Wood-burning vs Electric. What are the costs?
You know me, I love doing a bit of research. I also love relaxing in the hot tub, but they're not activities that generally go very well together. Although I do get a few blog ideas as I while away the hours in the tub.
I often wonder what our ancestors would think about a wood-fired hot tub. Maybe it wouldn't have been such a different process, because people would bathe in natural hot water springs. This would have then progressed to heating the water using a wood burning stove. Now of course, household hot water can be heated by all kinds of different fuels, including gas, electric and wood. But with fuel prices going up across Europe it raises that age-old question of 'wood-burner or electric'? And I'm not just talking about heating your home.
Difference between wood-burning and electric hot tubs
At Hot Tubs In France we only specialise in wood-burning Cotswold Eco Tubs. But even though we don’t offer electric hot tubs, we still get asked about them. I have never personally owned one but there is plenty of information online for me to make a fairly reasonable argument in favour of the wood-fired tub.
But I'll let you make up your own minds. Let's start with what the difference is between wood burning and electric heated tubs.
Four key factors
I'm going to base the comparison on our best-selling tub, the Burford Deluxe 6 seater. And what I think are the four key factors to consider when buying any hot tub. They were certainly important factors when we were looking to buy ours. Let me know if you think there is anything else that is more relevant for you.
Cost of the tub €5578,00. including installation and delivery. The air pumps and LEDs are optional so electric supply is not mandatory
Cost of the tub €7119.00 including delivery and installation. Extra cost for electrician setting up a supply if you don't already have one
Chemicals to keep water clean for 6 to 8 weeks. Set the fire and then clean the ashes from burner after use. Easy-to-clean fibre glass interior. Clean flue once or twice a year depending on use
Chemicals to keep water clean for 6 to 8 weeks. Easy-to-clean PVC interior.
Annual servicing (between €400 - €500) is recommended and needs to be done by an experienced technician, who inspects the electrical terminals, plumbing and the main components of the tub
cost of wood to heat
on average €7 per day or around €50 per week
Heat-up Time to reach 37 - 40°C
On average in the winter it can take 2-3 hours. But only around 1 - 1.5 hours in spring/autumn. Less time if you have an insulated lid as it keeps the water warmer for longer
A typical electric hot tub will heat up in between 8-15 hours.
Fuel price rises
Electric hot tub owners in the UK are going to be in for a massive shock (excuse the pun!) due to the energy price increases this year. Even in France, last year electricity prices quadrupled, so electric hot tub life is becoming a very expensive luxury. Although the French government have capped the energy price rise to 4% there is no guarantee that it won't go up after 2023.
A hot tub is a lifelong investment, so you don't want to be worrying about whether you will be able to afford to heat it - hot tubs should reduce stress, not create it!
The beauty of wood-fired tubs
With the Cotswold Eco Tub your water is heated entirely by wood, through a process called convection. As long as the wood is dry you can stoke the boiler with any type of wood. We recommend kindling to get it going, then increase the size of wood until you reach your desired temperature. Close the air vent on the boiler and you can maintain a comfortable temperature without adding any more wood. You can kickback and relax for at least 2 hours before the temperature of the water begins to drop. Often, if you are using the lightweight insulated cover the water is still warm enough to use the next day.
What our customers love is that they can use the stacks of wood which have been piled up for years in the barn or outbuildings. Some even have their own wooded area, or a local farmer who supplies it at a good price, ready cut.
Wood can be an environmentally-conscious fuel. The key is being responsible, sensible, and sustainable in your wood-burning practices. - Jacks Alt Stays
Electric supply optional
Obviously if you want the full on bubbling whirlpool bath experience with flickering LED lights then you will need to plug your Burford Deluxe into a standard electrical socket. Personally I do love the bubbles, but the LED lights and air pump massage system are optional and cost next to nothing to run. So you are not going to see a huge hike in your electric bill if you choose to use them.
We have some customers who don't use them at all because they prefer to listen to the birdsong and they have solar powered garden lights instead. It all sounds very romantic doesn't it? And actually there is nothing better than relaxing in a warm tub, looking up at a clear star-filled sky, with the only sound being the occasional flutter of an owl's wings overhead.
If you are considering buying a hot tub I hope this has helped. There is more information on our FAQ page. Better still if you need any more details just give me a call. We currently have several Burford, Winchcombe and Glyme tubs in stock and ready to be delivered. So in a few days you too could be enjoying a blissful bathing experience under the stars in your very own hot tub heaven!
And don't forget - we are on the road on Saturday 2nd April at La Libellule Gites in the Dordogne. Why not come along and see the beautiful Burford Deluxe in action? Happy Hot Tubbing!