Electric car tariff guide

Date Posted 15th July 2021
Read Time 7 min read
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Electric cars are the future. They’re still relatively rare at the moment – we bet most of your friends still drive ordinary cars – but not far in the future, we know it’s all going to be about electric cars.

You might be worried about that. Perhaps you aren’t sure how they charge or what the impact of charging might be on your electricity bill.

Well, you’ll be pleased to know that it won’t cost you any more. Many people report that they pay less to charge their electric car than they used to spend on fuel.

But you are going to see a bigger electricity bill. That goes without saying. You’re charging a huge computer probably at least once a day, and that won’t come without a cost. 

The good news is that when you compare this bill to the amount you used to spend on electricity, it is highly likely you’ll be paying less if you own an electric car.

And there’s even better news. There are tariffs available for electric car owners that make the whole thing even more appealing.

In what we can only assume is a bid to save the planet while also making money, electric companies are jumping on the trend, offering great prices specifically for electric car drivers in a bid to win their business. There are different benefits to each depending on what you are looking for, and some come with pretty cool additions, like free smart meters.

But will your electricity bill go up? What is a rapid charger, and do you need one? What’s the best website to compare electric car charging tariffs? And how much will it cost you to charge your car when you’re on the motorway?

We’ll talk you through everything you need to know in this comprehensive guide to electric car tariffs.

Will my electricity bill go up if I have an electric car?

No! Research from EDF Energy found that owners of electric vehicles are likely to save on average £51,000 in their lifetime versus the cost of paying for an electric car.

It’s important to distinguish between the two types of electric vehicles available on the market today. Fully electric cars do not run off fuel and must be charged, or they won’t work.

Hybrids use a combination of fuel and electricity to run. Even these have, on average cheaper running costs than fueled vehicles.

How much does it cost when you aren’t at home?

It’s no secret that electric cars need charging on long journeys, and many people are worried about how much that will cost them.

It varies, but Polar, the biggest provider of electric car charging stations, costs about £6 for 30 minutes of charge. That’s for a rapid charge, which will get you to 80% of the charge in under an hour. If you want a slower charge, you’re looking at about £1 per hour. But who wants that.

What is rapid charging, and do I need it?

Rapid charging is much faster than an average electric vehicle charger, and it’s convenient for those who are always on the move.

On the other hand, fast chargers are more prevalent in homes and supermarkets and take four to six hours to fully charge, versus the rapid charger’s time of one to two hours.

If you think you’ll only need to charge your vehicle up overnight, then you’ll be OK with a fast charger.

If you need to charge it more than once a day from home, a rapid charger is for you.

What are the different types of tariffs?

Some are cheaper but have fewer cheap ‘off-peak’ hours; some are more expensive but allow you to charge your car from 12:30 am to 7:30 am without paying full price.

The cheapest tariff we could find was 0.87p per mile with e.on, which worked out at £2.20 per full charge on average. It has the cheapest off-peak rate but only offers these between 12 am, and 4 am.

EDF Energy offers the most off-peak hours, from 9 pm to 7 am, but a full charge with them costs more like £4.95.

But neither of those companies offer a free smart reader installation as part of their deal, whereas others do.

It’s about working out what will work best for you.

How can I get a cheap tariff?

Look specifically for companies that offer deals for people with electric cars. If your current electricity provider does this, we’d recommend you try them first. They’re going to want to keep you, so they’re an excellent place to start if you’re going to negotiate.

Should I stick with my existing tariff?

Well, that depends. Does your existing tariff include any deals that might be beneficial to you as an electric car owner?

There are lots of energy providers out there tailoring tariffs to suit electric car owners. Most of them do that by offering lower electric prices during ‘off-peak’ hours, which tends to be through the night (when you are most likely to be charging your car anyway).

Contact your electricity supplier and ask them what they can offer you. You might be surprised.

How do I compare electricity tariffs?

There are tonnes of websites out there to help you compare tariffs that will work with your electric car.

But be cautious. Every electricity provider will tell you that their tariff is the best one for you. So when you are searching, look for independent websites that compare lots of different companies.

It might be worth calling suppliers, too. Often they can offer you a better deal over the phone than they do on the website, especially if they think they need to do it to convince you.

The best energy tariffs for an electric car driver

How can technology help me lower my tariff?

Lots of companies with specific electric car tariffs install smart meters for free in your home.

Smart meters are incredible because they help you keep an eye on how much electricity you’re using month-on-month. That means no surprise bills.

You’ll be surprised by how much electricity you’re using when you’re watching it day-by-day, and this means that most people who install smart metres in their homes see a reduction in their monthly bills.

What types of EVs offer the best savings? (PHEV, BEV etc.)

Gone are the days where Tesla’s expensive electric car was your only option. Now, almost everyone’s got one.

The cheapest electric car on the market is £15,000, and it’s the Skoda CITIGOe iV, but you can find electric vehicles for great prices from Fiat, Skoda, Mazda and Vauxhall.

But what is a PHEV? Or a BEV? And which of them is cheaper to run?

A BEV is a battery electric vehicle, and it is 100% battery powered. You must charge it up, or your car won’t move. Since fully electric cars cost far less to keep going than fuel-powered ones, you’ll have to contend with the stops you’ll need to make to charge it. Some vehicles charge quickly, by the way, but you might be waiting twenty minutes or more in some instances, depending on the car you have.

A PHEV is a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle, which travels around 30 miles on a battery before the petrol or diesel engine takes over. That means you could drive around your town day-to-day in it and only use its electric charge. On longer journeys, you’d need to fill it with fuel.

An HEV is a hybrid electric vehicle. Notice we’ve lost the ‘plug in’? That’s because they don’t plugin. You fill them up as usual with petrol or diesel, and the tiny battery inside sometimes switches to run on its own without fuel at slow speeds. Not one for those looking to save fuel money, but a good step towards protecting the environment.

Looking to research electric car leasing in more detail? Why not take a look at our latest electric leasing news below.

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  2. Electric Car Charging Guide
  3. 9 Benefits of Electric Car Leasing
  4. 11 Electric Car Myths Debunked