BMW iX3 charging

How much does it cost to charge your electric car?

Need a quick guide to electric-car charging costs? Here’s our rundown of the facts and figures so you can easily budget for charging your electric car, at home or on the go.

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By Cazoo editorial team

How much does it cost to charge an electric car at home?

It depends. As well as the cost of the actual electricity used to refill your car’s battery, which will vary depending on your power provider’s tariff, you’ll also need to consider whether you want to install a dedicated home charger, known as a wallbox. This will let you charge your car faster than a normal three-pin socket but will involve purchase and installation costs.

A wallbox charger is the most efficient (and safest) way to charge your electric car at home. Regular use of a three-pin socket isn’t recommended – it can damage your electricity circuit so it’s best kept as a backup option 

If you buy a wallbox charger the cost will almost always include installation. Prices vary depending on the type and manufacturer of wallbox you want. The government offers a grant towards the cost of a charger through the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS), which gives you up to £350 off, but you can only claim this if you live in a flat or rental property and have off-street parking. 

The average cost of electricity (as of May 2022) is 28p per kWh but the amount you’ll pay for charging depends on both your electricity tariff and the size of your electric car’s battery.

Do I need to change my electricity tariff and if so, how?

While you don’t have to change your electricity tariff, it might be more cost effective to do so if you’re going to be regularly charging your car at home. If your current tariff means that you pay the same price for electricity whatever time of day, it might be worth switching to an  ‘off-peak’ or ‘economy’ tariff in which your electricity costs less at night. That means your electric car is topped up with low-cost electricity while you sleep, although it may mean you end up paying more than you currently do for electricity you use during the day. 

Many electricity providers have special tariffs for electric car owners, so it pays to look around to find the deal that works best for you. EDF and Octopus Energy are two providers who offer off-peak rates on special EV tariffs – 4.5p and 7.5p per kWh (as of mid-May 2022). 

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How much does it cost to use a public charging station?

The cost of using public chargers depends on a few factors, including the cost per kWh of electricity, what percentage of charge your battery needs and which charging provider you are using. 

Most public chargers impose a fee but some are free. These are most commonly found in places like supermarkets or healthcare centres. If you have to pay, the cost will depend on the provider and type of charger (slow, fast or rapid). The most common speed is 7-22kW, and this tends to be the least expensive. Rapid charging costs more but it could be worth it if you’re in a hurry and need the battery topped up quickly.

Many providers offer customers a discounted charging rate through a monthly membership or subscription. For example, Ionity has a 12-month subscription service for £16.99 a month. This means you pay 35p per kWh instead of 69p per kWh when you charge at an Ionity station, no matter where or how often. These memberships can help you make considerable savings over time if you frequently drive long distances or do most of your charging at public points. 

How much does motorway charging cost?

Motorway charging is likely to be the most expensive charging option – these chargers are usually rapid or even ultra-rapid and are found on the busiest driving routes. That being said, the convenience of a quick top-up when you’re running low can’t be understated. Some of these chargers are part of dedicated all-electric forecourts that are very similar to service stations and aim to make charging stops as relaxing as possible. 

Motorway chargers, like other public chargers, normally work on a pay-as-you-go basis – the more you charge, the more you’ll pay. Many new electric car batteries let you charge to around 80% capacity within 20 to 30 minutes and on average this will cost around £6.50, according to charging provider Pod Point (as of May 2022).

Do rising electricity prices make it more expensive to charge?

More expensive electricity inevitably means it’ll cost you more to charge your car, but exactly what future prices will be is very hard to predict. While a rise in energy prices isn’t news anyone wants to hear, there are ways to keep recharging costs down. 

First, check which home energy tariff you’re on – the rise affects people on default energy tariffs. It’s worth shopping around different providers and making sure you’re on the best plan. If you’re using public chargers, rising prices will likely increase those price-per-kWh charges. If you regularly use public chargers, it could be a good idea to get a subscription or membership as a way to lower the price.

Some electricity companies are investing in new ‘clean-energy’ projects, which they say will help keep energy costs down. In theory, this could protect consumers – including electric car owners – from price hikes, and keep public charging costs as low as possible in the future.

Can you save money using renewable energy to charge your electric car?

If you have a home energy system that uses renewable energy from solar panels or wind turbines, then you might be able to use surplus electricity to charge your car for free, in effect. Some wallboxes have an eco-charging mode that automatically switches to using surplus power when it’s available. In the long term, it might be worth installing renewable energy sources to help both the environment and your budgeting.

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