With household budgets feeling the squeeze amid the cost of living crisis, electric vehicles have emerged as a popular option for motorists looking to cut down on petrol and diesel expenses.
Everyone’s looking to save money on household bills, and so attention is turning to electric vehicle (EV) energy tariffs.
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There are about 1 million fully electric cars on UK roads. EV tariffs offer drivers the chance to charge their vehicle’s batteries for less.
So, how do they work and are they worth switching to?
What is an EV tariff?
EV energy tariffs are specifically targeted at drivers of electric vehicles so they can charge their vehicles at home in the most affordable way. The options currently available on the market work similar to Economy 7 and time of use (TOU) tariffs.
How this works is that you get discounted electricity unit rates for charging your vehicle during off-peak hours – typically overnight.
Although the time frame for these discounted rates might be an hour or two shorter compared to other tariffs, your day rates may be less expensive – albeit still higher than with standard tariffs under the price cap.
While EV tariffs are aimed at electric vehicle owners, the cheaper unit rates apply to all electricity usage during off-peak hours. This means you can save money on household activities, whether it’s running a washing machine or dishwasher, or to power an electric blanket.
Variable EV tariffs offering a dual-rate are covered by the Ofgem energy price cap, while fixed deals are not. Suppliers have to come in below a weighted average unit rate that considers typical day and night usage for households.
The exact rate varies by region; customers can contact their suppliers to find out what their cap is.
Am I eligible for an EV tariff?
Many suppliers also require you to be an existing customer if you’re to sign up for an EV energy tariff. If you aren’t already with that provider, you may have to switch to one of their other tariffs before switching across to their EV-specific deal.
On top of this, you’ll likely need to provide proof of owning an electric vehicle. Some suppliers have restrictions on the makes and models they cover, so it’s worth checking whether the vehicle you have or want to buy is included.
For example, Ovo Energy has a full list of EVs it will supply energy for. Your provider may also only support certain types or brands of chargers.
Another key thing to check when signing up for this kind of tariff is whether it’s single or dual fuel. Some suppliers offer electricity-only products, meaning if you have gas, you will need to get a separate tariff for it.
Is it worth getting an EV tariff?
You can potentially save hundreds of pounds a year with an EV tariff compared to if you stick with a standard tariff. Exactly how much you save will depend on the type of vehicle you own, usage, driving distances and how much you can shift your general energy consumption to off-peak times.
Introducing an EV into your household can potentially increase your energy consumption by up to 50%. However, current EV tariffs provide off-peak rates substantially cheaper than those offered by Economy 7 tariffs (although time-of-use tariffs can vary daily so it’s hard to compare).
As long as you’re doing the bulk of your charging at home and this is taking place outside of peak hours, an EV tariff is likely to be a good bet to keep your bills down.
According to Ovo, charging an EV with its Charge Anytime tariff works out at less than 3p a mile – around 75% less than the price of petrol. Meanwhile, Good Energy says you can get a full charge for £3.76 with its Smart Meter EV tariff.
If you are thinking about buying an electric vehicle, it’s worth looking at which suppliers offer bundles that may help you save on charger installation costs.
For example, E.on Next is currently offering £50 off a home charger. The government also offers a chargepoint grant of £350 (or 75% off the cost of getting a socket) if you live in a flat or rented accommodation.
Which are the best EV tariffs?
We’ve done some digging into the latest EV tariff offerings from the biggest energy suppliers across the UK. Here’s the lowdown of what’s currently available.
In most cases, the off-peak prices are locked in for a year.
|Tariff name (and key info)
|Off-peak unit rate (per kWh)
|Number of off-peak hours
|Charge Anytime (free tariff add-on that offers credit for smart charging)
|7p (EV charging only)
|Pod Point EV Exclusive (only available to Pod Point customers)
|5 (7 days a week)
|EV Saver (TOU)
|5 (7 days a week)
|Intelligent Octopus Go (variable + you have to smart charge)
|6 (7 days a week)
|Electric Driver (TOU; no exit fees)
|5 (7 days a week)
|GoElectric Overnight (fixed 1 year; £75 exit fee per fuel)
|5 (7 days a week)
|4 (7 days a week)
|Smart Meter EV (variable)
|5 (7 days a week)
|Next Drive (TOU; no exit fees)
|7 (7 days a week)
Prices correct as of 8 February 2024
How to save money with an EV tariff
Here are a few ways to maximise your savings with an EV tariff:
- Optimise your EV charging: If you have a smart charger, take advantage of off-peak times by powering up your vehicle when costs are at their lowest. You’ll be able to manage your battery’s charge level and set a minimum threshold to prevent your EV from running low.
- Use your energy-hungry appliances at night: Whether it’s dishwashing duties or laundry day, it’s time to rethink your appliance schedule. EV tariffs allow you to use any electricity at a discounted price in off-peak hours, so you can save on your energy bills by using energy-hungry appliances at a cheaper time.
- Watch out for daylight savings: Clock adjustments could alter your off-peak windows by an hour depending on the season. Make sure to stay on top of these changes by checking with your energy supplier.
- Drive your EV efficiently: Driving safely can mean saving big on charging, whether at home or on the road. By adopting economical driving habits like smooth acceleration and braking, sticking to speed limits and not overusing your heating or air con you could reduce your overall charging needs and keep costs down.
Oojal has achieved a Master's degree in International Journalism from Cardiff University. She has written for several Newsquest dailies, Voice Wales, DIVA Magazine and Sony Music. Her work has revolved around covering critical social issues, such as the cost of living crisis, student poverty, industrial action, LGBTQIA+ issues and mental health. When she's not immersed in all things editorial, you can either find her walking around the streets of Cardiff, at Cineworld watching the latest film, or scrolling through cat reels wondering when she might bring one home.
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