According to the US Department of Energy, electric vehicle (EV) drivers pay an average of $1.22 to travel a distance equivalent to how far a gallon of gasoline would take a conventional car. Based on that logic, it seems obvious that EVs would save their owners money. However, it’s important to realize that those figures assume that you’re paying around the national average rate for your electricity. Depending on exactly where you live, that may not be the case. Therefore, it’s useful to know how to figure out how much your EV is actually costing you to operate so that you can figure out how much — or how little — it’s saving you. Here’s how to do that.
Understand EV Mileage Estimates
To figure out if your EV is saving you money, you’ll first need to understand how EV manufacturers talk about average mileage. Since EVs don’t use gasoline, you won’t find a miles per gallon (MPG) estimate for them. Instead, you’ll see their average mileage listed as kilowatt-hours consumed per 100 miles.
On its own, that mileage rating won’t help you very much. To compare your EV’s costs against a comparable gasoline-powered car, you’ll have to do some math first. You’ll need to find out how much you’re paying per kilowatt hour on your home electricity bill. Then, you’ll need to multiply your EV’s kWh/100 miles rating by that number. That will tell you how much you’re paying in electricity for every 100 miles you drive. So, if you own an EV that consumes 25 kWh per 100 miles, and you pay 12.26 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity, it will cost you about $3.06 to drive 100 miles in your EV.
To compare that to a gasoline-powered vehicle, you’ll have to do some different math. You’ll need to take the vehicle’s average MPG rate and multiply it by the cost of gasoline in gallons. Then, you’ll need to normalize the result to an even 100 miles. So, for example, if your comparison vehicle averages 29 miles per gallon, and a gallon of gas costs $3.25, that means it costs you about $11.20 to drive 100 miles in that vehicle, on average.
Fortunately, Electricity Prices Are Fairly Stable
Now that you know how to estimate the costs of operating your EV versus a comparable gas-powered vehicle, you might be wondering how electricity costs compare to those of gasoline. Although there’s no way to make a true apples-to-apples comparison, it’s possible to gauge their relative price stability over time.
Gasoline prices, as most people know, fluctuate all the time. That’s why you could drive past a gas station on a Monday and see a price that’s quite different than you’d see at the same station the following Monday. That volatility can have a huge impact on how much it will cost you to operate a gasoline-powered vehicle.
Electricity rates, on the other hand, are remarkably stable. Even though lots of people in the US saw their electricity rates rise over the past year, the increases paled in comparison to what happened to the prices of gasoline.
To illustrate this, consider the following. Using the average costs for gasoline and electricity, it would have cost you an average of $9.33 to drive 100 miles in an average gasoline-powered vehicle in February of 2019. That same month, it cost EV owners an average of $4.72 to cover that same distance.
By February 2022, however, things had changed dramatically for owners of gasoline-powered vehicles. By then, it cost them an average of $14.08 to drive their vehicles 100 miles. And while costs for EV owners increased, too, they only rose to an average of $5.14. In other words, EV owners don’t see anywhere near the kinds of price spikes that other drivers see at the gas pump.
Beware of Fluctuating Power Costs
If figuring out how much it’s costing you to drive your EV was as simple as the equations above, however, you likely wouldn’t be here reading this. The reason it’s not that simple is the fact that very few people pay the exact same rates to charge their EVs at all times. Plus, you won’t always have a handy price sign to look at when you charge, like you would when you visit a conventional gas station.
For example, if your house’s electricity supplier has you on a time-of-use system, you might pay different amounts to charge your EV at different times of the day. And there are always occasions when you’ll have to charge your EV away from home. That means you’ll also have to keep track of the rates charged by any public charging stations you visit.
All of this means you’ll have quite a bit of work to do if you want to keep accurate track of your EV charging costs. Or, you could make it your business to try and minimize your costs as much as possible, so you don’t have to worry about every nickel and dime you spend.
Minimizing Your EV Charging Costs
In general, there are three main ways for EV owners to minimize their charging costs. The first way is to install a Level-2 EV charger in their home. Doing so would allow you to charge your EV overnight since Level-2 chargers typically take between eight and 12 hours to fully charge the average EV. That should help you to do as much of your charging at home, where the costs of electricity are lower compared to public charging stations.
Next, if you haven’t already, you can ask your electricity company about their time-of-use rate plans to see if any could save you money during the hours you charge your vehicle. In many cases, doing so could save you substantial sums because off-peak rates usually fall between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. That means you’d be paying the lowest rates overnight when you’d typically charge your car for the following day.
Finally, the last great way to minimize EV charging costs is to explore having a solar power system added to your property. Doing so can cut your overall electricity costs, including what you spend to charge your EV. Right now is an excellent time to consider solar power since available federal tax credits for such systems are at an all-time high.
Consult the Electrical Experts
Now that you know everything you need to know to figure out if your EV is saving you money, chances are, it is. And if it isn’t, we’ve let you know how you can lower your EV’s charging costs. Best of all, the experts here at Arc Angel Electric can help you to get the most out of your EV. We specialize in the installation of residential EV charging stations as well as offering comprehensive electrical services ranging from new circuit and electrical panel installation to whole-home rewiring and standby generator installation. You won’t find a more reliable electrician in the greater Atlanta and South Carolina Lowcountry areas.
So, if you already have or are considering buying an EV, contact Arc Angel Electric today so that we can prepare your home’s electrical system for it with a new charger and anything else it requires!