Hi! Brand new to the boards here, and I signed up specifically to research using an inflatable hot tub in the winter. My wife and I really hate the cold winters here in the Chicagoland area. So much so, that we were going to move to Florida. Significant logistical issues prevented the move. So, we are stuck dealing with Chicago winters for the foreseeable future. With this in mind, my wife and I have decided on a new tact: do whatever we can to change our outlook on winters and make an attempt to actually enjoy them rather than miserably tolerate them. We've been reading up on the Danish concept of "hygge" and are going to try implementing some elements of coziness into our winter routine to help keep our minds off the more unpleasant aspects of the season.
One of the main things my wife really wants to do is get an inflatable hot tub to use outside for when the temps really start to plummet. We have grandiose visions of being able to enjoy the pretty, falling snow while soaking and relaxing in a nice, hot, steaming tub!
The only problem is that I have no idea where to begin when it comes to owning and operating a hot tub; even a small, cheap (compared to full-sized installations), inflatable one. We have a decent size wooden deck off the back of our house, but I have no idea how to determine if it could support the weight of a hot tub and its occupants. I don't think I'd want to chance it. So, that means putting in our yard somewhere, hopefully as close to the house as possible so we don't have to walk too far in the frigid temps. That would mean clearing out an area, leveling the ground, installing a level insulated base, running a heavy-duty extension cord, and all sorts of other logistical considerations. Then there's everything you need to do to operate and maintain a hot tub through the winter. I know nothing of any of that!
We have been looking at the Canadian Spa Company's "Grand Rapids" inflatable spa specifically because it is advertised as a four-season hot tub suitable for use during the winter. Does anyone have experience with one of these hot tubs? Do you use it throughout the winter? Especially in the dead cold of winter when the temps can drop into the single digits or negative (°F) for stretches at a time? I'm trying to determine if this specific hot tub (or any other) really will be usable through the winter. Any tips, tricks, or advice for keeping the water warm/hot without the electric bill rocketing a couple hundred dollars? What about maintenance tasks for a hot tub in the winter; how do you handle those? What do you do to make it easier and more convenient to actually use the tub in the frigid winter? Do you just make a mad dash out to the tub in your swimsuits, then run back inside when your done, and wait to cover up with towels/robes once your back inside? Or do you have some way of having your towels/robes handy as soon as you get out of the tub (assuming the robes haven't frozen stiff in the meantime)?
In addition to any comments, opinions, and advice on the inflatable hot tubs, themselves, would anyone also be willing to point me to resources about owning and maintaining a hot tub through the winter? I'm trying to determine how much it is going to cost to buy and set up a decent inflatable hot tub, but also how much it is going to cost to run and maintain it (electricity, chemicals, accessories, etc.). I want to make my wife happy as this is the one main thing she wants to help make winters more bearable. I want to make sure I go into this with realistic expectations of what everything will cost and what I will need to do to ensure years of steamy, winter hot tubbing! Thanks!