Costs to Charge an Electric Car

By
Laurance Yap
Updated:
Sep 2022
Time to read:
5
min
When you switch to an electric car, one of the first things you’ll notice is that you won’t be buying gasoline anymore. But how much will your electrical bill go up when you charge at home overnight? Read on to find out. 
Woman charging the car

Are you thinking of purchasing an electric car? There are many benefits to making the switch. For instance, ongoing maintenance is much cheaper on an EV than on a conventional gas-powered car or truck. The performance, smoothness, and low noise levels are addictive and you’ll be getting the latest technology.

The biggest benefit of going electric is how much you’ll save on fuel. With gasoline prices at all-time highs, the savings from driving an electric car are better than ever. Depending on your driving habits, you may end up saving hundreds of dollars a month – and will never have to visit a gas station again!

Will Charging an Electric Car Raise My Electric Bill?

We all know how much it costs per month to put gas in our cars. When you switch to an electric car, one of the first things you’ll notice is that you won’t be buying gasoline anymore.

Then you will notice a bump in your monthly electric bill. On average, charging your electric car will cost you less than half as much as fueling a gasoline-powered vehicle. With a bit of patience, you can predict how much electricity you will use to charge your EV and what it will cost you.

Your Electric Car’s Efficiency

Using our Buyer’s Guide on GreenCars, you can compare the electric cars you are considering. Not all electric cars are created equal. Just as with gas-powered cars bigger, heavier and higher-performance vehicles use more energy to operate.

Efficiency can be measured in a number of different ways. One method is measured in MPkWh, or miles per kilowatt-hour. The higher the MPkWh, the more efficient the vehicle.

You may also see ratings for kWh/100 miles. Or many manufacturers and media outlets are now using a MPGe (or miles per gallon equivalent) rating; this gives you a sense of the overall efficiency of the vehicle you are considering.

Your energy bill will measure kilowatt-hours (kWh). Using either the miles per kilowatt-hour or the kWh/100 miles figure, you can determine how much electricity you’ll use to charge your electric car.

For instance, if you drive 1,500 miles a month and your electric car is rated at 35 kWh/100 miles, then you’ll use 525 kWh to charge your vehicle on a monthly basis.

In the United States, the cost of power can vary dramatically from over $0.23 per kWh in Rhode Island to less than $0.10 in Washington state, where cheap hydro power is used. Californians pay almost $0.20 per kWh, while just to the north in Oregon, it’s about half that much.

Using $0.20/kWh for electricity, our theoretical 525 kWh to drive 1,500 miles would cost us $105. What would that cost you in gasoline? A fuel-efficient gasoline car that gets 40 miles per gallon (MPG) would use 37.5 gallons of fuel to drive the same 1,500 miles. At $4/gallon, that’s $150!

Now you have an idea of how much your monthly bill will increase. Just remember, that while your electric bill will go up, you will not be buying any gasoline each month!

Get The Best Rate

Make sure you are getting the best possible rate from your electric company. Check to see if your plan has a separate electric car charging rate. Suppliers that offer these plans charge less for electric car owners.

This requires that you have an electric car charger installed at your home to qualify for separate electricity use. A charging station may cost you $1,000 or more to buy and install, but there are local and regional incentives available to reduce this out-of-pocket expense. You can research those incentives right here on GreenCars.

Check if your electricity provider has a time-of-use electric plan in which the cost of electricity fluctuates throughout the day. Your cost for charging can be different depending on whether you plug in your electric car during peak, mid-peak, or off-peak hours.

Save Time and Money When Public Charging

Depending on which electric vehicle you drive, activating the battery preconditioning function ensures the fastest charge times, letting you get on your way sooner if you’re on a trip and using a public charger. Since public charging is expensed by the minute, preconditioning will save you money as well as time.

Often the best way to do this is by programming a charger as a destination in the navigation system; your car, knowing you’ll be charging, will heat or cool the battery to accept the fastest charge automatically. 

One thing worth noting: a nearly empty battery will charge faster than a nearly-full one – you’ll notice charging speeds tail off as you start to fill the battery up – so plan to drive longer distances between fast-charging stops and pre-condition the battery before each stop to save the most time.

Driving Electric is Less Expensive

On average, electric vehicles are less expensive per mile to operate than gas-powered vehicles. A real-world test by Forbes using a Tesla Model S found that a full charge based on a range of 259 miles cost $13 in the United States, which averages to just a nickel per mile. During the same period, Americans were paying 15 cents per mile for gasoline on average, based on $2.96 per gallon – now, they’re paying a lot more!

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