- Scheduling your charge to start at the cheapest or cleanest times of night is called smart charging
- You can switch to a home energy tariff designed for electric car drivers with cheap off-peak periods, known as EV Tariffs
- These off-peak periods usually coincide with when the UK's electricity grid is cleanest
- Off-peak periods are typically between midnight and 7am so you will need to use your charge point or car to schedule your charge
- Smart charging saves the average driver over £230 per year compared to charging on a standard energy tariff and reduces emissions from charging by an average of 25%
Compare charge points (look for the smart charging label for charge points with the ability to schedule)
What is smart charging?
Smart charging is scheduling your charge for the off-peak periods of your home energy tariff. To do this, you'll need to switch to an EV friendly energy tariff with cheap off-peak periods, and install a smart charge point that can figure out when to start and stop your charge based on your needs.
EV friendly tariffs
Recharging with electricity at home is as much as 90% cheaper than refuelling with petrol or diesel but you will be using a lot of power. So, it more than often justifies a switch of tariff in order to save as much as possible. The right energy tariff can save the average driver over £230 per year compared to not switching at all once you've got your electric car.
If you can charge at home overnight, 'EV Tariffs' (designed specifically for electric vehicle drivers) are often the cheapest and cleanest way to do it.
A number of energy suppliers have developed EV Tariffs. These tariffs usually have a day rate and night rate for electricity. The night rate is often applied some time between midnight and 7am, giving you a few hours to charge off-peak overnight.
The energy tariff applies to all of the electricity used in your home as energy meters don't differentiate between your electric car and your domestic use. Therefore you need to take your home's electricity usage into account, as well as your car, in order to properly compare EV Tariffs.
You don't want get out of bed at midnight to plug in your car. Luckily, you can schedule your charge through a smart charge point or some cars have a basic version of this feature in-built (check your car's specifications online to see if this a feature for your car).
Many of today's smart charge points have scheduling functionality built in. You can tell these charge points when your tariff's off-peak period starts and ends and you can enter the time that you want your car fully charged in the morning via your smart phone.
The charger will then calculate the best time to start and stop your charging to minimise your cost. The apps for some charge points are also connected to National Grid's carbon forecasts, so they can schedule for the cleanest times of night if you'd prefer (more clean energy is generated on the grid during times of high wind or sun).
Alternatively, many cars will have a timing function for charging to schedule charging. They tend to be very simplistic but can offer a basic level of smart charging.
Looks for charge points with the smart charging feature in the Rightcharge charge point comparison results.
A 'Standard Variable Tariff' (a measure of a typical energy tariff price) is around 17p per unit of energy, known as kilowatt-hours or 'kWh'.
The off-peak rate of an EV Tariff can be as low as around 5p per kWh overnight so the cost of any charging in this period is reduced by over two thirds.
The average driver in the UK drives around 7,400 miles and uses around 2,000 kWh to charge their car. If all of this charging is done during the off-peak hours, which is made possible by smart charging at home, this would save £234 per year compared.
The UK's electricity grid is also around 25% cleaner overnight. During the evening, more gas-fired power stations are turned on to meet higher demand and are turned off overnight. So, most of night-time electricity is generated by low carbon sources like wind and nuclear. You can switch to a 100% renewable electricity tariff, which means your electricity is purchased from renewable sources, but on a national scale the UK will avoid switching on extra gas turbines if electric car drivers charge overnight.