Hot tubs or swimming pools: which are better?


Fact Box

  • Better Homes & Gardens categorizes six different kinds of outdoor swim options as above-ground pools, in-ground pools, infinity pools, lap pools, swim spas (a pool/hot tub hybrid), and of course, hot tubs and spas!    
  • Aqua Magazine and Platinum Pool Care estimate about 5 million in-ground pools in the United States, with 40% of them residing in California or Florida. 
  • Comfy Living estimates “17.12% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 own a hot tub, pool, or spa.”
  • As of 2014, the world’s largest residential pool was reported to be in El Campo, Texas, holding over 600,000 gallons of water, spanning three acres, and featuring six waterfalls along with a 21-foot slide.
  • Hot tubs are sometimes called “jacuzzis,” named after Roy Jacuzzi who popularized the “hydromassage” through his California Bay Area’s family business in the 1970s.
  • The White House has featured two swimming pools since the 1930s. An indoor pool was built for President Franklin Roosevelt, who used swim therapy to help aid his condition with polio. Then under President Gerald Ford in 1975 installed an outdoor pool as he was an avid swimmer.

Nic (Hot tubs)

The many benefits of hot tubs in comparison to pools cannot be overstated, as a soak in a hot tub isn't just relaxing. According to Harvard Medical School, saunas and hot baths can decrease blood pressure and increase the volume of blood pumped by the heart. Hot tubs offer a cardiovascular boost without having to swim laps to raise one's heart rate. 

Even more practical is the fact that hot tubs take up significantly less space than pools, a net benefit to space planning and maintenance costs. Small or large backyard, a hot tub will take up significantly less space than pools. Hot tubs also require less time, effort, and money to maintain. Pool chemicals, though, can cost up to $1,800.00 per year (or more if the pool is professionally cleaned); the average hot tub requires only $480.00 per year in chemical and electricity costs. 

Hot tubs offer the versatility of year-round use, while swimming pools aren't very practical in any area that experiences harsh winter weather. If it's 20°F and snowing outside, a hot tub sounds significantly more appealing than an icy pool. Hot tubs are also considerably cheaper to install than pools. In 2021, homeowners can expect to pay between $28,000.00 and $55,000.00 to build an in-ground pool. Meanwhile, hot tubs range from $2,000.00 to $18,000.00, depending on their size. Between the health benefits, low maintenance costs, year-round use potential, and price tag, it's clear hot tubs are superior to pools.

Veronica (Pools)

Since pools are larger than hot tubs, they can cater to various activities like exercise, play, socialization, competition, and therapy. There are no cannonballs, diving boards, or unicorn floats in a hot tub. The bigger size also means more friends and family can enjoy a pool at the same time, while most hot tubs only fit around six people.  

Everyone can use a pool, but hot tubs are too hot for children, pregnant women, pets, the elderly, and those with certain medical conditions. Higher temperatures can also make treatments like chlorine or sanitizers less effective, so hot tubs may use more chemicals (relative to their size) than pools. Due to the additional challenges in keeping them clean, hot tubs tend to be more high maintenance than pools. 

The warmer temperatures of a hot tub create a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. There are a number of nasty germs that love to hang out in hot tubs, including Legionella and the eponymous Hot Tub Rash and Hot Tub Lung. Due to the increased infection risk, hot tubs are usually not recommended for anyone with a suppressed immune system or an injury causing a skin break. 

Finally, even though they are more expensive upfront, pools can add value to a person's home and be a solid investment. People can even rent out their pool to bring in extra income or offset installation and maintenance costs. Who knows, maybe even an Olympian in need of a local pool could be knocking on your door. Some like it hot, but with the many opportunities pools afford, they clearly make the bigger splash.

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