest 10-person spa pool, the myTeam is a mere 3000L when compared to a swimming pool.
In terms of water use, you will typically do a 1/3 water change every 3 months and a 100% change every 6-12 months. Assuming a worst-case scenario this equates to 3.6x your spa’s volume per year. For an average 1200L spa, this is 4300L per year and with even the most expensive water rates in Australia this still comes out at just $20 of water for an entire year.
Now, evaporation shouldn’t be a major issue as your spa should be covered when not in use. But, in case you were wondering, typical pool evaporation in Australia is about 6.4L per square meter of water surface, per day. For an average 2m x 2m portable spa pool, if uncovered 3 days per week, that’s still only another $18 per year in water.
The next expense that comes to mind for many is the cost of changing filters and other consumables. The exact cost will depend on the number of filters your spa has, your frequency of use, and how carefully you maintain your water quality among other things.
For most spas you will need to change a pair of filter pods once every 12 months. Infrequently used spas may get longer and small spas may only have a single filter. Typically the cost per filter pod replacement is $50-$60 each.
While some spa companies will offer cheaper, ozone-only water sanitization systems, Sapphire Spas highly recommends a combined ozone and UV-C sanitization system such as that offered by Clearzone. Both units will require an ozone generator replacement, this is a job for a trained technician and the price will depend on if the unit’s electrodes can be replaced or if it is a fully contained unit requiring replacement.
In combined UV-C and ozone systems there will be a cost of replacement lamps every 18 month-2 years, typically costing $125 and at the same time, the water flow check valve should also be replaced, costing $20. While these can sound expensive, the real advantage of a combined UV-C and ozone system such as Clearzone is that it can save up to 70% of your chemical consumption for maintaining water quality. Not only is this healthier, but the cost of chemicals will add up much faster than the cost of your sanitisation system.
The biggest cost of operating a spa is the energy costs associated with heating and running your spa. There are a lot of things that you can do to decrease your energy use, this includes turning off your water heater when your spa will not be used for a long time, keeping your spa covered with a quality insulating cover when not being used and purchasing a high-quality spa with good thermal insulation properties around the shell of the spa. All of these are standard inclusions when you buy a spa from Sapphire Spas, but let’s discuss numbers.
The three main energy uses for a spa are:
There are two main heating options offered by Sapphire Spas, these are the PowerSmart variable water heater available in either 3kW or 6kW depending on your spa or a heat and cool pump.
Heat and cool pumps are available in three power outputs, 5.5, 8.8 or 12kW, but because of their efficiency they only draw 1.1, 1.76 or 2.4kW respectively, when operating. With a spa heater typically operating for 10 minutes out of every hour (about 4 hours per day), this makes the total power use between 4.4 - 24kWh per day, depending on your heater choice. With an average cost of $0.30/kWh in Australia this will typically cost between $1.32 - $7.20 per day. It’s worth noting that even a 12kW heat pump will use less energy than the smallest Powersmart variable heater while delivering 4 times the energy output, meaning that it will run less often to maintain your spa at the same temperature.
Overall, the cost to heat your spa can vary wildly, most significantly depending on climate and the temperature you set your spa to. A spa set at 12-18 degrees will use much less power than one cranked up at 38-40 degrees. Depending on the heating option you choose and how you operate it, your heating cost could be as little as $0.35/day.
Filtration is something that has to be done even when the spa is not in use, the actual amount and frequency of filtration cycles don’t change much with use. However, the life of the filters and consumables generally will be affected by use frequency.
Regarding sanitization, a general rule of thumb is that a spa pool will require 4 to 6 hours a day and swim spas will require 6 to 8 hours per day. If power consumption is a concern, the Clearzone ozone sanitisation system only uses 0.14amps and runs off the low speed circulation pump which draws minimal electricity. Running the Clearzone system on a typical spa pool adds up to about 73kWh or just $22 per year (at $0.30/kWh).
When not in use your spa will use minimal power for daily filtration cycles and these cycles will be timed to match up with your heating and sanitization cycles so that the one pump operation can provide the flow needed for all functions.
The most major power use will be when operating your spa, most small spas will require just 15A to operate, with medium-size spas requiring 32A and swim spas and large spa pools requiring up to 45A. This means that when operating, your spa will use 3.6kWh, 7.7kWh or 10.8kWh. Depending on your local electricity cost, duration of use and whether you use your spa during on-peak or off-peak times your costs could be as little as $0.82/hr or up to $2.2/hr or more. Either way, that means for less than the cost of a cup of coffee you and the whole family can rest in tranquil bliss.
The final cost to consider is the cost of chemicals. This is one of the most variable costs of operating a spa as the size, cleanliness, water hardness, local environmental factors and use frequency all come into play.
First, be aware that a quality ozone sanitisation system like a Clearzone combined UV-C and ozone system will dramatically reduce the sanitiser requirement (by as much as 70%) but you will still need to add some sanitiser. For a typical spa pool of 1200L this means you will need about 1kg of pool chlorine per year, with a quality product costing $22/kg. You will also need test strips that will usually cost about $50/year when testing weekly, plus other chemicals as required to clean filter pods and maintain water balance. A ballpark figure of $150-$200 per year for testing and water maintenance chemicals will be sufficient for most spa users.
Our flagship spa, the myExtravagance offers an experience like no other. It easily fits six adults and is just over 2.3m square. This large amount of space is the perfect size to offer comfortable and relaxing seats for every person in the spa. This spa provides back and neck massages for five out of six seats. The sixth and final seat is a luxury like no other. This last seat is a recliner that offers a full body massage featuring 16 jets that has its own personal control panel can control.
What hasn’t been discussed in detail is what you can do to reduce costs. The first thing is to consider reducing power consumption. A good quality thermal spa cover can save up to 20% on heating costs, not to mention helping to keep your spa clean, and ready to use and saving you on the cost of cleaning chemicals and filters. A well-insulated spa cabinet can save up to a further 20% on heating costs also, which is a significant reduction in heating costs. Further, if you know you won’t use your spa during cold weather you can turn off your spa heater for several months of the year which will be a further notable reduction in energy consumption.
All Sapphire spas come with industry-leading control systems that are heat pump and gas compatible saving you up to 75% on heating costs. Further by utilising smart meter-compatible functions, you can save up to 30% by using off-peak power.
Failure to keep your spa clean can result in using excess chemicals to maintain your water quality, or even having to apply a ‘shock treatment’ to your water to regain balance if it gets out of control. In the worst cases, you may even need to do extra water changes which use a lot more water as well as requiring initial shock treatments to get their chemical balances in check.
Keeping your spa covered can prevent foreign contamination from entering the water and showering before you use your spa will help maintain water balance and reduce the need for replacing filters by keeping your spa free of excess oils and hair from users’ skin.
We’re not talking about reducing how often you use your spa. But by making sure you cover it after use and turning off the jets and bubblers when not in use you will save on the life of every part of the spa as well as drastically reduce energy consumption.
It is extremely difficult to provide a cost estimate that will cover all users at all times, you will likely see the cost of your spa go up in summer and down in winter. You may go through phases where you use it a lot and other times when you use it less. The truth is operating a spa can vary from less than $1/day to $5/day or more, depending on where you live and how you use your spa.
The best way to get an accurate idea of what a spa will cost you to run is to contact your local Sapphire Spas store. Your local store will be able to help you pick out the spa that suits you best, once you know which spa you like it will be easier to work out what it might cost you to run depending on your personal situation and use expectations. To find out how a spa could change your life, contact Sapphire Spas today.