Decorating & Design - Outdoor Living

Purchasing a hot tub

Consider the following points before taking the plunge and buying a new hot tub.

Relax amid swirling waters...in summer and winter! If you're toying with the idea of purchasing a hot tub for your backyard, there are a few things you should know before you jump in.

WHAT TO CONSIDER
Advantages

Hot tubs have become increasingly popular -- with good reason. First, unlike swimming pools, they can be used year-round, thus giving you a better return on your investment. What's more, because a hot tub doesn’t have to be closed for the winter (unless you're unable to maintain it), you'll save on pool starter and closing kits. There are other advantages. A hot tub takes up less space and requires less maintenance than a swimming pool, and it can easily be moved. As well, a permit isn't required to install one, nor is it necessary to build a fence around it. All you have to do is lock up the cover when the hot tub is not in use. And last, but certainly not least, the hot tub is a haven of peace: It promotes relaxation, offers all of the benefits of hydrotherapy and, with its therapeutic qualities, it can be a boon to people with back pain and sore muscles.

Disadvantages
Conversely, a hot tub will drive up your winter hydro bill by one to three dollars per day, and the children won’t have as much fun as they would in a swimming pool. Also, its hot water (between 35°C and 40°C) will offer no relief during a heat wave. That’s not even mentioning the cost: between $5,000 and $15,000 compared to just over $3,000 for an above-ground swimming pool measuring 21 feet in diameter.

Size
Hot tubs come in a variety of sizes designed to accommodate anywhere from 2 to 10 people. Before selecting a size, though, it's important to consider the space you have available and to determine where you intend to place the unit. As well, consult your municipality and your insurer to find out how much distance is required between the hot tub and both the house and the edge of the property.

Then you'll want to think about how much space you need to be comfortable. How many people will be using it at the same time? Do you intend to soak solo, with a significant other, as a family or with friends? A word of advice: You're better off basing your choice on its actual use than its potential use. In general, a five-person unit will suffice to accommodate a family and, occasionally, friends.

Your needs
Choose a hot tub that suits your tastes, needs and lifestyle. Will it be used to socialize, relax and re-energize or soothe aching muscles? In the first two instances, a 20-jet hot tub should be more than enough -- better yet, it won’t be too loud. In the latter case, a minimum of 30 jets is needed to massage your body from the tips of your toes to the nape of your neck. If you suffer from back pain, opt for one with jets pointed toward the length of the spine. Note that pregnant women and people with heart conditions are advised to avoid hot tubs. The number of seats should also be taken into account. In general, a five- or six-person model is recommended. Each place is outfitted with jets meant to massage specific parts of the body, and the user will have to sit in every place to obtain a total body massage. A four-person hot tub features fewer jets, and as a result its massage won't be quite as complete.

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