Sunday, July 21, 2024

If you own an electric vehicle, plan your charging session to save more

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The big picture that many see with the purchase of an electric vehicle includes reduced expenses for some time. If you are part of the American population that purchased 1.4 million electric vehicles, you may have experienced a surprise after the first month of EV charging. It likely resulted in a higher than expected energy bill.

Adding an EV to your electric load and driving an average of 40 miles per day could increase energy bills by 30% to 65% in California, depending on whether you charge your vehicles during peak or off-peak hours, according to Mark Rawson, senior vice president of strategy and partnerships at Rhythmos.io (an EV charging optimization platform for utilities and fleets).

This extra expense on your electric bill replaces your weekly trips to the gas station, but you’re potentially missing out on savings if you don’t shop around for energy plans. Here’s what EV owners and those interested in EVs need to know about shopping for an electric plan that works best for them.

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We will help you find the best electricity rates in your area.

How owning an electric vehicle changes your energy consumption

Charging your vehicle at home could significantly increase your electricity bill: Charging your vehicle at home during peak hours with a typical Level 2 EV charger is “the equivalent of adding a whole new house” to your energy bill, Rawson said.

To reduce these costs, it’s essential to determine how much you’ll need to charge your vehicle, how often you’ll plug it in, and when you’ll charge it. Shifting your charging schedule to off-peak hours — ideally overnight when electricity demand drops — will reduce the impact of adding an EV to your energy load. There’s also the matter of choosing an energy plan that works in your favor.

Kitchen lamps Kitchen lamps

We will help you find the best electricity rates in your area.

How to know if you have options in energy plans

Depending on where you live, you may be able to choose who supplies the electricity that powers your home (including renewable options), though your utility will still be locked in most states. This is called energy deregulation, and these options are only available in some form in 18 states and the District of Columbia. For a full list of states that currently offer energy choices to consumers, check out this CNET guide.

Even if you don’t live in a deregulated state, Rawson said it’s still a good idea to check your power company’s website and see if it offers options or plans for EV owners. Since EVs put a heavy load on the grid, state governments and electric utility companies may offer incentives to encourage you to charge your EV during off-peak hours.

What type of electricity plan should you consider if you have an electric vehicle?

For those living in a deregulated state, it may be time to go shopping. Depending on your state, comparing plans from different energy providers could be as simple as accessing a website. In other places, you may have to gather quotes or rely on third-party aggregators to compare prices.

In any case, electric plans come in two main flavors: fixed or variable. With the former, you’ll be locked into a single price per kilowatt-hour up to a certain number of kilowatt-hours. If you need to charge your EV frequently, at all hours of the day, you might be better off with a fixed-rate plan that won’t offer you much in terms of potential savings, but will be predictable.

Most EV owners will probably want to consider a variable-rate plan, which charges different electricity rates depending on the time of day, affecting the demand placed on the grid. For example, prices are typically highest during peak hours after work (say, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.) and cheapest at night, when most people are asleep. If you could delay charging until then, you could save money on your energy bill.

Dynamic tariff plans turn energy purchasing into a kind of live market, but these plans are typically reserved for commercial consumers, such as factories.

What to know before choosing an energy plan

Consumers should be careful when shopping for an energy plan. Some bad actors offer what seem like great rates at first, only to jack up prices after the end of a promotional period. All of this should be laid out in the plan’s fine print, so review any contract carefully before signing it. You’ll also want to stay away from plans that charge egregious fees on top of the kilowatt-hour price. As a general rule, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

For EV owners, Rawson offers some questions to consider to get the best deal: How much will you drive every day? Will you need to recharge daily? How much do you need to charge? What does that translate to in terms of kilowatt-hours? These things can be hard to nail down at first, but you can make estimates based on your current driving and the average power requirements of the EV you have in mind.

“Once they understand what their energy needs are,” Rawson said, “they can start looking at what the utility is offering to see what the implications are, when they should be getting paid and what the cost impact will be from getting paid during those periods.”

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