The 411 on labels: This sample label depicts the information that 
manufacturers will need to provide for their spas. The labels will 
indicate how an individual spa’s energy efficiency rate compares with 
all other spas. In the example shown, 192 watts falls in a range of 
power ratings.
Courtesy APSP
The 411 on labels: This sample label depicts the information that manufacturers will need to provide for their spas. The labels will indicate how an individual spa’s energy efficiency rate compares with all other spas. In the example shown, 192 watts falls in a range of power ratings.

The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals has updated its hot tub efficiency standard.

The move comes in response to a request last year from the California Energy Commission to update the standard, which was originally published in 2011.

The new version includes several changes to the ANSI/APSP/ICC-14 Standard for Portable Electric Spa Energy Efficiency. The most significant one was the creation of a label that works similarly to the EPA fuel efficiency labels found on cars at sales lots.

The label displays the energy efficiency of the specific hot tub, as well as its rating compared with all other hot tubs.

“We convinced [the California Energy Commission] that we need to look at an individual spa in a label compared to all spas, and not just ones within a genre,” said Angelo Pugliese Sr., the senior project engineer at CMP in Newnan, Ga., and head of the ANSI/APSP/ICC-14 committee.

With the new labeling, portable spas will be compared with all others rather than just those made of the same materials.

The committee also updated the formulas for determining the new ratings to compensate for an imbalance in the way smaller and larger spas were treated.

“If I go to the fair or the home show, [the hot tubs] say that they are efficient, but they’re not,” said Tuan Ngo, a mechanical engineer at the CEC who worked with APSP. “We need to [create] a better label.”

According to Pugliese, the old formula favored large spas, indicating that they were more efficient than smaller ones, which isn’t always the case. In determining energy efficiency, the formulas take into consideration water volume, as well as the total energy used. But the old formula didn’t account for the baseline amount of energy needed to filter and sanitize the water, regardless of the unit’s size.

Smaller spas were punished because energy use was distributed over the number of gallons. So as the volume of the spas went up, the energy use for filtration and sanitation didn’t mean as much.

The new formula accounts for this by factoring in a base level of energy use. The rating gains more of a bell curve with the new formula. “It gives a little more room to the small spas and makes the regulations for larger spas tighter,” Pugliese added.

One more note: The new label indicates which covers were used during testing of the hot tubs. The idea is to protect manufacturers and consumers by showing which covers work best with a particular spa.

“When you have to replace the cover, [we’re] saying you need to get the same cover or something equal to this,” Pugliese said.

The CEC helped spur the update because California uses a mixture of APSP-14: 2011 and the state’s Title 20 regulations to address energy efficiency in appliances.

“The CEC is effectively a member of the [APSP-14] committee,” said Mike McCague, a compliance engineer at Watkins Manufacturing. “We [made] sure we were tracking California standards and all the states that have adopted California’s laws.”

California might not add the code until next year at the earliest because the drought has taken precedence, Ngo said.

The changes only affect states or municipalities that update their codes to include the new edition, called APSP-14 2014. The 2018 version of the International Swimming Pool & Spa Code also will contain the language.

This doesn’t mean states aren’t encouraged to use the new standard now.