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Low carbon travel

Charging electric vehicles

Benefits

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

Find out how to charge your electric vehicle (EV) to get the most driving range out of your battery, to reduce the cost of recharging. 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

Battery electric vehicle charging times (assumed from 20% state of charge)

Average EV battery size25kWh 50kWh 75kWh 100kWh 200kWh
Chargepoint Power output
7.4 kW3h 45m 7h 45m 10h 13h 30m 59h 15m
11 kW 2h 5h 15m 6h 45m 9h 16h 9m
22 kW 1h3h 4h 30m 6h8h 4m
50 kW 36m 53m 1h 20m 1h 48m 3h 33m
120 kW 11m 22m 33m44m1h 28m
150 kW 10m 18m 27m36m 1h 11m
240 kW 6m 12m 17m 22m44m
350 kW 3m 7m 11m 15m30m
Battery charging times are universally calculated from 20%. With rapid charging, the charging speed can slow down above an 80% state of charge.

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 EV chargepoint grant, is available to owner/occupiers of flats and renters of residential property with off-street parking. Landlords can apply for the EV chargepoint grant for landlords. Both of these cover up to 75% of the costs of installing a home chargepoint, up to a limit of £350. Also available for private or social landlords is the EV infrastructure grant for residential car parks that can help fund the installation of cabling for EV chargepoints.

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.

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. These cables do not have as many safety features as a type 2 cable, and should not be used as a long-term solution for home charging.

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 and Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure scheme gives local authorities access to funding 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. 
  • 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.

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£523.18
Charging the battery at a public chargepoint for 10,000 miles per year£1,297.78
Charging 70% of the time at home and 30% at a public chargepoint£755.55
Annual fuel cost for petrol Nissan Micra£1,554.64
Example charging costs for a petrol car. Average petrol cost: 125.8p/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.

Last updated: 4 July 2024