How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

With the sale of all hybrid, diesel and petrol cars banned from 2035, investing in an electric car is something we’ll all need to do in the future.

But before making the transition, you probably have lots of questions about the costs of charging an electric car, and we have all the information you need.

Charging an electric vehicle

In contrast to common myths, charging an electric car can be quick, convenient, and cost-efficient.

Most electric car owners have a specialised electric vehicle (EV) charger installed at home. Allowing you to charge your vehicle whenever you’re not using it, you can charge your car overnight so that it’s ready to use the next day. How long your car takes to charge will depend on the home charger you have installed and the specific vehicle model, with each having different charging loads.

By now, you’ve probably also noticed EV charging points popping up all over towns and cities. Many of these allow you to charge your vehicle for a fee, which will depend on the speed of the charging point.

Many workplaces now have charging points too, which will often be free of charge. These will usually be slow charging points but can be used as a convenient way to top up the battery while you’re working.

Clearly, there are many convenient ways to charge an electric car, but how much will it cost? 

How to calculate running costs for an electric vehicle

Like traditional fuel engines, how much it costs to run an electric car depends on the model.

However, electric is cheaper than petrol or diesel, so whichever model you have, it’s likely your electric vehicle will be more cost-effective over time.

Adding to these savings, many electric vehicles are exempt from road tax and many can drive in congestion zones completely free of charge.

Cost to charge an electric car at home

There’s no definitive answer to how much it costs to charge an electric car at home, as this will depend on the amount of driving you do and the model of the car. However, by considering the following factors, you should get a rough estimate of how much it will cost:

  • Model of car – Like petrol- or diesel-powered vehicles, electric cars vary in efficiency. That means you’ll see variations in energy consumption, which is measured in kilowatts per hour (kWh). This is important to consider and should be factored into considerations when looking at cost.
  • Average mileage – How many miles you travel will naturally change the cost of charging an electric car. Try to work out how many miles you drive per week. You can then compare this to various models and see how much energy each would need to take you that distance. There are various apps that can help you with this, including the EV&me app developed by Futurice.
  • Electricity tariffs – You know your mileage and how much energy is needed for your chosen car for such a distance. But how much does this cost? This will depend on your energy provider. If you know how many kWh your vehicle needs, you can calculate a specific cost based on your energy tariff. For reference, the average cost per kWh in the UK is just 14.37p.
  • Top tip – Charging your car overnight (or ‘off-peak’) is not only convenient, but could save you money! You can manually plug your car in to charge overnight, but any EV home chargers installed after 30th June 2022 will be defaulted to charge during off-peak hours, when other demands for energy are at their lowest. This is to help the National Grid to balance their supply, but it also means that drivers may benefit from the less expensive off-peak energy rates offered by many energy suppliers.
  • Cost of home charging points – While only a one-off cost, it’s worth factoring in the cost of installing a home charging point. This is usually around £1000. You can find more information about home charging points here.

If you’re worried about running costs of an electric car, it’s worth using the above factors to produce an estimate of how much it’ll cost. Zap Map have a handy journey cost calculator than can help with this.

With electricity being significantly cheaper than petrol or fuel, whichever model you pick, you’re sure to make great savings. All while helping the environment!

Cost to charge an electric car at work

There’s great news here, as many employers around the UK now provide free electric vehicle charging points.

Other workplaces provide charging points for a fee, which helps ensure that plenty of people can use the charge point throughout the day.

For plug-in hybrid owners, workplace chargers are great as they can boost the battery enough to power a commute home, without having to use the engine.

Check with your employer to see if they provide these and if any fees apply. However, even if they provide free charging, still expect to do most of the charging at home. If you save a little extra money through charging at work, it’s an added bonus!

Cost to charge an electric car at public charge points

Thanks to technology, charging an electric car in public has never been easier. There are now lots of apps available that show you your nearest charging points, and many allow you to pay for the charge through the app.

As you’d expect, there is usually a fee, but the cost of charging an electric car at a public station is often only around £1.50 per hour. How much they will charge your battery per hour will vary so it’s worth checking beforehand.

A new roaming service has also recently been introduced by Renewable Energy Assurance Limited. This will allow customers to pay on various charging networks through the same system.

Certain retailers also have free charge points for their customers, so keep an eye out for these!

Cost to charge an electric car at rapid chargers

Rapid chargers are exactly what you’d expect them to be and provide a rapid charge.

With these, you’ll usually pay for 30 minutes of charging, which will often be enough to provide 100 miles of range.

As they charge batteries so quickly, they are often the most expensive method of charging. They sometimes charge per kWh of electricity too, which is why they can be more expensive than other methods.

Not all EVs are compatible with rapid chargers. If you complete lots of long journeys, it’s worth finding a car that is.

How does a petrol vehicle compare?

We’ve banded some figures around, but what does it all mean?

Simply put, electric cars are cheaper than petrol vehicles to run. An easy comparison is the cost of travelling 100 miles. For a petrol car, this would be around £11, using the average miles per gallon of 50.5. On the other hand, an electric vehicle with a relatively high kWh/100 miles of 30 still comes out much cheaper at only £4.29, using the average electricity tariff of 14.37p per kWh.

With the average person travelling 6530 miles per year, the savings could be up to £438.16 per year. And that’s only from using a less energy efficient electric vehicle!

Of course, these figures can vary depending on where you live, and the savings could be even greater.  

There you have it, everything you need to know about the costs of charging an electric car. It couldn’t be more convenient, cheaper or greener!

To find out more about electric cars, head over to our electrification hub where we have lots more great advice and information. We also have lots more advice on home chargers and how long to charge an electric car over on our EV charging points advice guide.

For any motoring needs, head to your nearest Halfords store or autocentre.