How to make the most of public EV charging and save money
When it comes to EVs, charging can be confusing at first.
If you’ve been driving a petrol or diesel car for years, you’ll be used to stopping for fuel every week or so, paying and then setting off. So it might now seem strange to suddenly have to plug your electric car in at home for hours on end or find chargers in selected car parks.
But it’s where you can save yourself money, compared to petrol or diesel refuelling. It’s even more cost-effective if you can cleverly use public charging to your advantage. Here’s how you can make the most of public charging and save money.
Consider getting a membership with an EV provider
If you think you’re going to be using public chargers regularly, it’s worth considering a subscription to an electric car charging provider. One of the best is BP Pulse’s full membership thanks to its 9,000 charge points, including 3,000 rapid and ultra-rapid chargers, dotted across the UK.
Whether you’re using a standard public charger or a rapid charger, you’ll always pay less for your electricity than a non-member, too. The Polar Plus membership, for example, costs £7.85 per month. If you have a car with a 50kWh battery, it will cost you £27.50 to rapid charge it if you’re a member - based on a 55p per kWh tariff. If you’re not a member, it would cost £34.50 (69p per kWh). That means after just one charge, you’ll nearly have saved the difference by having the membership.
Look for free chargers
Everyone loves a freebie, and that applies to EV charging, too, because there are various free charging points dotted across the UK.
Due to rising electricity rates, the number has dropped in recent years, but you’re still able to find free chargers, which are often found at shopping centres and workplaces to incentivise you to charge there and use their facilities.
Using these can help to bring your running costs down even further. You can find free chargers with electric car service Zap-Map’s free app.
Avoid rapid chargers to save money
Rapid chargers help charge your car’s batteries the quickest, so they cost more to use than regular public chargers.
Electric car charging firms’ tariffs are typically based on the price per kilowatt (kWh). Take BP Pulse as an example again. Its regular chargers cost 57p per kWh (non-membership), but if you used one of its fastest 150kW chargers, it would cost 69p per kWh.
While it’s definitely convenient to charge more quickly, it’s worth finding a standard charger instead of a rapid charger – as long as you have the time to spare – as it really could help you save money.
Remember that electric car charging with different firms brings different tariffs
Just like some fuel brands charge more for petrol and diesel than others, the same is true for electric car charging firms as well.
The firms with the quickest charging speeds – such as Shell Recharge – have the highest tariff. It charges a steep 85p per kWh. Tesco’s PodPoint chargers are some of the cheapest for rapid charging, being priced at 62p per kWh.
On the plus side, unlike petrol stations which raise and lower their prices regularly and vary costs depending on location, EV charging firms largely have standardised pricing.
Prices correct at time of publication [05/2023].