The cheapest way to run an electric car is to find the best home EV tariff and benefit from improved electricity rates for charging.
That’s a factor that’s become even more important with energy prices having risen and after it was revealed another leg-up for electric car buyers was being removed, as the £1,500 plug-in car grant has ceased immediately.
We take a look at what electric car owners and those considering making the switch to an EV need to know.
Rightcharge estimates that the average household could save around £500 a year on the cost of their energy and fuel bills by switching to an electric vehicle specific tariff
With petrol and diesel prices rising to eyewatering levels, it’s no wonder that many more Britons are debating the switch to all-electric cars.
And they will join the 750,000 British car owners who have already gone electric, according to new figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
But, with rising electricity prices and the threat of another energy price cap increase in October, many may be considering putting the brakes on the switch.
But they may not want to pause, as even with higher electricity costs charging an electric car remains much cheaper that filling up with petrol – and those who seek out the best home EV tariff will find that they can save even more.
This is Money and electric motoring comparison site Rightcharge took a look at the energy tariff’s currently on the market, to find out how much they could set you back, and if it’s possible to save money on your motor bills.
Which energy providers offer specific EV tariffs?
Energy switching has got much harder, as prices have spiked and a crunch sent many firms bust. However, according to the data from Rightcharge, there are at least five major energy providers than currently offer an EV-specific energy tariff.
We looked at average prices based on a Jaguar I-Pace, averaging 7,000 miles a year, to see which providers offer the best rates.
| Peak |
|EDF||Go Electric single rate||£3,550||30.98||30.98||32.15|
|EDF||Go Electric 35||£3,237||45.69||4.50||32.23|
|EDF||Go Electric 98||£3,342||42.24||20.65||32.23|
|British Gas||Standard variable tariff |
|Ecotricity||Green Electricity + EV (Standard)||£3,073||31.90||31.90||42.57|
|Ecotricity||Green Electricity + EV (Economy 7)||£2,762||32.87||19.70||42.57|
|Prices are based on a 2-3 bed house in London, paid via direct debit|
Octopus currently offers some of the more competitive energy tariffs for those who would only be charging their electric cars at home.
Its Intelligent Octopus average annual price was £2,203, our research showed, while the Go Octopus average annual price came in at £2,318.
This includes all household electricity expenditure and car charging, assuming a car was charged during off-peak hours.
Both Octopus’s energy tariffs offer reasonable prices at peak rates, at 34.42p per kWh, and substantially lower off-peak rates, currently at 7.50p per kWh.
By comparison the Ofgem energy price cap rates from April 2022 sit at around 28.34p per kWh for electricity, with a 45p per day standing charge.
|Unit rate||7.37p per kWh||28.34p per kWh|
|Standing charge||27.22p per day||45.34p per day|
|Rates may vary depending on the region|
Of the EV tariffs we looked at, Ovo offers the most expensive rates, at 37.24p per kWh for both peak and off-peak hours, averaging a staggering £1,400 extra year compared to Octopus Energy.
Charlie Cook, CEO of Rightcharge, said that it doesn’t include Ovo on its price comparison site, as we ‘don’t think it’s great value’ for customers.
British Gas also offers an affordable standard tariff that is not specifically tailoured to EVs, however, with the energy crisis continuing to worsen, EV drivers may have a tough time switching to a standard tariff.
Fiona Howarth, CEO of Octopus Electric Vehicles, commented: ‘For many drivers, charging your car at home is as simple as charging your phone.
‘EV-specific energy tariffs like Octopus Go offer cheap, green energy in the middle of the night. When the average UK driver can fill up for as little as £12 a month, EVs are not only the better choice for the planet, but great for your wallet too.’
What about an Economy 7 tariff?
An Economy 7 (E7) tariff is the most common, non-smart energy tariff that offers seven hours of cheaper electricity overnight.
The tariff measures your electricity usage based on two different prices per kilowatt; an on-peak rate and an off-peak one, with off peak hours usually falling between 11pm and 8am.
And, as a majority of EV drivers are more likely to charge their vehicle overnight, you will get the best rate for your energy when you need it most with an E7 tariff.
Cook recommends electric motorists to stick to one of these EV-specific tariff to ensure they get the best prices out there.
He added, ‘EV tariffs are normally the best option for EV drivers who charge at home but if consumers want to compare prices of EV tariffs against a tariff available for normal consumers as well, they should consider Economy 7 tariffs.
‘Octopus’ Economy 7 tariff is currently our cheapest non-EV friendly tariff that we recommend for EV drivers, at annual estimated cost of £2,612 for the average EV driver.’
Cook also said that there may be some cases where an EV-specific tariff may not be the one for you.
It’s estimated that only 10 per cent of your energy bill could be going directly towards your total energy costs, so it’s important to monitor your usage in order to get the best value rates for your overall tariff.
Additionally, Ofgem has said that they believe their energy price cap could increase even further in October, which may mean that standard variable tariffs could cost you substantially more in six months time.
How do I get a good EV and home rate?
When it comes to choosing the right EV tariff, Cook says its all about the off-peak rates (and then using those to charge your electric car)
He said, ‘The best tariffs for the average EV driver have the cheapest off-peak rates for the longest period of time overnight.
‘If EV drivers smart charge (schedule their charge to align with cheaper, off-peak rates of their energy tariff) they will make use of the off-peak windows EV tariffs, reducing the cost of charging their car.’
But this can unfortunately mean that drivers could be left paying more for their daytime energy use, so customers need to be extra vigilant on their energy consumption.
Cook said: ‘For EV owners to accurately estimate their annual energy bill they need to consider their driving and charging habits as well as home usage.
‘Peak rates are normally slightly higher for EV tariffs, so drivers have to be careful that the increase in cost of their home usage doesn’t outweigh the savings to be had on their car charge when they switch to an EV tariff, especially if they aren’t smart charging.’
To ensure you are getting the best deal on your energy tariff, consider when you would likely be able to charge your electric car, and be firm with when you expend your extra energy.
If you find you are struggling to charge your EV overnight, or you don’t use your car regularly enough for daily charging, then a tariff with lower variable rates between night and day usage could be a better option for you.
Switching standard energy deals is very hard to do and likely to be uneconomical at the moment, but some comparison sites, such as Rightcharge do still allow people to compare EV-friendly tariffs. They may have to jump through hoops to switch to them, as we highlight below.
For EV owners to accurately estimate their annual energy bill they need to consider their driving and charging habits as well as home usage.
Octopus Energy currently has the most competitive off-peak rate of energy consumption for their EV specific energy tariffs, with the total costs for your energy bill averaging £2,200 a year
How much will my car choice affect my energy bill?
Naturally, the size of your house will influence how much you pay on your energy bill. The same is true for your electric car choice.
The range and efficiency of your electric car will influence how often you need to charge your car and how much energy it takes to keep it running.
Cook said, ‘regardless of the tariff you’re on, you will use more energy (and increase your annual bill) if you’re driving a lower efficiency EV.
‘Efficiency varies significantly between EV models, generally the heavier the electric car the lower the efficiency.
‘For example, a Tesla Model X owner will spend 60 per cent more on charging their car each year than a Nissan Leaf owner – assuming they drive the same number of miles per year.
‘The efficiency unit for electric vehicles is miles per kWh, i.e., the miles that can be covered using one unit of electricity. The lower the efficiency number the more energy required to travel a distance.’
If you have still to choose your electric car and want to save money, then it is definitely worth considering the efficiency rating of your car, in the same way a petrol or diesel motorist may look at miles per gallon when buying.
The type of electric car you choose could see your energy bills varying regardless of when you charge your vehicle, so be sure to check your vehicles efficiency rating before buying
Should you take out a deal with your car?
There are some deals available, depending on where you buy your car, that give you a one-off credit on your energy bill.
For example, you can get £90 credit with the VW & Octopus Energy deal and £75 credit with the Vanarama and OVO deal.
Cook added that you should be wary of the unit rates these deals offer, as some deals ‘don’t give any discount on the unit rates’.
He added, ‘The only other exception is Intelligent Octopus, which generally comes out cheapest for drivers at the moment.
‘This tariff is only available to owners of certain such as Tesla, Jaguar, Land Rover or VW (except the ID range).
‘However, Octopus intends to expand the app compatibility to work with more cars, and some charge points, so that soon any driver will be able to switch to Intelligent Octopus.
‘Other than these exceptions, all electric car drivers can access all EV tariffs, at the same rates.’
Is it possible to switch during the energy crisis?
The short answer? Yes, you can. The long answer? It depends on your tariff and energy provider.
Most electric vehicle deals are only available to existing customers of that company, but you may still be able to get one with a different provider by jumping through some extra hoops.
If you are already an existing customer, switching to a different tariff should be simple, as you can just call your provider up and they will start the switching process for you.
However, its worth knowing that to switch to an EV tariff you will need to have a smart meter installed, if you haven’t done so already.
If you are not an existing customer, there are a few extra steps involved.
You will need to switch to the energy provider first before you are able to take up an EV contract. Make sure you opt for their cheapest energy deal when you do, as it could take a number of weeks to make the switch.
Once you’ve made the switch, you should be able to ask your provider to begin the process of moving you to an EV tariff, but only after the contracted start date.
However, many providers are not taking on new customers at the moment, so it may be difficult to switch. The situation changes regularly though, so it is worth contacting your ideal provider to discuss the options for switching.
Most EV energy tariffs require a smart meter to get the best deals available
Will I see savings if I switch to an EV energy tariff?
If you can do it, switching to an EV energy tariff could save you hundreds on your energy bill.
‘Electric car drivers can shift a large proportion of their electricity to the night time, when wholesale electricity rates are lower and energy suppliers pass these savings on in the form of off-peak tariffs,’ says Cook.
‘Generally, an EV tariff will slightly increase the cost of powering the rest of a driver’s home, but this is outweighed by the savings made on charging their car.
‘The end result is a significant reduction in annual bills.’
But, its not just your wallet that could see a positive impact from switching to off-peak charging.
Cook says: ‘Using electricity overnight is not only cheaper, it’s cleaner too because of the way the UK’s electricity is generated.
‘Electricity consumed overnight generates 25 per cent less C02 on average than electricity used during the evening.
Why? It’s because the UK’s gas turbines are dialled right up during the evening to meet peak electricity demand (we use a lot of energy in the evening for example to make dinner and watch TV).
‘Overnight, electricity demand drops away, the gas turbines are turned down, and we’re left with a much higher proportion of our electricity coming from low carbon sources like wind and nuclear.’
Meanwhile, Howarth added that you can benefit from additional savings on your energy consumption by taking advantage of free, or cheaper energy sharing alternatives.
She said: ‘Filling up an EV at the lowest cost will be a shift in mindset for many of us.
‘As a rule of thumb, charging your car slowly when it is parked will be the lowest cost and often most convenient. Unlike a petrol or diesel car you don’t have to stand with it, so it can be busy charging while you are busy elsewhere.
‘Sometimes we’ll also pay more for speed and convenience, for instance when you need to use rapid chargers on motorways or longer journeys.
‘However, with around 20 per cent of public chargers in the UK being completely free, small tweaks to your charging habits can offer huge savings.
‘A little planning goes a long way and can save thousands of pounds.’
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