Nearly three years ago now, Kim and I had a hot tub installed at our “country cottage”. I know some people consider hot tubs (and pools) to be foolish expenses, but that’s largely (I think) because most people don’t use them often enough to justify their cost. They get installed, then they become money pits.

I was worried about this too.

For a time after we had the hot tub installed, I tracked how much we were using it. I kept a spreadsheet log and found that we were averaging about three “people hours” per day in the thing before I stopped tracking numbers.

But I knew we’d get use out of the spa based on our existing habits.

Kim is a bath person. She likes to soak in the tub and watch her favorite shows. I’m a bath person too — and I always have been. When I was in grade school, I’d sit in the tub and read Hardy Boys books. When I had my own apartment in college, I’d spend hours in the tub reading comic books. And as an adult, this pattern has continued.

When Kris and I moved to our old house in 2004 (the same house where she currently lives), we remodeled the bathroom. As part of that, we put in a big, deep claw-foot tub. The tub saw a lot of use from both of us.

In the condo Kim and I had before we moved here, there was a big soaking tub in the master bathroom. We used it a lot. But the tub in this house? It’s just average. We used it (and still do) but it wasn’t any fun. At the same time, we have a gorgeous park-like back yard. (The back yard was the main selling feature for this place!) We knew when we purchased the place that we wanted to install a hot tub.

But do we still use the spa now, three years later? Yes. Yes, we do. We use it a lot.

Now that I’m logging how I spend my time, I can see just how much we actually use the spa. So far this year — and I know it’s just four days, but still — I’ve used the hot tub more than two hours per day. (And the bath tub nearly an hour per day.) That’s a lot of soaking!

What do I do while soaking? I read books and comics. I watch TV and movies. I write blog posts very slowly on the iPad. I play games. Or, sometimes, I put everything away and sit still, listening to the birds and the rain and the sounds of the neighborhood.

So, the hot tub has been a worthwhile expense for us. The initial outlay was large (several thousand dollars) and it costs maybe $20 or $30 per month to maintain the thing, but we probably get 1000 hours of use per year out of it. It’ll be a few years before our overall cost of ownership drops below one dollar per hour total, but I think that’ll happen.

The cats have learned to like the hot tub too. On especially cold days, they’ll sit on the closed spa cover, which tells me that the thing isn’t as well insulated as we might like. When the cover is open (and we’re sitting in the hot tub), the little beasts will hang out with us, sitting on the edge. It’s cute.

In fact, Savannah is very proud of herself because she has learned how to monkey up the decorative lattice-work at the edge of the tub. It’s pretty hilarious. Here’s a short video of her acrobatics.

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