Snowy, cold winter costing us big bucks
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Brian Eckman, left, of Robert W. Heh Construction of Stroudsburg, shovels snow from the roof of a Neola home as fellow employees Jacob Heh, Tonya Storm and Chris Hellman look on.
Waking up to the bright glare of yet another layer of snow, the average Joe squints, sighs, and gets out his checkbook. Again.
As the temperatures plunge and the snow piles up, so do the bills: for plowing, equipment, home maintenance, car repairs and heating.
Adding to the misery is yet another lean paycheck because deep snow and ice have made driving to work impossible or dangerous.
Fred Bartelt of Nesquehoning felt the sting of losing about $250 after having to miss two shifts from his job as a laborer.
Helena Barker of Lansford, responding to a question posed on the TIMES NEWS Facebook page, said her fiance is a tractor-trailer driver and is losing $200 to $300 a day due to impassable roads.
In order to venture out onto roads, which may or may not be plowed in time for one to get to work, one must first be able to get out of the driveway.
But first, a path needs to be made to get from the porch to the driveway. That requires a good snow shovel, which costs about $20, said Linda Guy, manager at Lehighton Hardware.
Then add the snow melt, at anywhere from $7 for 50 pounds of rock salt to $10 for 20 pounds of pet-friendly ice melter.
The driveway can be cleared as a do-it-yourself project with a snowblower, which can run from a basic, bare-bones model for $300 to a fancy number complete with heated handlebars for about $2,500.
Or, a homeowner can hire a neighborhood kid for $25 or so. Professional plowing, of course, costs more.
It costs homeowners anywhere from $30 to $100 to plow an average driveway, depending on how long it is, said Dante Angelus of Motola's Paving in Franklin Township.
Including surface treatments like salt costs more.
Once out on the road, be careful. Those fender benders can put a dent in one's wallet.
The average cost of fixing a vehicle damaged from a snowy road collision is between $2,000 to $3,000, said Alex Cormier of Wentz Auto Body in Lehighton.
While insurance typically covers the cost, drivers could pay deductibles ranging from $250 to more than $1,000 depending on what their carrier offers and what amount they choose, said Dave Phillips of State Farm Insurance.
Heating costs are burning up the cash, too. A series of cold snaps and more snow than is typical have strained supplies of propane and fuel oil, boosting the prices.
Home heating oil prices in Pennsylvania have risen from $3.747 a gallon on Jan. 6 to $4.051 as of Feb. 10, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Propane prices have also gone up, from $3.333 a gallon to $3.991 during the same period.
Clearing snow from rooftops is the ounce of prevention that is worth a pound of cure.
On Monday morning, Stroudsburg contractor Robert W. Heh was clearing snow from a Neola rooftop with his workers, who include his daughters Tonya Storm, 33, and Taylor Heh, 17.
The average cost of clearing a roof is about $500, he said. Of course, the larger the roof, the more expensive. So far this winter, with its series of snow storms, Heh has done six roofs.
"We haven't shoveled roofs since 1996," he said.
Along with the costs of snow removal, heat and car repair, there are two other winter storm must-haves people need to factor into their budgets: About $3 for a bag of Oreo cookies and another $1.50 for a box of cocoa mix. Add a $5 fleece throw and a free library book, and life is good.