Solar-heated, reclaimed hot tub

We didn't have champagne on hand so we shared a glass of wine to toast the tub
We didn’t have champagne on hand so we shared a glass of wine to toast the tub

I told you about Dave the Father-in-Law. Well, I also call him Miracle Worker. He has a few hundred projects in his head at any given time and many of them seem impossible until he finishes them and they seem like the most natural things in the world.

Today was one of those days.

A few years ago he obtained a free hot tub. He told us where he wanted to put it and we would joke about what number it was on his to do list.

Every so often he would give us an update or we would help with some small aspect. Julie the Mother-In-Law gave herself tendinitis helping mix and pour the concrete for the quite large pad on which it sits.

Last week there appeared a large solar hot water heating pad on the front deck and water was running from the well, through it, and into the tub. We wondered how much Dave would have to supplement the solar heat with the tub’s built-in water heater.

The hot tub hut is taking shape off the side of the sundeck. The sun is behind the trees now, but the water remains hot.
The hot tub hut is taking shape off the side of the sundeck. The sun is behind the trees now, but the water remains hot.

No problem. When we dipped our toes into it for the first time after dinner last night, the thermometer read 43 degrees Celsius (110 degrees Fahrenheit). Lowering myself in reminded me immediately of the Japanese onsens Leanne and I remember fondly. It took a while for the kids to get used to the heat and they didn’t stay in long. Hot! It felt great for my lower back pain.

This was one of the hottest days of the year and the sun had been beating down on those solar units for a few similar days as the water was circulating. It is pretty awesome to witness.

Dave pointed out that there was nothing to stop the sun from boiling the water in the tub except covering the panels.IMG_8724

The hot tub was free. The solar heater was free but needed repair so Dave bought some parts and patched it up. He and Julie built the pad. Once the shelter is finished he will have a the ultimate affordable and sustainable hot tub.

Miracle Worker!

Oh, and what about those winter months when the sun is not so hot? Aside from the built-in water heater (so conventional and unsustainable) Dave has a plan to build a wood-burning water heater.

Well, when your backyard is a forest, why not? The in-laws take their role as forest stewards seriously and sometimes that means removing trees that have fallen or are going to fall. Lots of free wood.

With these inspiring people in out lives, how can we plan a renovation without taking advantage of all the technologies available to reduce our home’s environmental footprint?

Dave plans to put the water heater panels on the roof under the photovoltaic panels
Dave plans to put the water heater panels on the roof under the photovoltaic panels

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James Rowley

James lives in Maple Ridge, BC, Canada with his amazing partner, Leanne Koehn, and their two amazing kids in their beautiful house. He studied Science and English Literature at the University of British Columbia where he met Leanne. He also studied acting for a while at Studio 58 in Vancouver. He works as a teacher of English and curriculum writer for new Canadians.

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