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EV drivers missing out on charging savings

 Published 7th April 2023
Driver Guides  General Guides 

Electric vehicle (EV) drivers could be saving money on charging costs every year. Which begs the question, why aren't they?

Good question. According to the latest data from EV payment specialist Mina, it's because most aren't taking advantage of switching to a specialist EV tariff for home charging. Being on the right tariff could literally save you thousands on your electricity bill every year.

According to Mina, the result was largely due to customer confusion and an inability to work out if, or how, they should move to a more suitable tariff. That means some drivers were potentially paying over six times more than they could be to charge: equivalent to spending £15 more on each home charge for a typical EV with a 60kWh battery. Over 20,000 miles a year, that would add up to around £1,500 that you could have saved for something nice.

EV-specific tariffs usually have a shorter low-cost window at night for charging than standard off-peak, but the charges are considerably less during that period – in some cases only a third of the cost of regular off-peak tariffs.

The report highlighted the fact that the average home charge cost 30p per kWh - only slightly less than the average cost of all home electricity at 34p per kWh for the period analysed. After analysing the data, Mina found the lowest rate was 5p per kWh for an EV specific home tariff. There's clearly a big difference between 5p per unit and the average cost of 30p per unit for a home charge. The logical conclusion has to be that not enough drivers are on specific tariffs that will save them money. Added to this, Mina's data, which tracked the charges, costs, and consumption of more than 60,000 plug-in events, found there were over 800 different home tariffs in use.

No wonder there's so much confusion.

There's no lack of desire from energy suppliers to offer EV tariffs and help drivers make the switch. Some EV owners have even been contacted by energy firms about the possibilities of switching to a more suitable tariff, but too many are still unaware making the switch could save them money. With current wholesale energy costs being so high and unpredictable, some energy providers are also finding it harder to launch these tariffs, although that will change as more EV tariffs should begin to appear over the next couple of years.

Octopus Energy is one of the leading energy suppliers in the UK and a smart tariff pioneer. Its Intelligent Octopus tariff allows drivers to charge for as little as 10p an hour during a six-hour window when it is best for the grid - helping drivers cut charging costs while balancing the grid.

Alex Schoch, Head of Flexibility at Octopus Energy Group, commented: “EV uptake has taken off in the UK - drivers are increasingly aware of the benefits of switching out their old school gas guzzling car. As Mina's report confirms, EV tariffs such as Intelligent Octopus allow drivers to tap into the lower running costs available with electric cars, while helping to balance the grid and bring down bills for everyone. As more low-cost renewables join the grid, these costs will only fall further - helping reduce the impact of travel on our wallets, as well as the planet.”

Charge overnight for best economy

The data shows that overnight home charging is by far the most economical way to charge your car or van - 92% of all the charges in the Mina database come from plugging in at home rather than in public.

It seems what is really needed is a little more practical assistance with personalised calculations so EV drivers can choose the most appropriate tariff based on the usage of all their household electricity needs. This will help get people on the right tariff for them, lowering costs and spreading energy demand.

Choosing the right tariff is a question of balance, and therefore requires a basic understanding of the way tariffs work. Mina has highlighted a number of considerations drivers should be aware of when looking to switch to an EV tariff:

  • Do you understand how much energy you are using at home to charge your EV?
  • Is a nightly 4–5-hour EV tariff window enough for daily charging needs, and can you schedule your EV (or EVs!) charge to fit into it?
  • Often the accompanying peak tariff rate is higher than average. Would the rest of your home energy bills negate the savings of the EV-specific element?
  • Would a standard off-peak tariff, which is a higher cost at often around two-thirds that of peak, but goes on for longer (usually around eight hours), be a better bet?

Answer those questions and you could be on your way to saving a huge chunk of money on your electricity bills if you're leasing an electric car.

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