The cost to install a heated driveway is $12 to $21 per square foot, not including removal
Portable mats are more affordable than built-in systems
You should account for the ongoing cost of electricity when setting your budget
Hire a professional driveway installer to tackle this project for you
If you’re sick of shoveling snow and sprinkling salt on your driveway all winter long, a heated driveway could be a life-saver. Heated driveways are gaining popularity, and while they aren't exactly inexpensive, many think the benefits far outweigh the costs. This type of driveway usually costs an average of $3,900.
How Much Does a Heated Driveway Cost per Square Foot?
The cost to install a heated driveway is around $12 to $21 per square foot. This includes both the materials necessary for the driveway as well as labor. The cost to install a heated driveway will be more expensive if you need to remove an old driveway first. Homeowners can expect to pay an additional $1 to $2 per square foot for driveway removal.
Driveway Heating Options
Place heated mats where you need them when you need them, like on a driveway, walkway, or porch. Much like a heating pad works on your body, these mats sandwich an adjustable heating element between rubber covers. You’ll need to remember to get these guys in position before each snowstorm, but they require no pro installation and are cheaper than a built-in system.
A traditional built-in system runs heating elements that pump a mixture of hot water and antifreeze beneath your driveway. You can opt to set up your heating system using tubes or wire grids, but both options will run up your electricity bill.
“Some homeowners use driveway snow-melting mats, which simply plug into standard 120-volt outlet,” says Bob Tschudi, a general contractor in Raleigh, NC. “While they are effective, they aren’t visually appealing and they don’t last as long as in-asphalt and in-concrete installations.”
How Much Does a Heated Driveway Cost by Material?
Some common types of heated driveways include asphalt and concrete driveways.
Heated Asphalt Driveway Cost
Heated asphalt driveways typically cost an average of $8,600. Asphalt driveways don’t stand up to the heat as well as concrete, but they’re often a better choice for areas that experience particularly cold winter weather.
Heated Concrete Driveway Cost
Heated concrete driveways cost an average of $7,550. Concrete driveways often last longer than asphalt, but can sometimes crack or buckle in extremely cold winter temperatures.
What Factors Influence the Cost to Install a Heated Driveway?
There are a few significant factors that influence the cost of a heated driveway, including the size of your driveway, what type of heating system you use, and whether or not you have a fully automated system.
Driveway size is one of the main factors that influences cost. Installing a heated driveway that only fits one or two cars will cost much less than installing a heated driveway in a larger area.
Electric or Water Based
Which type of heating system you choose will also affect the cost. Water-based systems (hydronic, geothermal, etc.) are usually more expensive initially, costing 30% to 50% more than electric systems. But they make that up over time: They use less energy than their electrical counterparts that use a mat or wiring system, unless the electrical system is solar powered.
If you want to ensure your driveway is snow-free even when you head out for your morning commute, you might want to consider an automated system. You can add a sensor system that automatically turns on when it starts snowing, saving you from having to push a button and wait for the snow or ice to melt on top of your already-hectic morning routine. However, automated heated driveways are typically more expensive than those with a manual switch.
Replacing an Old Driveway
In many cases, homeowners who want a heated driveway must remove their old driveway first. This can increase costs because you’ll need to pay for the removal of the original driveway as well as the installation of the new one. But it can also be an opportunity to better customize your driveway to meet your needs, such as widening your driveway.
Cost of Electricity
Setup fees aside, you’ll need to account for the cost to actually heat your driveway. Electric rates vary based on where you live, and energy prices are rising nationally—the current national average is more than $0.14 per kilowatt per hour, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. For an accurate estimate, contact your electric company or look at a bill to find costs for your area.
Electrical systems are usually pretty maintenance-free. But you should still budget for potential control board replacements or tubing ruptures. An electrician charges $40 to $100 per hour or more. Heated driveways are complex, and if they have to tear up the driveway for repairs, your costs will increase substantially.
How Much Does It Cost to Install a Heated Driveway Yourself?
Here’s the thing: Installing a heated driveway isn’t a good DIY project. This is because it requires professional tools and experience that most homeowners just don’t have. The installation can be long, back-breaking, and difficult, especially if you need to demolish an existing driveway before installing the heating system.
Professional driveway installers have much more experience with heating systems than the average homeowner. Because professionals can remove and reinstall the actual driveway much more efficiently, the project could take weeks less than it would in a do-it-yourself scenario. If you’re interested in a heated driveway, you should get in touch with a dependable driveway company near you to discuss your options.
Are Heated Driveways Worth the Money?
Whether or not a heated driveway is worth the money depends on your preferences and needs. If you live in a cold climate with heavy snowfall, it could be a smart investment that means no more shoveling snow yourself or paying for snow shoveling services.
You’ll also decrease the likelihood of falls from a snowy driveway, whether the kids are outside playing or friends and family are coming for a visit.
Another plus is that you won’t have to use ice-melt chemicals or rock salt, both of which can harm asphalt and concrete driveways and damage vehicle undercarriages.
Frequently Asked Questions
The basic concept of a heated driveway revolves around keeping the pavement warm enough to melt falling snow instead of letting it pile up.
The two popular types of heating systems both work by generating radiant heat underneath the driveway, thus keeping the pavement warm during snowstorms.
The electric heating method uses an electric current to generate heat on a wire or across a mat, in almost exactly the same manner as most indoor floor-heating systems. The water method uses a series of tubes and pumps to move hot water directly underneath the driveway, warming it up.
The snow removal benefits are obvious, but that's not the only reason to consider upgrading your concrete or asphalt driveway. Heated driveways also prevent ice accumulation, making walking to the car in January much less dangerous.
Such driveways also reduce the need for using salt or other snow-removal chemicals on the driveway, greatly reducing the amount of wear-and-tear the driveway absorbs.
Heated driveways mat costs vary based on the size of the mat, with larger ones costing about $1,000. Portable heating mats are a less expensive alternative to heating systems embedded underneath your driveways. You can place heated mats over your driveway, entrances, or sidewalks to prevent snow accumulation.
If you can’t stand the thought of shoveling after another snowstorm, a heated driveway can seem like an attractive option. While heated driveways aren’t usually necessary for your home, they can be a nice additional perk that cuts down on shoveling time and allows you to enjoy the winter weather. They also melt ice and make driveways safer to walk on for older adults and people with disabilities.
Yes, but this usually involves cutting grooves into the driveway, installing the heating elements, then sealing them.
“While this is considerably less expensive than typical heated driveway systems, the final appearance could be diminished,” Tschudi says.