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.

Shop EV chargers

You’ve probably also noticed EV charging points appearing in 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.

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 typically 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 congestion charges until April 2025.

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 bear in mind 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.
  • Electricity tariffs – You know your mileage and how much energy is needed for your chosen car for such a distance, but the exact cost will depend on your energy provider. Many providers offer specific tariffs for EVs, such as the GoElectric tariffs from EDF Energy, so make sure you do some research to find the best deal for you. Then, if you know how many kWh your vehicle needs, you can calculate a specific cost based on your energy tariff.
  • Top tip – Charging your car overnight (or ‘off-peak’) is not only convenient, but could save you money. While you can manually plug your car in to charge overnight, any EV home chargers installed after 30th June 2022 default to charging during off-peak hours anyway, 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 in our Guide to EV Charging.

If you want to know more about the 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.

Shop EV home chargers

Cost to charge an electric car at work

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, you should still expect to do most of the charging at home.

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. How much they will charge your battery per hour will vary so it’s worth checking beforehand.

A 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?

Generally speaking, an electric vehicle is likely to cost you less than a petrol vehicle over the course of ownership. The ability to take advantage of off-peak electricity charging and EV-specific tariffs, as well as the fact that electric cars usually require less maintenance than those with internal combustion engines, means that electric vehicles can be a smart long-term investment.

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 to arrange an installation on our Electric Vehicle Home Charging page.

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

Back to Expert Advice