How the right electricity plan can help you save money on charging

Charging an electric vehicle at home often increases monthly electricity costs by $30-$60 or more a month. To estimate your cost of charging at home, multiply your vehicle’s kWh/100 miles figure by the electric rate for the time of day you’ll most often be charging. That figure will tell you the cost per 100 miles. EIA has a table that allows you to identify the average cost per kilowatt-hour of electricity by state. 

Of course, choosing the right electricity rate plan from your utility company based on your consumption needs can greatly affect your electricity costs each month..

Tiered vs Time of Use electricity rates

Many people don’t realize that electric utility companies offer several different rate plans to choose from, including tiered and time of use rate.

Tiered rates incentivize lower overall consumption during each billing period by providing a lower rate for customers that stay under their published energy allowance.

Pros: 

  • Electricity remains at one price as long as you stay under their published monthly energy allowance 
  • You don’t need to strategize daily energy use or activities based on the time of day 

Cons:

  • Rates increase if you go over your “Baseline Usage” or published monthly energy allowance

Time of Use (TOU) rates incentivize energy consumption during certain hours of the day when demand is typically less, and renewable energy resources are more active, aka “off peak”. For example,  off-peak hours generally run from 6pm to 2pm during summer months in the Eastern Time Zone when demand for electricity is lower. 

Pros: 

  • You can move your higher energy activities to off-peak hours to save money
  • You can take advantage of lower rates during lower energy consumption times
  • You utilize more renewable energy sources like wind and solar

Cons:

  • EV charging is relegated to off-peak hours and not on-demand

For EV owners, it all comes down to lifestyle and personal preference. EV owners who mostly utilize surrounding charging station infrastructure, the consistent price of Tiered Rates may benefit them. For those who do more charging at home, TOU Rates offer lower prices for those overnight charging opportunities and a little piece of mind knowing you’re contributing to sustainable energy sources.

Smart charging

Smart Charging is a way EV owners can time their charging for when electricity is the cheapest and also the cleanest. EV owners can save 50% or more on energy costs by charging off-peak. Generally, there are two ways to do this — through some Level 2 chargers or some vehicle console interfaces. 

Level 2 charger smart charging

Smart charging is a feature on some Level 2 chargers that enables you to ensure that your EV only charges when it would be cheapest, based on the electricity rate you’ve selected with your utility provider. This is generally only useful on TOU rates. An alternative version of Smart Charging available as a feature on some chargers is the ability to charge when your local electricity grid is consuming the least amount of fossil fuels.

Vehicle console smart charging

Smart Charging can also be set up from the vehicle using the center console interface. To use this setup, you’ll need to check with your utility provider about when energy is cheapest, configure your EV to charge at those hours, plug in the charger when you park the EV, and the EV will start accepting the charge when you’ve configured it to. This is a standard feature on most, if not all, EVs, but it’s typically buried deep in the user interface so you may need to read the user manual.

Sources:
https://www.investopedia.com/how-much-does-it-cost-to-charge-an-electric-car-5186285
https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.php?t=epmt_5_06_b
https://apnews.com/article/lifestyle-technology-business-electric-vehicles-8f281ff0e72430278ed5cd1bfb8c7e9f
https://www.apt4power.com/2021/03/30/tiered-rates-vs-time-of-use-rates-what-to-know/
https://ecocostsavings.com/cost-of-charging-electric-car-at-home/
https://www.cnet.com/home/energy-and-utilities/peak-and-off-peak-energy-explainer-when-is-the-cheapest-time-to-use-electricity-and-save-money/

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