A fresh smattering of snow may be welcome in the early months of winter, but as February and March approach, and you’re still spending each morning with a shovel or snow plow, you may find yourself wishing you had installed a heated driveway that doesn’t require a daily dig-out.
Here are some insights you can use to survive a Midwest winter — and tips for deciding if a heated driveway is a worthwhile investment.
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Heated driveway: The basics
Shoveling a snow-covered driveway at 5 a.m. is not something that most homeowners look forward to. What if there was a way to enjoy the winter wonderland without that early morning shovel or plow?
A heated driveway is the winter dream-come-true of most Midwest homeowners — but are they really worth it? Let’s dive into the price and functionality of a heated driveway.
It can cost $14-$24 per square foot for a heated driveway to be installed by a professional contractor. Keep in mind, you’ll also have to budget an allowance for the electricity bills to keep the operation going throughout the winter months.
However, this addition could eliminate the burden of shoveling or the cost of hiring snow removal help. For some homeowners, these benefits outweigh the costs of heated driveway installation and operation.
Driveways are heated to the temperature needed to melt falling snow. When snowflakes fall on your driveway, they’ll melt away instead of piling up. A driveway can be heated in two ways:
- The electric current generates heat on a wire or through a mat, similar to indoor floor heating.
- Tubes and pumps move hot water beneath the surface of the driveway to warm it up.
You may be wondering: What happens to all the melted snow? Does it clog up the storm drains or create ice blocks at the end of the driveway? Typically this doesn’t happen. Heated driveways are built to evaporate snow that hits the surface. If the heated driveway is running properly, no ice blocks should form.
Heated driveways work faster to remove accumulation from small snowfalls, but they can endure the “snowmageddons” that come with life in the Midwest, too. Just remember, the speed that the snow is removed depends on the amount of snow, temperature and wind conditions — when these elements are more severe, the snow removal time will increase.
More winter advice
If you aren’t ready to invest in a heated driveway, cheaper alternatives do exist to survive a snowy winter. Here are four winter weather tips for your household.
1. Sidewalk melt mats offer a more affordable way to remove snow from designated sections on the driveway. You can create a walking path with the mats to melt the snow where you typically walk. This is especially helpful for homeowners selling their houses in the winter, as they can avoid having to come home to shovel before every showing.
2. Plenty of old-school options still exist, too. To avoid shoveling the driveways and walkways yourself, consider hiring a neighbor or a service. Just be sure to negotiate the plow to come early in the day so your driveway is clear before you have to drive off to work.
3. Heated shoe insoles can be a great low-cost option if you’re stuck on shoveling duty for good.
4. To keep yourself upright as you dig out, you may want to look into spiky shoe attachments that help you keep traction on even the slipperiest driveways and walkways. YakTrax is one reputable brand.
5. Remote car starters are another smart investment for winter. Avoid getting into a chilly car at home, after work, or while you’re out running holiday errands by adding a remote car starter to your key fob.
What happens next?
Ready to sell your home and head for Florida, where there are no winters to endure? Or are you hoping to buy a house with an already-installed heated driveway? No matter what you’re planning for next, we can help.
If you’re interested in more homeowner tips, head over to News and Insights you can find up-to-date ideas for homeowners who want to update their house, sell this winter or are just trying to survive a long winter indoors.