Why I Personally Find Heated Driveways In Central New Hampshire, Where We Get Some Snow, A SLAP In The Face To Society.

.wasteyyy563Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail
by Anura Guruge

Helping-Others-ShoesOn Tuesday while we were still getting snow coming down at probably an inch an hour Deanna informed me that some folks who had moved to Wolfeboro (N.H.) had a heated driveway on their main house, on the water, so that it would also be clear of snow. She thought it would amuse me. It didn’t. It made me rather sad for man’s insensitivity to man. 

Garage pad  and tacks  Christmas 2010 StormIt is not the money. I do NOT begrudge them their money. They earned it and they can spend it, and I am all for conspicuous consumption, because that helps the economy and that is good for all of us. This is what bothers me about opting for snow melt solutions, especially heated driveways, in an area that gets more than its fair share of snow: the wantonness, the missed opportunity to help those around who NEED work to support their families and lastly, the irresponsible waste of natural resources [i.e., the extra coal (or oil) that has to be burned to generate the electricity to power the heating mats.]

Wanton waste of anything bothers me. I have no issue with private planes, $300,000 cars, multimillion dollar yachts, $87,100 for a Patek Philippe, $47,000 for Hasselblad H5D-200c, $20,000 night for a hotel suite or $340 million for a painting. Because in such cases you are paying for excellence — or something different. But, a heated driveway is not in that league. It is just wanton waste. To fritter money away to heat a drive to keep snow away WHEN you could pay a local person, a fraction of the overall cost, to do the same SMACKS on social irresponsibility. I am not talking about charity. I am talking about hiring a local person to keep your drive clear of snow and ice, rather than spending the tens of thousands it costs to install the heated driveways and the operational costs to keep them running when it is snowing.

There is a lot of poverty around the Lakes Region. But people who move up here from the South, and immediately enroll their kids in private school (and as boarders too so that they can get them heck the way out of their lives) and have no idea that our public schools around here have kids whose parents can’t afford to feed them adequately. We have all sorts of programs which eventually result in some of these kids getting backpacks of food on Friday to tide them over the weekend. I have also heard that we have a few kids who are homeless. Again I am not talking about charity. I am talking trickle down economics. Hire a local person, an unemployed father with three kids to feed or a 18 year old, with no job, who would love to make some money. They will keep your drive cleared. The unemployed father, probably a contractor outside of the winter, has a truck with a blade. The kid would probably gladly shovel. I know. I have hired both types. When I was living in Gilford, and my life consisted of traveling, mainly by air, 3 to 4 days a week, I found a local contractor and cut a deal. I needed to get to Logan or Manchester at crazy hours of the day and I would get back to Gilford at even crazier times, like 2 am in the morning. If it was snowing, and snowing badly, I needed to make sure that I could get through and I had a Cadillac FWD STS and a Volvo (something) 70 that could go through snow better than most. I would tell him my schedule and he had the drive and if necessary the whole road up to Rte 11 plowed for me. He would sometimes be there at 3am if I was leaving at 4 or 1am if I was coming back at 2:30. I paid him. He was happy. He needed the money. I was happy on all fronts. Trickle down economy. My clients paid for me (handsomely) to travel and I paid my ‘man’ to make sure I could travel during the winter.

So those are my first two gripes. Do not tell me that it doesn’t cost much to use electric heat to keep a drive clear of snow. Electric is not cheap in N.H., especially in Wolfeboro. I think their rate is 13 cents per kWh. I actually found this quote, here, from a contractor who actually sells and installs heated driveways. His quote: ‘they appear to be eating up power when they are running, making an electric meter look “like an old 78 record”’. Nice. QED. So don’t try to convince me that it is cost effective. If it was we would have them everywhere.

The arrogant, abhorrent disregard for wasting natural resources is my other gripe. Notice I complained about Hannaford wasting paper! I am consistent when it comes to natural resource conservation, if nothing else. I do not believe in global warming caused by greenhouse gases. But, I do know that we are consuming, at far too fast a rate, finite resources like coal, oil, gas and trees. We, in this country, in this state, burn coal or oil (not counting Seabrook) to produce electricity. So using electricity eats into our ‘reserve’ of coal and oil. Not good.

Well, I got that off my chest. I would hate a heated driveway. It would bother my dogs and I could not have that. Having the two dogs rolicking in the drive, in and out of the snow, while we shovel is one of my greatest pleasures these snowy days. I would hate to see them picking up their poor little paws in confusion to work out why the ground is hot. People are funny, but they are also insensitive.

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