Are Outdoor Saunas Expensive to Run? (Comprehensive Guide)

Saunas have been popular for centuries for their relaxation and therapeutic benefits.

While indoor saunas are a common sight, outdoor saunas have gained traction in recent years.

A significant question people often ask is, “Are outdoor saunas expensive to run?”

In this article, we’ll explore the factors that influence the running cost of outdoor saunas, how to reduce these costs, and whether investing in one is worth it.

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Factors Influencing the Running Cost of Outdoor Saunas

The cost of running an outdoor sauna depends on various factors.We’ll discuss these factors below.

Type of Sauna

Outdoor saunas come in two main types: traditional and infrared.Traditional saunas use a heat source like a wood-burning stove, electric heater, or gas heater, while infrared saunas use infrared panels to heat the body directly.In general, infrared saunas consume less energy, making them less expensive to run.

Energy Source


Electric saunas are the most common type of sauna, using an electric heater to warm the space. The running cost of an electric sauna depends on the local electricity rates and the heater’s efficiency. Electric saunas usually have lower operating costs compared to gas and wood-fired saunas.


Gas-powered saunas use propane or natural gas as their primary heat source. 

While gas heaters can heat a sauna more quickly than electric heaters, they tend to have higher operating costs due to fluctuating gas prices and the need for gas line installation.


Wood-fired saunas use wood-burning stoves to heat the space. 

While wood can be a cost-effective fuel source in some regions, wood-fired saunas usually have higher running costs due to the manual labor involved in loading wood and maintaining the fire.

Size of the Sauna

The larger the sauna, the more energy it requires to maintain the desired temperature.

Consequently, larger saunas are more expensive to run. 

It’s essential to choose a sauna size that fits your needs without consuming excess energy.


Proper insulation can significantly reduce heat loss and lower energy consumption.Insulated walls, ceilings, and doors are crucial in maintaining a consistent temperature, minimizing the running costs.

Location and Climate

Where you live and the local climate can impact your sauna’s running costs.Colder regions may require more energy to heat the sauna, while warmer regions may require less. Moreover, a well-sheltered location can help reduce heat loss, lowering operational costs.

Calculating the Cost of Running an Outdoor Sauna

To calculate the cost of running an outdoor sauna, you’ll need to consider several factors, including the cost of energy in your area, the size of your sauna, and how frequently you use it.

On average, the cost of running a traditional sauna for an hour can range from $1 to $3, depending on the size of the sauna and the energy cost in your area. 

Infrared saunas are typically less expensive, costing between $0.30 and $0.50 per hour.

Ways to Reduce Running Costs

There are several ways to minimize the costs of operating an outdoor sauna:

Energy-Efficient Heaters

Investing in an energy-efficient heater, like an electric or infrared heater, can help reduce running costs.Look for heaters with an energy star rating to ensure efficiency.

Proper Insulation

Ensuring your sauna is well-insulated can help maintain a consistent temperature and reduce energy consumption. 

This includes insulating the walls, ceiling, and doors, as well as using weather stripping to seal any gaps.

Regular Maintenance

Keeping your sauna clean and well-maintained can improve energy efficiency. 

Perform regular checks on heaters, ventilation systems, and seals to ensure they are working efficiently.

Replace any worn or damaged components promptly to prevent energy wastage.

Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats can help you control your sauna’s temperature more accurately and save energy.

These devices can be programmed to heat your sauna only when in use and maintain an energy-efficient temperature when idle.

Comparing Outdoor Sauna Costs to Other Amenities

When considering the running costs of an outdoor sauna, it’s important to compare them to other home amenities.

For example, a hot tub or swimming pool may also provide relaxation and therapeutic benefits but could have higher operational costs due to water usage, heating, and maintenance.

In comparison, an outdoor sauna may offer similar benefits at a lower running cost, making it a more cost-effective choice for some homeowners.

Making the Decision

Ultimately, the decision to invest in an outdoor sauna depends on your personal preferences, budget, and the factors discussed above.

Consider the running costs, potential savings, and the value it adds to your home and well-being. Weigh the pros and cons before making your decision.


Outdoor saunas can be a fantastic addition to your home, providing relaxation and health benefits.

While they do have associated running costs, these expenses can be managed through energy-efficient heaters, proper insulation, regular maintenance, and smart thermostats.

By considering the factors influencing these costs, you can make an informed decision about whether an outdoor sauna is the right choice for you.


  1. Are infrared saunas cheaper to run than traditional saunas? Yes, infrared saunas typically consume less energy than traditional saunas, making them more cost-effective to run.
  2. How can I minimize heat loss in my outdoor sauna? Proper insulation, weather stripping, and a sheltered location can help reduce heat loss, lowering your sauna’s running costs.
  3. How does the size of the sauna affect running costs? Larger saunas require more energy to maintain the desired temperature, making them more expensive to run. Choose a sauna size that fits your needs without consuming excess energy.
  4. Do outdoor saunas require more energy to run in colder climates? Yes, outdoor saunas in colder climates may require more energy to heat, increasing running costs. Proper insulation and a sheltered location can help mitigate these expenses.
  5. Can a smart thermostat help reduce the running costs of my outdoor sauna? Yes, a smart thermostat can help you control your sauna’s temperature more accurately, saving energy by heating the sauna only when in use and maintaining an energy-efficient temperature when idle.

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