The End of Shoveling?

Posted by: Elise Stern, Created date: February 23, 2013

Welcome to Technology in Residence, a new series of blog posts about high-end technologies that will increase your enjoyment of your home – and its value if and when you decide to sell. We’ll be looking at everything from home monitoring systems to green solutions to reduce your home’s carbon footprint. But since we’re starting this series in the winter, today’s post is about how more ways to fend off Jack Frost.

What if you never had to shovel your driveway again — and you never had to pay someone to do it, either? If this sounds like a dream come true, you may be interested in learning about heated driveways.

You’ve probably heard of radiant heated floors — floors with an element beneath the surface that can be synced with a thermostat or a timer, making short work of chilly tile or hardwood floors on winter mornings. The same technology can now be applied to driveways and patios, making them safer for both the car and the spine. Moreover, a heated driveway can add value to your home later on. And in the case of steep driveways, it can be safer than using a snowblower or a shovel.

Warmly Yours offers radiant heating solutions throughout the home, but also works on driveways and patios. Their website also features an “instant quote tool” that can help you decide if a radiant driveway is a good idea for you.

For even larger areas, the Power Plant Supply Co. has even more heating options. They claim to manufacture a heating system that knows when to turn off and on, which likely means that it’s hooked up to an exterior thermostat. They also work with rooftops and gutters, if you’re worried about clearing snow and ice in those areas.

For more details on how exactly these systems work, check out GTA Heating’s Snow Melt System page, which has plenty of photos. Heating Ontario also has details.

The cost of a heated driveway system depends on a variety of factors. First, you’ll need to consider how large your spaces actually are, and whether you would like to pave the driveway, or the driveway plus a patio or some other surface. Second, learn whether there’s a volume discount for additional square feet. Then, figure out if the driveway can be attached to your existing heating system and power source, or if it needs a separate system. Installing can cost between $10-15,000, and there will be additional heating bills after that. Keep this in mind if you use electric heating. Before making a decision, learn how often the driveway needs to be “turned on” during the winter, or if it can be set to a timer or thermostat to further automate the process.

If you’re building a new home, or are renovating or rebuilding an existing driveway, talk to your contractors and electrician about how feasible a heated driveway might be. You may need to allow your driveway time to “settle” if your home is new. Also, you may want to discuss what surfaces are best for a heated driveway, and what (if any) long-term damage can be associated with temperature fluctuations on concrete, asphalt, or flagstone.

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