I’d love to be able to give you a straight answer to this question. But this is one of those ‘it depends’ scenarios.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average retail cost to charge an electric vehicle varies from state to state.
For instance, charging a Hyundai Kona EV from 0% to 100% would cost around $9.16 in Colorado and $16.09 in Hawaii, as reported by U.S. News.
Additionally, charging an electric car at home can cost around $56 per month, based on the U.S. household average electricity rate of 16 cents per kWh in October 2022, as stated by Kelley Blue Book.
The cost of charging an electric car depends on various factors, such as electricity rates, battery capacity, charging efficiency, and location. Here’s a quick look at what lessons are in store:
At a Glance:
1️⃣ The cost of charging an EV is influenced by factors such as local electricity rates, charging power and time, the efficiency and battery size of the vehicle, and the type of charging (home or public).
2️⃣ The cost of charging an EV can be influenced by the time of day due to Time of Use (TOU) rates, with off-peak hours typically being cheaper.
3️⃣ There are various incentives, discounts, and special electricity rates for EV owners provided by utility companies, states, and municipalities that can help to lower charging costs significantly.
Determining the Charging Costs
Before you switch to driving an EV, you should be aware of what factors affect how much it costs to charge the models you’re interested in buying.
The primary factor affecting the cost of charging an electric car is your area’s electricity price.
Rates do vary significantly between states and even within different counties. For example, Hawaii had the most expensive electricity in August 2022, with an average cost of 45.73 cents per kWh.
New Hampshire had the highest rate on the mainland at 27.47 cents per kWh. Be sure to research local electricity rates to understand how they will affect your charging costs.
Efficiency and Battery Size
Not all EVs are created equal, and therefore they naturally have varying levels of efficiency and battery size, which can affect the cost of charging.
Some might use more energy from the battery to travel the same distance as others, potentially increasing the electricity usage costs.
Also, a larger battery would require more electricity, which could result in higher costs. Take time to research and compare the efficiency and battery size of various electric car models before committing to your purchase.
Types of Charging
There are a couple of ways that you can think of this concept. The first is two separate EV charging into home/residential charging or public/commercial charging.
The other is to categorize them in terms of AC or DC charging. I’ll use the first scenario to explain.
Home charging is the most convenient option, allowing you to charge your vehicle overnight or when the car is not in use.
Most people rely on Level 1 or Level 2 chargers for home charging. Level 1 charging uses a standard 120-volt household outlet and charges the vehicle at a slower rate, typically providing 3 to 5 miles of range per hour of charging.
Level 2 chargers, on the other hand, use a 240-volt outlet (similar to that used for a clothes dryer) and can provide 10 to 60 miles of range per hour, depending on the vehicle.
The cost of charging an electric car at home largely depends on the area’s electricity cost. For example, as of October 2022, the U.S. household average cost per kilowatt-hour (kWh) is around 16 cents.
In short, installing a charging station at home can be a significant factor in the overall cost of charging an electric car.
Public charging stations offer various charging speeds to accommodate different EV models and charging needs. These stations typically feature Level 2 chargers or DC fast chargers.
DCFC is more powerful and can provide up to 20 miles of range per minute of charging.
Some public charging stations are free to use, while others charge a fee ranging from a flat rate to a per-minute or per-kWh cost.
Fast-charging stations, such as Tesla’s Superchargers, are strategically located along major highways and are more expensive than Level 2 chargers.
The charging costs involved at commercial stations vary depending on the provider and location.
While charging an electric car at home is generally cheaper, public charging stations offer the convenience of charging on the go and the advantage of faster charging speeds.
Factors Influencing Charging Costs
Several factors impact the cost of charging an electric car. This section will discuss the primary influence of location and time of use rates.
The cost of electricity varies across states and county lines due to factors such as local energy sources and distribution infrastructure.
To illustrate this, have a look at the table below, which has various Tesla models and their estimated cost to charge at home.
Time of Use Rates
The time of day you choose to charge will significantly impact how much you pay. Many utility providers offer Time of Use (TOU) rates, which means that the cost per kWh varies depending on the time of day or the electricity demand.
Charging during off-peak hours will save you money. TOU rates can vary by provider and location, so it’s essential to research the specific rates in your area.
Off-peak hours are usually during nighttime and early morning, while peak demand periods occur during the day and early evening.
Ways to Save on Charging Costs
Incentives and Discounts
As part of the broader Inflation Reduction Act, many utility companies, states, and municipalities offer rebates, tax incentives, or reduced electricity rates for EV owners. These incentives can significantly lower the overall charging cost.
For instance, some utilities provide a special electricity rate for EV owners, which can be lower than standard residential rates. If you pair this with the federal EV charger rebate scheme, you could further compound this saving.
Be sure to check with your local utility company or the Alternative Fuels Data Center to learn more about available incentives in your area.
At EV America, we help our readers research and take advantage of these incentives and discounts to maximize their savings.
This is an extension of the TOU section discussed earlier. Off-peak hours are typically late at night and early in the morning when the electricity demand is at its lowest.
Utility companies often offer lower electricity rates during these periods. By planning your charging sessions around off-peak hours, you can reduce the cost of charging your EV.
It’s worth noting that some electric vehicles and home chargers have built-in features to help you schedule your charging sessions during off-peak hours.
Consult your owner’s manual or contact your manufacturer for more information on how to best use these features.
Lastly, adopting energy-efficient driving habits can contribute to lowering your charging costs. Here are a few tips for improving overall energy efficiency while driving:
- Maintain a steady speed and avoid abrupt accelerations to conserve energy.
- Regularly check your tire pressure for optimal energy efficiency.
- Try to minimize the use of air conditioning or heating when possible, as these can significantly increase the energy consumption of your EV.
- Use regenerative braking to recover and store energy when possible.
To quote the Roman poet Ovid’s ‘Habits change into character,’ implementing these energy-efficient driving habits will help you save on charging costs and reduce overall wear and tear, further contributing to cost savings.
The cost of charging an electric car varies depending on location, electricity rates, and battery capacity.
The average cost per kWh in the U.S. is around 16 cents, but it can range from as low as 10 cents to as high as 45 cents in some states.
1️⃣ Factors like regional electricity costs, the power and duration of charging, the vehicle’s efficiency and battery capacity, and the method of charging (whether residential or public) influence the cost to charge an electric vehicle.
2️⃣ Charging an electric vehicle may be subject to Time of Use (TOU) rates, meaning the cost can vary depending on when you charge your vehicle, with off-peak hours usually offering lower rates.
3️⃣ Electric vehicle owners can significantly reduce their charging expenses by taking advantage of a variety of incentives, discounts, and special electricity tariffs offered by utility companies, regional governments, and local municipalities.