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Watt’s Next?

Responding to energy efficiency standards and restrictions

In the world of hot tubs, the issue of energy consumption has become a growing concern for both retailers and consumers. As the Department of Energy reevaluates its oversight of hot tub regulations, the industry is at a crossroads, facing potential energy restrictions that could impact the way spas are used and sold. With over five million U.S. households owning spas, finding a balance between energy efficiency and a satisfying hot tub experience is crucial.

Energy regulations and industry concerns

In September 2022, the DOE designated portable electric spas as covered consumer products under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. This move was prompted by the average U.S. household energy use for portable electric spas exceeding 100-kilowatt hours per year. The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance has been advocating for the adoption of APSP-14, a nationwide standard setting a minimum threshold for energy efficiency in hot tubs and swim spas.

California, a trendsetter in energy regulations, adopted the first standard for portable electric spas in 2004, setting limits on energy consumption for maintaining temperature and water circulation. Other states, including Connecticut, Oregon, Arizona, and Washington, followed suit in subsequent years. In 2014, the American National Standard Institute approved APSP-14, an industry standard for portable electric spa efficiency. The standard, updated in 2019, ensures consistent testing procedures, third-party verification and validation.

The Appliance Standards Awareness Project estimates that adhering to the 2019 standard could save 23 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity by 2035, preventing the emission of 8.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide — equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions of over 1.8 million cars.

Maximizing energy efficiency in hot tubs

Manufacturers like Master Spas focus on maximizing energy efficiency by optimizing insulation. Nathan Coelho, vice president of engineering at Master Spas, explains that they explore the latest insulation technologies to achieve the highest R-value (insulation’s ability to resist heat transfer) for their spas. Balancing customer needs, energy regulations and product serviceability is a continuous consideration.

Jacuzzi, committed to improving energy efficiency, conducts rigorous testing using an on-site certified CEC chamber. Erica Moir, vice president of product marketing, emphasizes their dedication to exploring new materials and solutions for enhanced energy efficiency.

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Energy-saving tips for hot tub owners

For hot tub owners, energy conservation begins at home. David Kasten, operations manager at California-based Creative Energy, advises setting the hot tub temperature once and minimizing adjustments. “Set it and forget it — unless you are going on an extended vacation,” he says.  Installing solar panels on the roof, exploring battery backups and using natural gas generators are additional suggestions to offset energy consumption.

Coelho stresses the importance of regulating air controls to maintain consistent spa temperatures. Turning off air controls prevents the injection of cold air into the water, reducing the need for additional energy.

Long-term cover maintenance is essential. Coelho advises customers to always maintain the spa covers and monitor the weight of the cover. “Over time, the covers will start to get heavier, meaning they are starting to become less efficient,” he says.

Moir highlights the role of automation in energy savings, pointing to Jacuzzi’s SmartTub App, which personalizes usage schedules, manages heating and filter cycles and includes smart sensors for cover status.

Balancing comfort and conservation

As the hot tub industry grapples with energy concerns and potential regulations, a delicate balance between providing a comfortable hot tub experience and embracing energy efficiency is crucial. Manufacturers, retailers and consumers must work together to navigate this evolving landscape, ensuring the longevity and sustainability of the hot tub industry.

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