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A spa tub can warm your backyard in winter

By Kathryn Weber
Tribune Content Agency

Say what you want about the kitsch of a hot tub, but ski resorts know there’s no better way to warm up and soothe aching muscles after a long day on the slopes.

Winter will likely be sticking around for a while, so why not fight the frosty monotony with a dip in your own heated backyard spa?

The benefits

Hot tubs can be useful for those who exercise frequently, and they can be used into the summer. The warm water can ease soreness. In fact, some people with arthritis have reported getting better relief from hot water than pain relievers. Relaxing in a hot tub can also be a way to wind down from a hectic day, and some say time in a hot tub can give you better, more restful sleep.

In some states, a physician can prescribe time in a hot tub as therapy for certain medical conditions. In Texas, a prescription will exempt the buyer from paying sales tax. Check with your health insurance carrier for details.

Hot tub or spa?

Among layman, spas are typically called hot tubs. Spas are a lot like cars; you can get them in models ranging from the most basic to designs with lights, stereo and massaging seats. Once upon a time, hot tubs were time-consuming to maintain but now often require less attention.

Where to buy

Your local spa retailer should be your first stop. Often, retailers can match prices offered on the Internet. If they can’t, find out whether the company will service your spa if you have problems. There are no bargains on the Internet if you can’t find someone to do repairs. Some hot tubs can be purchased, delivered and installed by the same company.

Make sure you understand exactly what the company will and won’t provide before buying a spa. It’s also essential to buy a hot tub cover. Splurge and get the lifting mechanism so removing the cover is easy. Another nice splurge? Lighting. You’ll be able to see better getting in or out of the spa.

If you plan to put a spa on your deck, double check before buying to make sure the unit you want is not too heavy. And think about how it will look. A hot tub doesn’t have to be a huge, bulky hunk of plastic. There are lots of ways to customize a spa to make it more attractive. Surrounded by landscaping or built into the deck, your hot tub can become a focal point. Consider adding a fire pit or fireplace nearby to create a cozy winter retreat.

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