Saving The Planet?

Managing our available resources should be a concern of each of us. Without getting on a bandwagon, it just makes sense to me to get the most out of what we have. Recently, some laws have been passed in an attempt to regulate energy waste. Unfortunately for the spa industry the timing could not have been worse. In an market funded entirely on discretionary dollars, any perception of negative economic trends has a profound effect. So when California passed laws focused specifically on spa industry, forcing it to upgrade pump motors and meet strict energy use limitations, it hit hard. Sort of like using a baseball bat to turn off a light switch.

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for energy conservation. But no one wants their industry to be the target. Still I can see the point. According to the study used to justify the law, the energy used just to heat the spas in California alone requires the entire output of a nuclear power plant each year. Say it with me, Shocking.

Leveling the scrutiny of engineers on the single largest energy consuming appliance in the home (three times more than your fridge) they singled out the pump motor. The powers that be (sorry) determined that an upgrade in motor would reduce energy used starting the pump in motion. I am sure that they spent the next few days patting themselves on the back.

Let us think about applying the same logic to some other areas. If you want to improve your cars gas mileage you could keep the windows rolled up. Not what you expected, right? Still, it would make a difference. Just keep the windows rolled all the way up, all the time. When they designed that car body, the designers went to a lot of trouble to make it the most aerodynamically efficient shape they could. The mileage estimates they posted on the window when it was new were all based on the most efficient configuration and that meant windows up. Maybe we should pass a law that no new car can be sold that has windows that could be rolled down. We could probably save enough gas per year that we could stop importing it from the middle east.

But some people really like to drive around with one arm resting with the elbow out the open window. I doubt it would go over well if we passed a law restricting window opening. My point is just this, if the target is to improve mileage focusing on window use may not have the biggest effect on future product development. To relate this to spas, perhaps a better direction would be to place a limit on the amount of total energy used by the spa. Better yet, posted energy used per year on each model and rebates for buying the best rated units.

Let the spa manufacturers develop their products in different directions. Independently, one manufacturer may focus on the pump motor while another targets Spa Covers with the best insulation. Still other manufacturers may convert their spa to run on alternative energy.

As we all progress toward planet consciousness renewable resources and conservation I think we can learn from history. Prohibition has left us a legacy of organized crime. If we outlaw hot tubs, only outlaws will have hot tubs.

Nicole Thomas

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