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How Can You Reduce The Cost Of Charging Your Electric Car?

Whilst it might cost less than filling up at the pumps, charging your electric car will still make a sizeable dent in your monthly expenses. Some charging stations can be much more expensive than others and it can feel like a bit of a wild west at points! Charging up at home can also add a significant amount to your electricity bill. Thankfully, there are quite a few methods you can use to keep the cost of charging your car down.

 

Use free charging stations (when you can)

It might be surprising to know that there are quite a few free charging locations for cars in the UK! Zap-Map has estimated that, as of September 2021, there are almost 5,350 free charging points out of a total of over 25,000 charging points nationwide. The highest number of free charging points are in Scotland, whilst the lowest number of them are (perhaps unsurprisingly!) in the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. There are also a sizeable number of free charging points in the South East, North West and the Yorkshire & the Humber regions.

As for more specific locations, a lot of these free charging points tend to be in supermarket car parks and public car parks, as well as car dealerships. Your workplace may also have one or two free chargers you can use in the car park. It’s also not that uncommon now for hotels and B&Bs to have access to free car charging as part of their service. Many of these are supplied by ZeroNet, a not-for-profit organisation that provides charging services to the hospitality sector.

 

Use slower charging speeds

Whilst it might test your patience quite a bit, using slower charging speeds can actually help to save your money! Almost every EV on the market comes with an adapter that allows the car to connect into a conventional domestic plug for slow charging. Publicly-accessible slow chargers are often free to use, either for the general public or for anyone who works at a workplace equipped with them. You can also take advantage of lower off-peak electricity rates by charging your car up at night whilst you’re at home.

Slow charging can actually help to keep the battery healthy as well! In the lithium-ion batteries used by most EVs these days, the charging and discharging of the battery creates internal resistance within the cells. This generates heat and the quicker this charging and discharging happens, the more heat is created. Charging more slowly creates a lot less of this heat and, as a result, has the potential to increase the life of the car’s battery pack.

You can’t practically slow charge all the time, though. For some cars, it could take an entire day to charge up from a 230V output! As a result, slow charging is only really convenient if you’re leaving your car on charge at your place of work during your workday or if you’re charging it up whilst you sleep at night.

 

Be smarter about how you charge

Whilst it’s tempting to just let the battery run all or almost all the way down before you recharge it, that might not be the best thing to do when it comes to costs. If you charge a car from 20-30% instead of from 0-10%, you end up spending less money to charge it. This is because you don’t need to put as much energy into the battery to begin with.

It can also help costs to not charge a car all the way up to 100%. Charging up to 80% or 90% helps to save money for much the same reason as charging from 20% or 30% would. You’re putting less energy into the battery in the first place, so you don’t need to pay as much at the charger.

 

Get a charge card

If you regularly use public charging points, it might be worthwhile investing in a charging card. There are quite a few of them around right now offered by multiple different companies including Octopus Energy, Shell, Zap-Map and Bonnet. Some of them are completely contactless (requiring no physical card to be necessary) and some also support digital wallets.

Using these cards could really help to reduce your charging costs, although you should definitely check all the fees and charges to make sure which one is right for how you use the public charging network. If you choose the wrong card for your needs, you could potentially end up not saving yourself much money if at all!

 

Find out if you qualify for the EV chargepoint grant

If you want to buy a proper home charger for your car, you may qualify to have some of the cost of it covered by a grant. This is called the EV chargepoint grant and it can provide up to 75% of the cost of installing a charging point at any domestic property in the UK. This includes owners or tenants who live in apartment buildings, landlords who want to have charging points installed on their properties, owners of residential car parks and businesses who want to install charging points for staff and vehicle fleets. It used to be the case that you could have the cost of a charge point covered if you were a homeowner in a house, but as of 1 April 2022 this has ended.

If you’re renting or an owner-occupier of a flat in an apartment building, it’s definitely well worth looking to see if you might qualify for the EV chargepoint grant. Whilst it won’t reduce the cost of actually charging your car from a home charging setup, it will definitely reduce the bulk of the cost of getting one installed in the first place!

 

Install a battery storage system

If you can afford to, a way you can really cut down on the cost of charging your car at home is by installing a battery storage system. These allow you to store energy from rooftop solar panels and then use it later when you would otherwise be using electricity from the national grid.

This can include when you’re charging your car! Some home charging devices can be configured so that they only use electricity from your battery storage system. Without having to use electricity from the national grid to charge your car, you essentially don’t have to spend any money to charge it. If you need to charge a car up at home regularly, this’ll have a big effect on how much extra you’ll pay on your electricity bill.

 

Switch your energy tariff to an electric vehicle energy tariff

With the number of EVs on the road increasing more and more and therefore the demand for charging them at home, a lot of energy companies now offer tariffs that are specifically aimed at EV owners. These specialist tariffs reward owners who charge their cars up at night by reducing the cost of electricity during those hours. On a specialist EV tariff, the cost of charging your car at night could be as little as 4.5-5p per kWh compared to the 12p-15p per kWh you’d typically be charged during the day!

There are several energy companies that offer electric vehicle tariffs. One of them is EDF, which offers a GoElectric EV tariff that touts cheaper overnight electricity as well as an electricity supply that’s 100% renewable. Octopus Energy’s Go tariff is also an option that’s out there – it’s widely regarded as one of the best options for an electric vehicle energy tariff as it’s typically one of the cheapest you can find!

This is something you should definitely be looking at switching to if you’re buying an electric car, as it could save you a lot of money. In an interview with The Guardian for an article about these specialist tariffs, lovemyev.com’s founder Laura Thomson reckoned that you could save “hundreds of pounds a year” on your electricity bill by switching to them.

 

Choose a car that costs less to charge

One method that you might not have thought of regarding reducing your charging costs is to buy a car that doesn’t cost as much to charge. Whilst this isn’t something everyone can do, it definitely makes sense for those who mainly use their EVs for urban and short-distance driving. Smaller-capacity cars such as the Smart EQ ForTwo and ForFour, the Volkswagen e-Up and the Honda e are noticeably cheaper to charge than a higher-capacity car like a Tesla Model 3 or a Polestar 2 that’s designed to be able to do longer journeys as well.

CarBuyer did some digging earlier this year into which cars are the cheapest to charge and the models I mentioned above were all in the top 5 cheapest. The Hyundai Ioniq Electric and the Nissan e-NV200 both made the list too (in 6th and 7th respectively). The e-NV200’s entry is especially interesting, considering the van-based people carrier was the only 7-seater that made the list!

 

Charge your car at work if possible

If you regularly commute to work by car, you might want to check if the building or car park you use at work has free chargers installed. If it does, it would be well worth taking advantage of them! These chargers are usually free for anyone who works there and, if you’re there for a typical workday, will probably be able to charge your car up significantly whilst you’re at work. It’ll not only save you some money in the long run on using public chargers, but it could also save you a bit of money on your electricity bill at home!

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