With rising energy costs, electric car drivers are urged to take simple steps to keep their running costs low.
However, in many cases it is still cheaper to use an EV than a gasoline or diesel model and there are steps new and old EV drivers can take to keep charging costs down.
Even with current energy prices, charging your electric vehicle at home is often cheaper than using a public charger. Prices in public places can exceed 70 pence per kWh and there are fears that providers will increase costs further in response to rising energy prices.
If you regularly charge your EV at home, it’s worth making sure you have a favorable electricity rate. Some energy companies, such as Octopus and Bulb, offer EV-specific rates for drivers with costs as low as 6.7 pence per kWh.
Some energy companies also offer off-peak or time-of-use rates where you pay less for electricity used during times of low demand, usually overnight. Unfortunately, with prices soaring, these aren’t as easy to find these days, but if you already have one, be sure to time your charges to match the best rates.
If you have to charge in public, it pays to be smart about which chargers you use. Different networks have different standard rates and some offer discounts to members. These can cut prices by as much as 12 pence per kWh, but be aware of subscription fees.
Different charger speeds also attract different prices, so think about how fast you need to charge and what your car is capable of. There is no point in paying 69p/kWh for a 350kW charger if your car maxes out at 100kW or using an expensive fast charger if you are planning a longer stop where a slower speed would suffice.
Apps like Zap-Map and WattsUp will show you the speeds and prices of individual chargers, so you can find the most affordable option near you.
Beware of parking charges and overstay fees that can quickly add to the cost of a cheap charge.
Although they are getting harder to find, there are still some free-to-use public chargers that can provide a small additional charge while you’re on the go.
Melanie Shufflebotham, Zap-Map’s director of operations, told National World: “There are about 4,000 charging points that are free to use across the country. Most of these are low-power ‘destination’ chargers, usually supermarkets or attractions, that will give you a top-up charge while you’re away from home.”
Electric vehicle drivers are generally advised to keep their cars between 20% and 80% charged. Not only does the first and last 20% of a full charge take longer, but letting the car run regularly until empty and then recharging it fully can degrade the battery. A degraded battery will provide less range and require more frequent charging, costing owners more in the long run.
Constant rapid charging of your EV battery can also degrade it and is not recommended. According to automaker DS: “Fast charging sends a large current to batteries in a short period of time, depleting the battery. If you can, try to rely on slower charges, like overnight. That’s not to say you can’t use fast charging, just use it only when needed.”
EV batteries are pretty robust things, but they still take a toll on extreme temperatures. Cold weather will reduce a car’s range, while hot temperatures are also bad news and can affect battery charging performance, which can end up costing you more.
If you are charging in hot weather, try to park your car in the shade to keep the battery as cool as possible.
Electric vehicles generally require less maintenance than a car with a combustion engine, but tires are an area that still needs attention for economic and safety reasons. Just like a gasoline car, an electric vehicle running on tires that are too low or too low will not be very efficient and will waste battery power and money, so check your tire pressure regularly.
Carrying excess weight or unnecessary drag is also just as bad for an EV as it is for an ICE vehicle, so keep your car tidy and remove roof racks, boxes and bike racks when you’re not using them.
Virtually all electric vehicles have a preconditioning function that allows you to preheat or cool down your car before starting a trip. Doing this while the car is plugged in and charging means you won’t waste power once you’re on the road, which means more miles between charges.
All electric vehicles feature eco modes and regenerative braking, both of which can help maximize efficiency and save on charging costs.
Eco mode alters everything from throttle response to air conditioning output and can help your battery go several more miles. Although it may slow down the car’s responses a bit, many electric vehicles are noticeably more powerful compared to an equivalent gasoline car, so you’ll still have plenty of time to get up and go when you need to.
While eco mode uses less power, regenerative braking actually helps generate more by turning the motor into a generator when you slow down. Many electric vehicles have varying recovery levels to suit different driving conditions, so it’s worth exploring your options.
Finally, keep your speed low. Like a gas car, accelerating in an EV uses more energy than staying on the limit, so slowing down will also be easier on your wallet.
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