There’s no scarier moment for a new homeowner than the first fall of snow, and the need for snow removal. His normally friendly driveway and walk way become treacherous carriers of ice and wet coldness that numb feet, paralyze travel and invite lawsuits. So he needs to remove it. There are primarily four methods of removing snow: by shovel, by service, by blower or by heater.
We’re taking it for granted that the homeowner is not a millionaire with a 900,000 BTU snow melting heater system installed in his driveway. Since that isn’t economically viable in these times, because an in - concrete heating system is a bear to operate and a polar bear when it comes to energy bills, that leaves him with shovel, blower or cell phone (to call a snowplow). None of the options, at least at first, is particularly appealing.
The snow blower runs on a small engine, gasoline powered, which isn’t terribly good at snow removal of a foot or more. It will take a small snow blower, working at peak efficiency, at least a fourth of a tank of gasoline to blow away the snow on one driveway. And the sad thing is, in terms of energy use, whether it is a foot of snow or a light dusting, the fuel invested in snow blowing is going to be about the same. That same fourth gallon will be used in a foot of snow or an inch. It’s not exactly efficient snow removal.
Consider the cell phone alternative: a call to the local snowplow service to come and remove snow from a driveway. This may be somewhat more energy efficient, but it certainly isn’t in terms of time or money. The professional snow plow will take at least an hour if not more to arrive; on a busy day with tons of snow, it may be all day getting to that particular driveway. Also, in order to plow the driveway efficiently, the car or cars that were previously in the driveway will need to be moved. And it will cost the homeowner upwards of $150 - $200 monthly for the plowing.
It’s true that in rural areas, snowplow service comes with the territory, and people pay a monthly fee that is much less to have the snowplow visit their country lane and clear it off. But in the city, the service is likely to be much less timely and much more expensive. It will be efficient snow removal, all right, but it will cost in hours and dollars. Even in the cost to the city, snowplows are inefficient; most big rigs that carry snowplows get very poor mileage, and they burn a gallon of fuel for every two clients they service.
Finally, there’s shoveling by hand. Oddly enough, of all the ways to remove snow, this is the most economical. And, unless one is advanced in years, it’s the healthiest method as well. A good solid shoveling of a driveway and walkway will take around an hour; it will burn some 800 calories, which is the caloric count of three donuts.
The snow blower will run between $750 and $1000 to purchase a good one, and it will last about ten years. The snowplow service is around $200 a month for the four good months of winter, so that’s $800 a year with no other costs. Or one could shovel the snow (the snow shovel is between $10 and $20) and save the price of both fuel and snow plow service on donuts (or just enjoy the burned calories).
Those are the methods of snow removal; it’s up to the homeowner to choose a personal best.