How to optimise the cost of EV home charging

EV Charging | 11 April 2024

Whether you’re a seasoned EV driver or recently made the switch to an electric car, you’ve most likely thought about installing an EV charger in your home

We’re not going to lie – doing so would make sense. 

Drawbacks to Public EV Charging

Stats show that the cost of charging your electric car at home is far cheaper than using a public charging station. The Zapmap Price Index, released in February 2024, revealed that charging an EV on the public network increased in price by 11-12 per cent during the previous year, rising to 81p per kWh for a rapid charge. On the other hand, those who charged their cars at home using the standard tariff saw an increase of one per cent to 27p per kWh during that same period.

A further drawback to using the public charging network is that 20 per cent VAT is applied. This compares pretty unfavourably to home charging’s 5 per cent VAT rate. 

Still, the hesitation for many people in getting an EV home charger fitted is its one-off cost, which is typically around £1,000-£1,500. But while this is a considerable amount to stump up, particularly if you’ve only recently bought your car, the maths says that you’ll recoup the cost of the installation within two years by continually topping up at home. 

Ways to Optimise the Cost of Your EV Home Charger

While these points might seem like incentive enough to install an EV charger at home, the savings don’t stop there. There are several ways to optimise the cost of home charging, so read on as we go through them one by one.

Check out EV Grants

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of how to reduce the cost of recharging your electric car at home, investigate whether you can get some money off the cost of your EV charger installation. The UK government’s ambitious plan to eliminate carbon emissions by 2050 includes promoting electric cars. So, to reduce the cost of recharging your EV at home, consider applying for grants like a charge point grant for renters and flat owners. Eligible applicants can receive up to £350 for installing a smart EV charger at their home’s off-street parking site.

Make Use of Low Tariffs

One of the easiest ways to optimise your home charging costs is to choose a low EV-specific electricity tariff. These are energy rates designed for owners of electric cars using their home electricity to power up their vehicles.

The majority of these tariffs will require a smart meter, which enables your supplier to track your energy consumption and charge you appropriately. 

In general, there are three different types of low EV tariffs:

Single-Rate Tariff

A single-rate tariff has, as the name implies, one single and consistent flat rate per kWh of electricity. Typically, energy suppliers offer a discounted rate to EV owners, which can work for those who, for whatever reason, aren’t able to make use of the more flexible two-rate or dynamic tariffs.

Two-Rate Tariff

The two-rate tariff is the most common tariff available and is based on two rates per kWh of electricity. The peak pricing is somewhat more than a single-rate tariff and is usually applied during the evening (4 pm – 8 pm) when demand for electricity is highest. The off-peak pricing runs overnight and offers much lower rates during this period. As a result, most EV owners plug in and power up their cars while they sleep.

Dynamic Tariff

This tariff is aimed at incentivising energy consumers to reduce energy usage during times when the demand for electricity is greatest. You will be exposed to different kWh unit prices for each of the 48 half-hour periods of the day, and these will change each day of the week and each day of the year. For those energy consumers able to flex when they schedule their devices, including EV chargers, to operate, they can take advantage of the cheapest half-hour periods of the day and avoid the high-cost peak rates. Sometimes, during periods of low electricity demand and high wind generation, the electricity price goes negative (referred to as ‘plunge pricing’); in these situations, you will get paid to consume electricity from the grid and charge your car!   

It should be noted that at this present time, dynamic tariffs are not widely available with Octopus being the only supplier providing a dynamic time-of-use (TOU) offer to consumers through its Agile Octopus tariff.

Charge EV During Off-Peak Periods

Most electric car owners opt for the two-rate tariff so that they can benefit from the significantly lower off-peak rates. This allows them to plug in their car overnight to ensure it is fully charged by the time they drive it the next day.

Ofgem’s current price cap on the cost of electricity is set at 28p per kWh (approximately 9p per mile), though that’s set to drop to 24.5p per kWh from 1st April 2024, the lowest it’s been in two years. Currently, the average cost of fully charging your EV at home is around £17, according to Pod Point. But with several energy providers vying for your custom, those costs can dip even lower with special off-peak tariffs offering as low as  3.2p per mile

Compare this to the £29.60 it will cost you to rapidly charge your car up to 80 per cent in a public charging station, and the benefits of charging your EV during off-peak periods at home become evident.

Don’t Fully Charge Your Battery

Although you might believe it’s a good idea to keep your battery fully charged at all times, there are two strong reasons not to. 

The first is price: as you cross the 80 per cent charge range, the rate of charge slows down, which can see the cost creep up, particularly in times of peak demand.

The second also has a cost incentive because it relates to battery longevity. Continuously charging to 100 per cent is stressful on your battery. Lithium-ion batteries perform better if they’re not consistently charged to maximum capacity or allowed to drain to empty. So, if you only ever charge your EV to between 30 and 80 per cent, it will run more smoothly and the battery will last longer.

Opt for Slow Charging Options

Always opt for slower charging options if time allows. For example, if you slow charge overnight, you can take advantage of lower electricity costs during off-peak hours.

Moreover, slower charging can be more energy-efficient. Fast charging tends to produce greater heat, which can result in lost energy and less effective charging. On the other hand, slower charging produces less heat, leading to a more effective transfer of energy from grid to battery. This kind of energy saving will, over time, translate into cost savings too. 

On top of that, because slower charging generates less heat, it will increase your EV battery’s lifespan and, as such, reduce the need for costly battery repairs or replacement. 

Use Smart Data Insights

Getting an EV charger installed at home is an excellent time to upgrade your old analogue meter to a smart meter if needed. This won’t cost you a penny as your energy supplier is required to replace outdated meters with smart ones unless there’s a suitable reason not to. 

There are a ton of great benefits with a smart meter, not least of all the fact that they measure energy use in real-time and then send the data to your supplier. Not only does this mean there’s now no need to take manual readings of your electricity meter, but it prompts more accurate meter readings and billings.

The data is also available to the consumer through an in-home display highlighting how much energy is being used and how much it costs. This enables you to manage your overall electricity consumption better. You can adjust the amount and timing of electricity that your car receives, presetting EV charging until nightly off-peak times when energy costs are at their lowest. 

Also, because smart meters collect real-time data they can guide suppliers and consumers to use EV chargers at times when renewable sources, such as solar, wind and nuclear power, are most available. This minimises your use of fossil fuels, directing you to scoop up clean as well as cheap energy.

In addition, The Electric Vehicle Smart Charging Action Plan, which was published last year pinpoints a pocket-friendly section that allows customers to use the energy that their electric car stores to power their homes and even sell the stored electricity back to the grid at a profit. 

Charging EVs with Solar Panels

One final way to further lessen dependency on the grid and keep those costs down is by installing solar panels in your home. This is particularly valid in light of the European energy crisis that is now occurring and may not end soon. 

Charging during daylight hours when solar energy production is at its peak will allow you to utilise clean and free energy to fuel your vehicle. 

Additionally, you can use solar batteries to store energy for later use, thus ensuring more consistent access to sun-powered electricity and limiting your overall dependence on the grid.

If you already have solar panels and want to charge your EV directly from your solar system, you’ll need a solar-compatible EV charger such as the VCHRGD Seven from Powerverse.  This will allow you to divert excess solar energy towards your EV instead of exporting it back to the grid.

Powerserve Home EV Charger Installation

There’s little doubt that having a home car charger will save you oodles of money. If you’re currently considering it, feel free to chat with us and we’ll answer any questions and concerns you have. Our VCHRGD EV charger is approved by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles and comes with a three-year warranty and a 14-day cancellation policy. 

Find out more and book a call today. 

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