Can a Hot Tub Be Used Cold? (4 Hacks to Faster Cooling)


Bathing in cold water has benefits that range from reducing inflammation, muscle spasms, and pain all the way to aiding weight loss and lifting your mood. So you might well ask whether your hot tub is able to be used with cold water?

Hot tubs can be used cold by turning the temperature down on the digital control display pad. Most hot tub models are able to operate at 80°F (26°C), so long as the ambient temperature isn’t higher. Two hot tub manufacturers use special water chillers to lower the temperature to 60°F (15°C) no matter the ambient temperature.

Unfortunately, lowering the temperature isn’t always as easy as just turning the dial down. But the good news is that there are a number of hacks that’ll get your water lovely and cool in no time.

Using your hot tub without heat

Despite the belief that a hot tub can only be used with warm water, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Hot tubs make a more practical alternative to pools, which can be very costly to run and maintain.

Although you won’t be able to swim in your hot tub for obvious reasons, you get the best of both worlds in that you can enjoy the tub both cold and hot.

Another advantage of a hot tub over a pool is its insulation. Once you’ve settled on a cooler temperature that you find enjoyable, your hot tub is able to maintain that temperature economically.

In order to use your hot tub at cooler temperatures, it’s important to never cut the power to the hot tub. Power is needed to run the pump, which is necessary for circulating the water through the filters.

Water needs to continually flow through the filters to avoid a build-up of bacteria. While you should never cut the power, it is possible to turn off the heater by opening the side of the hot tub. But only do so if you feel confident enough in what you’re doing.

Many homeowners are also investing in swim spas. These look like oversized hot tubs, but they allow you to swim continuously against a current of water.

There’s more information on swim spas at the end of this article, but let’s now take a closer look at the fastest way to cool the water in your hot tub.

How to cool your hot tub fast

I’ve found that the following 4 methods are the fastest ways to cool the water in a hot tub, even when the ambient temperature is very high.

1. Turn the temperature dial down

The quickest and easiest way to lower the temperature inside your hot tub is by using the temperature dial on the control pad. The minimum temperature for most hot tubs is 78 – 80°F (25 – 26°C)

An alternative to this is using modes such as standby, sleep, or economy, which reduce heating cycles and drop the temperature by around 20°F (7°C).

While these modes are intended to save on energy, they make it easy for you to quickly drop the temperature by a greater amount than if you were to continue using standard mode.

Whenever you lower the temperature in your hot tub, make sure to turn the jets on. The jets circulate the water evenly around the hot tub. which cools the water down more quickly.

Ambient temperature and temperature control

If you live in a very hot area of the country, there is one major issue when using the temperature dial. Typically, hot tubs are designed to raise the temperature, not cool it.

Because they’re more efficient at raising temperatures, the majority of hot tubs just aren’t capable of reducing the temperature below ambient temperature.

For example, if you’re looking to reduce the temperature in your hot tub to 85°F (29°C), but the ambient temperature outside is 95°F (35°C), you won’t be able to drop the temperature below 95°F.

However, there are a few hot tubs on the market that come with special water chillers that get the temperature as low as 60°F (15°C), regardless of the weather conditions. More on those toward the end of this post.

But don’t despair, there are a few “hacks” you can use to get the temperature of the water down below ambient temperature.

2. Add ice

To get that temperature down on the hottest days, make use of ice. It doesn’t do any harm to your hot tub and will rapidly lower the temperature.

Depending on the size of your hot tub, you’ll probably need to use quite a bit, which could be a waste of money if you’re not able to produce the ice yourself.

Another issue is that when you introduce ice into the water, you’ll have to adjust the chemicals to ensure that your water hasn’t become unbalanced.

But there is one excellent way to cool your hot tub using ice that is inexpensive and won’t have you tearing your hair out trying to balance the chemical levels in your water.

If you have a large chest freezer, you can fill 3 or 4 empty gallon milk jugs with water and freeze them. Put them into the hot tub 15 or so minutes before you want to use it, and you’ll soon notice the water cool down by several degrees.

You could either leave the milk jugs inside the hot tub while you soak, or you can pop them back into the freezer for the next time before getting in.

3. Remove the cover

It seems a little daft to mention this, but we all do stuff without thinking about what we’re doing as we’re creatures of habits.

You can dramatically speed up the cooling process by leaving the cover either partially or entirely off.

Ideally, you’ll want to leave it off entirely. But if you’re worried about any dirt or debris making its way into the water, then it’s probably best to leave it partially covered.

4. Use a hot tub umbrella

Another simple way to keep the sun from warming your water is to make use of a hot tub umbrella like these onesOpens in a new tab. on Amazon. These are especially useful on days when it’s particularly warm. All these little things add up to make a real difference.

You can easily find umbrellas for under $100, but they do go up to several hundred in price. For a more economical alternative, consider buying one of these inexpensive sun shade canopiesOpens in a new tab. from Amazon.

Water chillers

Some recent innovations in the hot tub world mean that you can now turn your hot tub into a cold tub.

Hot tub water chillers work in a similar way to your air conditioning system. The difference is that the water is cooled by way of refrigeration in the plumbing instead of through an air vent used in an HVAC system.

Two hot tub companies are pioneering the way with their water cooling systems that allows you to effortlessly lower (and raise) the temperature inside your hot tub.

Hotspring Spas and Caldera Spas

Watkins Wellness, the owner of well-known hot tub brands Hotspring Spas and Caldera Spas, offers a cooling system known as CoolZone. The technology behind CoolZone provides working temperatures between 60-104°F (15-40°C).

If you’re fortunate to own one of their hot tubs, then the great news is that CoolZone can be added to most hot tubs and spas in their range.

Atera Spas

Atera Spas is a company from Phoenix, AZ, whose technology was born out of the need for cooler hot tub temperatures for relaxing in the hot desert sun.

The technology is known as AnyTemp, which is able to achieve a temperature range of between 62-104°F (16-40°C) using the control pad as you would on any other hot tub.

The best thing about this technology is that you don’t have to worry one bit about the ambient temperature outside. No matter how hot it is, the hot tub is able to efficiently maintain your desired temperature.

This is all possible because of its powerful 6000 BTU water chiller that is able to reduce the temperature by 2°F (1°C) per hour. Unlike the external system that Hotspring Spas and Caldera Spas use, Atera Spa’s AnyTemp system is contained within the walls of the hot tub, so there’s no unsightly machine to look at.

What is a swim spa?

Swim spas, also known as endless pools, have all the benefits of a hot tub combined with a swimming pool. Entry-level models are more expensive than budget hot tubs, but they make a great alternative to costly swimming pools.

You get all the therapeutic benefits of a normal hot tub as well as a jet (or propulsion) system that creates a current of water, providing resistance for exercise.

Most people enjoy swim spas for swimming. Once the current has been set to your speed, you’ll be able to swim in place, much like jogging on the spot.

And talking of jogging, you can also use the current to walk, jog, or cycle against. There are so many benefits to exercising in water, especially for the elderly or overweight suffering from joint pains.

Just like a normal hot tub, they come with adjustable massage jets if you just want to relax and can be used year-round with water temperatures ranging between 80 and 104°F (26 – 40°C).

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