How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

16 December 2021 | OVO Energy

Electric vehicles (or EVs) are the way of the future. We all know they’re better for the planet, but are they better for your wallet? How much does it really cost to charge an electric car? That’s the question many people will be asking before they pick up the keys to their new set of wheels. 

In this handy guide, we’ll be covering everything you need to know about the cost to charge an electric car. That way, you can be sure if it’s worth your investment.

How much will it cost to charge my car at home?

This depends on 2 things – the size of your car battery, and your home energy plan. Cars with small batteries, like the Honda E or Nissan Leaf, charge up quickly and more cheaply, but need recharging more often.

On the other hand, the Tesla S needs a longer (and so more costly) charge – but it doesn't need charging as often. 

Cost also depends on your home energy plan. That’s because, like any other appliance, your car charges directly from your mains supply. So it’s important to find a tariff with rates that work for you.

How Vehicle-to-Grid technology will be able to earn you money

EV technology is progressing at lightning speed. There are new innovations and devices being developed as fast as you can say Battery Electric Vehicle!

The 2-way Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology is one such invention. It allows energy stored in EVs to be fed back into the national electricity network (or grid) to help supply energy at times of peak demand. This means you’ll soon be able to use your car’s stored energy to actually make money! 

Read more about this ingenious V2G idea in our informative guide.

Woman charging her electric car by the road

How to charge an electric car at work

One of the perks of driving an electric car on your work commute is that you might be able to charge up for free. Some companies provide their employees with access to free charging stations, which you can use with a universal Type 2 socket and cable. 

This allows you to pass your electric car charging costs onto your company, for even more savings!

Read our guide for more information on how to charge an electric car.

Cost of charging your electric car at public stations

Public chargepoints can be found on the street, in car parks, at supermarkets, service stations, hotels, and many other locations. Generally speaking, urban charging isn’t the cheapest option, although most subscription services offer some free charging to their members. 

Plus, some public charging locations, like supermarket car parks, offer free charging while you shop, which is a pretty neat idea.

Subscription services for EV drivers

There are literally dozens of UK public charging networks offering destination charge points, as well as kerbside charging stations. The major ones, including Polar, Ecotricity, and Shell Recharge, need a subscription. Some offer a pay-as-you-go service as well. Simply join online and they’ll do the rest.

The UK’s largest charging network is bp pulse, with over 8,000 charge points, and counting. They charge £7.85 a month for membership, which includes some free charging stations, while others have a 12p/kWh tariff. As with the other providers, you’ll usually have to access the network using a smartphone app or swipecard, which they’ll send to you. 

Tesla owners have their own network of chargers. There are over 500 Supercharger stations nationwide, with new ones being added all the time. These points provide rapid charging, giving cars up to an 80% charge in just 30 minutes.

Electric car charging cards

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) charging cards used to be the most popular way to pay for charging at the bigger public charging networks. Although these cards are still sent out to members, this method is quickly being replaced by contactless options. 

Zap-map is probably the most well-known public charging network map, but there are others you can try too – including: 

What is top-up charging?

You don’t wait to charge your phone until it’s already died – so why would you let that happen to your car?

EV drivers usually get into the habit of plugging in their car every time it’s parked up. This is what’s known as top-up charging. This is also sometimes referred to as the ABC of electric vehicles: ‘Always Be Charging’!

If you can find a charging station at your supermarket, gym, office, or wherever else you’ve parked your car, leaving it plugged in keeps the battery topped up before you next have to drive.

Regular top-up charging means you never have an empty battery. It’s good for your car, and it means you won’t get caught short when you need to go somewhere unexpectedly.

Kids look out of the family car

What are the cost differences with petrol cars?

One of the biggest questions people have when switching to greener vehicles is whether the cost to charge an electric car will be higher than filling up their tank with petrol.

Typically, charging an electric car is cheaper than running your vehicle on petrol or diesel. This is especially true when charging at home on a low cost tariff, like our Economy 7. Just bear in mind some public charging stations – especially rapid ones – can cost more per charge. That said, you might be able to charge up at work or other public places, like supermarkets, for free. 

If you want to compare the cost of journeys between electric and conventional vehicles, the Zap-Map journey cost calculator is a really useful tool.

As well as the lower cost to charge electric cars, EVs can save you money in other areas. Zero emission vehicles like electric cars are exempt from road tax. Plug-in hybrid cars are also charged at a lower rate than petrol/diesel cars. That’s on top of no London Congestion Charge for fully electric cars.

Finally, you might also be able to save on the overall maintenance of your EV. Throughout your car’s lifetime, a fully electric vehicle could cost as much as 70% less than petrol or diesel cars in maintenance costs.1 So, when you add it all up, EVs are a great way to go.

Why not get a quote, and switch to OVO today? You could be charging your EV and saving money sooner than you think. 

If you'd like to find out more about how to charge your EV not just at home, but at work or on the go, check out our handy guide.

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