Your EV Electric Bill May Vary
The most popular questions around buying an electric vehicle center on the upfront cost of the vehicle, the adequacy of the driving range, and the effective miles-per-gallon rating. But an equally important question has yet to be fully answered: How will plugging in every day impact your electric bill?
As with many questions, there isn't a simple answer.
Nissan Leaf owners, for example, will pay different amounts depending on their utilities, even if they consume the same amount of power as other drivers. The price of electricity varies widely from state to state, but that aside, the rate programs offered by utilities can have a significant impact on the cost of electricity.
Time-of-use rates, which charge consumers significantly more (as high as 10x) per kWh during peak times for any household energy use, are available in some areas of the country. Many utilities are also developing EV specific rates to encourage plugging in overnight. One utility is Southern California Edison, which recently added videos and the Plug-in Car Rate Assistant, a useful tool on its website explaining its EV rate options.
Consumers can select options such as their type of vehicle (EV or plug-in); average amount of energy consumed when charging; and peak versus off peak charging. The tool then selects the most appropriate of SCE's three rate options. Switching to the EV rate can save consumers as much as $500 or more, but also requires the installation (at a cost) of a second meter.
Some utilities such as Pacific Gas and Electric offer tiered rates where customers who use more energy in a month pay higher rates per kWh, so there's the possibility that plugging in could bump customers into the next tier for all of their household electricity use. EV owners in these service territories have a strong incentive to sign up for EV-specific programs.
Avoiding peak times when charging will save money for consumers, but even paying the highest rates is still much cheaper than lining up at the pump. Will consumers who are cutting their "fuel" costs by up to 75 percent put off charging until late evenings to save a dollar or two? The utilities sure hope so.
New to EVs? Start here
Electric Cars Pros and Cons
EVs are a great solution for most people. But not everybody.
Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
A few simple tips before you visit the dealership.
Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
Take advantage of credits and rebates to reduce EV costs.
Buying Your First Home EV Charger
You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.
The Ultimate Guide to Electric Car Charging Networks
If you plan to charge in public, you'll want to sign up for charging network membership (or two).
Electric Vehicle Charging for Businesses
How do you ensure that electric car owners will be happy with every visit to your charging spot?
How to Use the PlugShare EV Charging Station Tool
Locate EV charging stations and optimize their use with a powerful mobile app.
Quick Charging of Electric Cars
Add 50 to 60 miles of range in about 20 minutes. Here's how.
The Real Price of EV Public Charging
Compare the cost of charging on the road to what you pay at home.
Electric Vehicle Charging Etiquette
Thou shalt charge only when necessary. And other rules to live by.