I never meant to be a hot tub owner. It just came with the house we bought. Luckily the tub was relatively new and in great condition. I hoped to keep it in great condition, so knowing nothing about hot tubs, I went to a local hot tub dealership and asked about what sort of chemicals I'd need. $50 later, I walked out to my car with bromine and a bunch of other stuff.
And the costs kept adding up... After a year, I'd figured that I spent about $400 dollars on chemicals and filters (keeping the hot tub running all year, even in the winter)...not including the power bill (which, by the way, is about 8 bucks a month in the summer and 12-15 in the winter).
After that first year I learned a few things too. I learned that I didn't like using the hot tub in the winter. WAY too COLD outside for me. I learned that it was a great swimming pool for the kids in the summer. I learned that I hesitated to use the hot tub because I didn't want to have to put more chemicals in it... because that meant I'd soon be having to buy more!
So my quest for a cheaper options was born. I stumbled across the option last year of using Bleach, Baking Soda and Borax (BBB) to maintain hot tub/spa/or swimming pool chemistry. At the time, our hot tub was winterized, but I resolved to give it a try once spring returned. And it's spring! And I tried it! And it works!
Here's what I did: I filled up the tub like usual. I have a 350 gal Jacuzzi J345... so it takes about an hour to fill. Once I got it full, decided to go ahead and put in some Bleach (perfume free). I didn't know how much to put in since I hadn't found any information that detailed online. So, I just put in 3 cups. That was plenty. Next time I refill, I'll start with two cups. I ran the jets awhile and waited for the tub to heat up. I then checked the PH. This is the important part: Get the PH adjusted before adding Borax since it's a buffer that will help the PH from creeping up when you try to adjust alkalinity. Our water's PH is typically high, so I had to add a few tablespoons (3) of PH decreaser (which I had on hand since I have such a plethora of chemicals!). If the PH were too low, I could have added baking soda at about a tablespoon at a time to get it where I needed it. Once the PH was adjusted, I added a couple tablespoons of Borax. I let the jets run a cycle and then went ahead and adjusted the alkalinity using baking soda, adding it at a tablespoon at a time until it was perfect.
It's been a month now of maintaining my hot tub with Bleach, baking soda, and borax. I'm soooo happy with it. Why? Mostly price. I'm not a chemical snob so I don't care that I'm using chlorine in instead of bromine. Every couple of days (or after each use) I have to add about 2 tablespoons of Bleach to keep the choline at the right level. That's it, chemical-wise. The PH and alkalinity have stayed steady. I'm a much happier hot tub owner now.