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Low carbon travel

Charging electric vehicles

Benefits

  • find the right chargepoint for your needs
  • reduce your carbon footprint
  • save money

Our new Charging Electric Vehicles Best Practice Guide provides information and advice on where and how to charge your electric vehicle (EV) to get the most driving range out of your battery and reduce costs. Learn about different chargers, public and at home, and other avenues of support and funding that can make charging and owning an electric vehicle easier.

Electric vehicle chargepoints explained

Although the upfront cost of an electric vehicle is often higher, EVs can be cheaper to run, due to the lower cost of electricity compared to petrol or diesel. Recharging at home (overnight) will normally result in the greatest cost savings.

Chargepoints can be installed in homes with a garage or driveway, at workplaces, on residential streets, in town centres, public car parks and at destinations, such as shopping centres or motorway service stations.

Types of chargepoints

Slow chargepoints

Slow chargepoints are often the cheapest to use and are suitable when vehicles are parked for several hours, such as during working hours or overnight.

Fast chargepoints

Fast chargepoints ideal when vehicles are parked for a few hours.

Rapid chargepoints

Rapid chargepoints are the quickest way to recharge a vehicle, typically recharging a vehicle to 80% in around 30 minutes. However, rapid chargepoints can be the most expensive to use, and they cannot be installed at home.

Slow (3kW)Fast (7-22kW) Rapid (50kW)
Charge time (from empty to 80% charge of a 60kWh battery)16 hours 2-7 hours1 hour
Vehicle range added in 15 mins (based on an average EV efficiency of 2.42 miles per kWh) 2 miles 4-13 miles 30 miles

Charging at home

The majority of charging your vehicle will be done at home, usually overnight. If you have a driveway or garage, the cheapest and most convenient way is to install a dedicated chargepoint.

The Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV)’s Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme covers up to 75% of the costs of installing a home chargepoint, up to a limit of £350.

Smart charging can be used to make savings when charging your EV. It can also help balance the electricity grid by charging your EV during off-peak times, such as overnight, when there is less demand for electricity. Find out more about smart charging here.

While you can use a regular UK three-pin socket, it is much slower than a dedicated chargepoint and may involve running charging cables from inside your home.

Extension cables should not be used for safety reasons.

Installing a chargepoint

The Electric Vehicle Consumer Code for Home Chargepoints (EVCC) aims to give consumers the confidence to install a charger at home, and ensure that manufacturers, suppliers and installers consistently deliver the highest quality of work. Find out more about EVCC, as well as its members, at www.electric-vehicle.org.uk.

If you’re planning to install an EV chargepoint at home, you need to register the energy device with your Distribution Network Operator (DNO). The DNO is the company responsible for bringing electricity to your home. Usually, your installer will register the device for you.

The UK Government has advice on how to register your new energy device in England, Scotland and Wales.

On-street charging

If you don’t have off-street parking, charging an EV near your home is more challenging.

The On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme gives local authorities access to a funding pot for on-street chargepoints in areas without off-street parking.

Only local authorities can apply for this type of funding, but you can ask your local council to consider installing a chargepoint near your home. This may help the council to forecast demand for chargepoints and decide the best locations.

An alternative is to charge your electric car at work. Businesses and public-sector organisations can apply for funding for chargepoints through the Workplace Charging Scheme.

Changing your energy tariff

If you are charging your EV at home, your electricity bills will increase. It is therefore essential to shop around to make sure you are on a suitable electricity tariff.

  • You could save £300 a year by switching to a cheap fixed-rate energy tariff of £0.14/kWh. With an average annual mileage of 7,400 miles, that works out to around 5,186 ‘free’ electric miles a year.
  • Find out if you can switch to an off-peak tariff to benefit from cheap overnight electricity. Some energy companies offer tariffs that would reward you for charging your car at off-peak times, such as overnight. Switching to an Economy 7 tariff could cut the cost of your electricity bill.
  • Look out for new types of ‘smart’ off-peak tariffs which could save you even more money. Smart meters will make it easier for energy suppliers to offer new types of ‘smart’ off-peak tariffs that could help you save money when you charge your vehicle at off-peak times. These tariffs may also give you the option to get your supplier to charge your car at the cheapest possible time in the day, for guaranteed savings, such as when it is windy, to take advantage of renewable power. Find out more about smart charging here.
  • Discounted electricity tariffs for electric vehicle drivers. Some energy suppliers have started to offer discounts to energy bill payers who lease or own an electric vehicle.
  • Check if you can get a smart meter. A smart meter records how much energy you use in pounds and pence, so could help you work out exactly how much it costs you to charge your car. It will also put an end to estimated bills because the smart meter will tell your energy supplier how much electricity you’re using.

Public charging networks

The network of public chargepoints is rapidly expanding across the UK, mostly in towns and cities. These are vital for electric vehicle drivers without off-street parking or workplace charging and can be useful for other EV drivers, who want to ‘top-up’ while away from home or undertaking longer journeys.

You can search for chargepoints on a range of websites including:

Some newer electric vehicles can travel up to 300 miles on a single charge. While it is still worth planning ahead on longer journeys, public chargepoints are more common than ever before.

Accessing and paying at public chargepoints

There are various chargepoint networks in the UK including Pod Point, Chargemaster, Ecotricity, Charge your Car and ChargePlace Scotland.

Access to charging is usually through a radio frequency identification (RFID) card or a smartphone app, although an increasing number of chargepoints accept contactless credit or debit card payments.

Charging costs include a standard connection fee, plus the amount of electricity consumed, multiplied by the chargepoint supplier’s or network’s electricity tariff (price per kWh).

Membership of a charging network may give you access to cheaper rates and could save you money if you use the same network regularly.

Home versus public charging costs

Charging costs will depend on the model of your vehicle and its battery size. Plug-in hybrids cost less to recharge as they have smaller batteries, but you also need to factor in the higher cost of the petrol or diesel required for the vehicle’s engine.

The petrol and diesel cost will vary depending on how frequently the car is recharged and driven on the battery power.

Where should I charge my electric vehicle?

LocationCost
Charging the battery at home for 10,000 miles per year£568.00
Charging the battery at a public charge point for 10,000 miles per year£1,297.78
Charging 70% of the time at home and 30% at a public charge point£786.78
Annual fuel cost for petrol Nissan Micra£1,415.00
Example charging costs for a petrol Nissan Micra. Average petrol cost: 114.5p/litre

Driving tips to make the most of each charge

You can extend the range of your electric vehicle by adopting ecodriving techniques and working with your vehicle’s features. We recommend that you:

  • Anticipate the road ahead to avoid harsh acceleration and braking.
  • Watch your speed.
  • Consider how you use the heating and air conditioning, (for example, pre-heat the car while plugged-in to avoid consuming energy from the battery at the beginning of the journey).
  • Understand and using your vehicle’s eco-mode or features.

Find out more about ecodriving.

Additional resources

Last updated: 15 September 2021