With the winter plowing season getting underway, Consumer Reports decided this month to answer a question that numerous homeowners must have asked over the years: “With professional plowing services charging an average of $40 per storm …Wouldn’t a snow blower pay for itself?”
For a report published Dec. 10, the magazine selected 12 representative cities across the nation and calculated how many years it would take for a snow blower to do just that.
People living in Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit and Denver (or cities with similar snowfalls) can expect investing in a snow blower to pay off within a single year. In New York City, Philadelphia and Boston, it will take three years on average to recover the investment. Washington, D.C. came in at four years and Nashville at five.
Seattleites would need to use a snow blower for 13 years to come out ahead, and homeowners in Dallas would need 20 years. In Charlotte, perhaps unsurprisingly, a snow blower can never be expected to pay for itself.
“On average, if you’re pulling the snow blower out of the garage about five times per year, you’ll break even in about five years,” the report summarized.
The authors based their calculations on a blower costing about $875, annual fuel costs of $10 and annual maintenance of $100. The snow plow costs were based on average rates and National Weather Service data on typical snowfalls.
Snow Blower Safety Tips
For consumers who do opt to invest in a snow blower, there are a few safety tips to keep in mind.
Consumer Reports recommends that homeowners prepare for the season before any snow falls by clearing doormats, wires and debris from any areas where they’ll want to use the snow blower. These items can damage the machine or injure people nearby if they get stuck in the blower’s chute.
It’s also important to dress appropriately, in highly visible colors and with no loose garments that could become entangled in the blower, the magazine warned Dec. 16.
Operators should never reach inside the chute or auger, but should instead use a clearing tool if necessary instead.