Driving an electric car undoubtedly lowers the cost of motoring. However, if you are charging an electric car (or EV) on a public charging network, the cost per mile can be high. It can even work out as expensive as refilling an efficient petrol or diesel car. Even charging at home can add significantly to your home energy bill.
Six ways to keep electric car charging costs down
As an EV driver, here are some other things you can do to lower the cost per mile of charging your car:
- Drive in recuperation mode – one of the best things about an EV is the ‘one pedal driving’. Recuperation or regenerative modes mean the car sends energy back to the battery when you slow down or head downhill.
- Avoid the last 20%, in and out – The first and last parts of a battery take the most energy to charge. Avoid running your battery down and set it to stop charging at 80%, unless you need the range for a longer journey. This is great for battery health too.
- Take advantage of free charging – Some supermarkets, like Tesco, and some destinations (like National Trust properties) still offer free charging for the duration of your stay.
- Keep your battery cool – Most electric vehicles have a lithium battery, which doesn’t like to overheat. Avoid charging in direct sunlight if you can. Park in the shade if you can or store your electric car in a car port or garage when it’s really hot.
- Consider solar on your roof – If your car is at home during the day, installing PV panels gets you the greenest and cheapest energy out there. Prices of solar panels have dropped considerably, so it’s worth getting a quote now even if you’ve ruled solar out in the past.
- Maintain your vehicle – As for any vehicle, even a small bit of maintenance like checking your tyre pressures can make a difference to your range. You’ll usually find the recommended pressures on the inside of the car door.
How can I save with overnight charging?
A few years ago, the best way to save money on electric vehicle charging at home was an Economy 7 or Economy 10 tariff. Today, many utilities offer similar overnight rates for charging an electric car (EV tariffs). These tariffs make it cheaper and greener to top up your battery when demand for electricity is normally lower.
Our top tips below will help you work out which is the best EV-friendly tariff for you.
How to pick the best energy for your electric car
Don’t be fooled by a cheap off-peak rate. The EV tariff with the lowest rate is not always the cheapest option. The standing charge and daytime rates can be higher than you’d normally expect to pay. Depending on your overall energy use you might even find that a single price tariff could work out to be cheaper. This is especially true if you have electric heating, work shifts or have more than one electric car.
Split your fuels. Think about splitting your gas and electricity supply (Check first that your chosen utility will allow this, some will only put you on an EV tariff if you take your gas there too).
Use delaying tactics. Find the time delay button on your washing machine and dishwasher. Almost all modern machines have a delay function. Once you have found the button, press it repeatedly to increase the time your machine will wait before it starts. Don’t forget to press start when you’ve reached the correct time delay!
Be realistic about your home use. The average home uses more electricity that an electric car doing an average mileage. Energy companies calculate that you’ll shift as much as 66% into the off-peak, but that still leaves you paying for 34% of your use in the pricier day rates.
Could you generate? With an EV to charge, maybe now is the time to start thinking about solar on your roof or maybe even a home battery. You can find out your likely payback for solar or a battery using our free, online green energy assessment.
Find an energy tariff that fits
Don’t be afraid to go with a non-EV tariff. Some no-frills retailers, like Symbio, offer very cheap Economy 7 rates that might work better for you, especially if you need more than 5 hours to charge overnight.
Ask how green your energy is. All EV tariffs claim 100% renewables, ‘green’ energy isn’t necessarily all that green. Buy energy that supports renewables in the UK. Green energy pioneers Good Energy have a helpful blog on what it really means to be green. Read more on: How green your energy really is.
Find an app to help. If you are thinking about a dynamic tariff like Agile, download the Octopus Watch app. This will keep an eye on the prices and tell you the cheapest times to use electricity in the next 24 hours.
The good news is that many EV tariffs don’t have exit fees, so you can move if your use changes without too many problems. The exceptions are where free memberships or chargers are included.