How to make the most of public EV charging and save money | AA Cars

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 really 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 Chargemaster’s Polar Plus membership thanks to its 7,000 charge points dotted across the UK. 

Subscription grants you access to plenty of free chargers. 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 £7.50 to rapid charge it if you’re a Polar Plus member- based on a 15p per kWh tariff. If you’re not a member, it would cost £12.50 (25p per kWh). That means after two rapid charges, you’ll have already 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 plenty of free points to use. 

Free chargers are typically found in car parks and shopping centres, for example, to attract the growing number of electric car owners to charge their cars there. Some supermarkets offer free electric car charging as well – such as Tesco stores offering use of 7kW chargers.

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 Polar as an example again. Its regular chargers cost 18p per kWh (non-membership), but if you used one of its fastest 150kW chargers, it would cost 35p 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 Ionity – have the highest tariff. It charges a steep 69p per kWh, but that’s because its 350 kW chargers are quicker than most others in the UK. As for regular 50kW chargers, Ecotricity and Shell are some of the most expensive (both costing users 39p per kWh). Polar and Pod Point are two of the cheapest – charging 25p and 23p respectively. 

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. 


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