Can I fuel my electric car for free?
The simple answer is yes, you can charge your electric car for free.
Head to the supermarket and you can charge up for free while you shop - at least at the 200 or so Tesco stores that have now installed charging points.
Other options, at least for some people, include free charging at their place of work.
However, for many electric vehicle (EV) owners, the most convenient option is usually to charge overnight at home.
While you won’t be able to do this without putting your hand in your pocket, there are several steps you can take to make charging your electric car at home great value.
Charging at home
If you have a driveway or garage, installing your own charge point and using that to charge overnight will likely be your best option.
First, you’ll need a home charging point. These typically cost around £1,000 to have installed, although you can cut that cost by up to £350 with an Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) grant.
Then you’ll need to pay for electricity from your supplier, as you would for anything else you plug in at home.
In terms of the costs of doing that, driving 10,000 miles a year in a Leaf – Nissan’s popular electric car - could cost you around £300 using a home charger, according to Energy Saving Trust. That would compare to £858 in fuel costs for a Nissan Micra.
Switch electricity supplier
That £300 cost for fuelling up an electric car for a year is just an average. Exactly how much you spend depends on several factors, including the sort of electric car you have and your electricity tariff. When you buy an electric car, it becomes more important than ever to switch to a better deal. Given that switching to a better deal can save you £300 on your energy bill, that’s equivalent to your first year of EV driving for free.
When searching for a new tariff, consider an off-peak electricity tariff as these offer cheaper energy during specified off-peak, low demand times of day, so you could benefit from charging your car using cheaper overnight electricity. You can put your vehicle on a timer so that it charges overnight during the cheap hours.
In addition, some energy suppliers offer discounts to customers with electric cars.
Generate and store your own electricity
Since you'll be using much more electricity than you did previously, you would benefit from your own source of cheap electricity. Solar panels are often the best answer.
Fitting solar panels will save money on your energy bills, as you won’t have to buy as much – if any – energy from the grid.
However, solar panels don’t generate electricity overnight, so a third piece of the jigsaw puzzle may be required: a battery, or home energy-storage system, which stores the electricity captured during the day, for use at a later date.
Combining an electric car with solar panels and a battery means you can generate your own cheap source of electricity and then store the electricity you capture during the day.
If you want to find out just how self-sufficient you could be with solar, check out our unique solar simulator and see.
You’ll save money in other ways too by using an electric car, including:
- Maintenance costs: With many fewer moving parts than normal petrol and diesel cars, electric cars typically require less maintenance.
- Road tax: pure electric vehicles are exempt from road tax; plug-in hybrid electric vehicles pay a reduced rate.
- City clean air zones: you can avoid paying charges in the increasing number of cities that are introducing Clean Air Zones. For example, pure electric cars are exempt from the £12.50 charge for entering London's new Ultra Low Emission Zone.
These are just some of the financial savings from owning an electric car – there are plenty of other advantages too.
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