There are some energy efficient hot tubs but these are only efficient relative to other hot tubs. On the whole, hot tubs are luxury items and a very energy hungry ones at that. The average indoor insulated 4 person hot tub uses 162 kWh a month, the average outdoor insulated uses 594 kWh per month. That is about the same energy usage as a large refrigerator (155kWh) which is usually a necessary item. Compare that to the average energy usage of a 42-50″ plasma TV (45 kWh/month). Heating water is a very inefficient and wasteful process, so doing it purely for recreation is inherently inefficient.
Hot tubs today indeed have energy efficiency potential. Technological advances in hot tubs include control systems that have the ability to heat hot tub water to a specific temperature during preset time periods. It’s usually referred to as an “economy” setting. Since heat rises, the hot tub cover is the most significant energy saving option. Regularly cleaning the filters will also help conserve energy.
In the sense that they are a luxury, no. Anything that consumes resources (energy, hot water) and isn’t necessary, is not efficient. If you must have one, there are some companies that are greener than others, such as this one: http://www.hotspring.com/About_Hot_Spring_Spas/green_energy_efficient_spas.html
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