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  • Nov 15, 2022

  • 10 min read

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What are the costs of charging an electric car?

We all know that EVs are much better for the planet than petrol or diesel- vehicles, but did you know they’re cheaper to run, too? Recharging your electric car is generally cheaper than refilling a  petrol or diesel car per mile. But the savings you make will depend on various factors like the model of your car, whether you charge at home, work or at public charge points, and what electricity tariff you’re on if you charge your EV at home.

We asked some of our Octopus Electric Vehicles customers how they charge their cars and found some pretty amazing stats! Let’s take a look in more detail at the different costs of charging your electric car.


How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

The costs of charging your electric car will vary depending on where and when you charge. Generally, the slower the charge, the cheaper and more affordable it will be, so slow charging is best for your day-to-day needs.

  • Charging at home overnight is the cheapest way to charge your electric car. Specific electric car tariffs will offer you the best price at home. Intelligent Octopus will give you super low rates on overnight charging, so you’ll pay as little as 3p per mile.
  • At the other end of the scale, topping up your car with a rapid charger is the most expensive way to add miles to your tank. On average, using a rapid charger costs 18p per mile.

Is electric car charging cheaper than buying fuel?

Yes, electric car charging is much cheaper than refilling your petrol or diesel powered car. The savings you make will depend on which charging method you choose, but even the most expensive rapid charging is likely to be more affordable than most petrol or diesel cars.


Refilling a petrol or diesel car costs on average between 19 - 21p per mile, while recharging your electric car can cost as little as 3p per mile for home charging, around 14p per mile on lamppost chargers and around 18p per mile for rapid public charging. That’s a significant cost saving when you switch to electric driving with home charging. Bear in mind that even if you don’t have a driveway or home charger, it’s really unlikely that you’ll do 100% of your charging on a rapid charger. There are plenty of other cheaper ways to charge your electric car.

Over a quarter of our electric car customers told us they save more than £150 a month on fuel costs compared to their last petrol or diesel car. We think that’s pretty amazing. If you’re thinking about switching to an electric car, you can start planning what you’ll do with that extra £1,800+ in your pocket at the end of the year!

Where can I charge my electric car?

You have three main options for electric car charging; at home, at work, or at a public charging station. Depending on which EV charging point you use, there will be different costs and charging speeds.

Charging at home

As the cheapest and most convenient option, most drivers like to charge their electric cars at home if they can. Simply plug in your EV before you go to bed, take advantage of the low-cost energy rates overnight (if you have an EV-specific energy tariff - more on those later), and wake up to a fully charged car. There’s no need to charge your EV every night - on average a UK driver drives 20 miles, with the average electric car range being 194 miles, so only plug it in when you need to.

The cost of charging your EV at home will be added to your home electricity bill so it’s important to make sure you’re on the best home energy tariff to keep costs as low as possible. Consider a specific renewable EV tariff which offers super cheap rates overnight when you’re likely to charge your car. Intelligent Octopus is our EV energy tariff which provides  a 6 hour window of low cost rates and smart charging throughout the day.

You’ll also need to think about the cost of installing a home charger. This can cost around £1,000, but with our electric vehicle salary sacrifice scheme and ultimate EV package you’ll get a home charger installed for free, plus 4,000 miles of free charging.  If you can't have a home charger installed, don’t worry, we still have you covered. You'll get 4,000 miles of free public charging credit with Electric Universe instead.

Because we offer a free home charger and installation, nearly 90% of our customers are able to charge their EV at home. More than 80% of those customers take advantage of the super low energy rates they get overnight on Intelligent Octopus and make even bigger savings on their fuel costs.

Charging at work

Some workplaces have their own charge points and might offer you free or paid tariff charging options while you’re at work. Free workplace EV charging is typically offered for a period of time before you need to pay. This is to encourage sharing of charge points between staff, if you’re not sure what’s on offer just check with your workplace. You might be lucky and have free charging available all day!

Charging at public charging stations

There are over 57,000 public charging connectors in the UK that will vary in cost and speed.  The cost to use public chargers will depend on the network you’re using.

Some will offer free charging for electric cars, like many supermarkets, public car parks, hotels and shopping destinations. When was the last time you returned from your shopping to a full tank of fuel for free? Free charging is just one of the many perks of owning an electric vehicle.

Some public chargers require a network subscription, while others you pay via a membership app or using a card. All chargers require a pay as you go access, but paying via a network app can have it’s advantages, like giving you cheaper rates. To make this process even simpler, join Electric Universe which gives you membership rates and access to thousands of chargers with one single card and one app. Plus if you’re an Octopus Energy customer, your public charging costs will show up on your energy bill so you have all your costs in one place.

You’ll find public charge points at supermarkets, car parks, leisure centres and motorway service stations that will vary between slow, fast and rapid charging. Generally, the faster the charging time, the more you’ll pay. It’s also important to remember that not all electric vehicles are compatible with all rapid charge points, so keep that in mind before you rely on being able to charge super fast.


How fast do electric cars charge?

Recharging your battery can take anything from 1 hour to 10 hours depending on how you opt to charge. Here’s the low down on various charging speeds.

Slow electric vehicle charging

Home charging via a 3 pin plug or publicly using on-street lamppost chargers tend to be the slowest option. Typically, these chargers offer a speed of 10 miles per hour, meaning it can take about 12-16 hours to charge from 0 - 100%. People generally use these overnight or for public long stays. Remember, you’ll want to make sure you keep your car charged between 20 - 80% at all times to preserve battery life so it’s unlikely you’ll be charging from zero to full in one go anyway.

Fast electric vehicle charging

Fast chargers are the most commonly used type of EV charger. These are the dedicated charging units that are installed in peoples homes, or can be found in car parks, supermarkets and public long stays. It’s much quicker than slow charging and you can typically see a rate of 30 miles per hour. Some chargers can even charge up to 90 miles per hour on the fastest 22kW fast chargers! This means it can take around 7 hours to charge from 0 - 100%

Rapid electric vehicle charging

Rapid charge points are the quickest charging option and will typically be found in motorway service stations. Speeds for rapid chargers can vary a lot, with the slowest offering 100 miles per 30 minutes of charge, and the fastest (which are sometimes known as ultra-rapid chargers) offering 200+ miles per 30 minutes. This means on average you’ll be fully charged in under an hour, and up to 80% charged within 20 minutes, depending on the charger and your car model.

What’s the best way to charge an electric car?

For day-to-day, home charging is usually the best option. It’s usually much cheaper and more convenient than other charging options. That’s if you’re lucky enough to have off-street parking and can get a home charger installed.

If your work offers free charging, then that’s also a good option to plug in and boost your battery charge while you’re busy working away in the office.

You wouldn’t typically use rapid charge points day-to-day, as this isn’t great for battery health and they are not found on your doorstep. But it’s a great and convenient option for a much-needed quick recharge on longer journeys.

We asked our customers how they charge their EVs day to day. More than half of our customers surveyed only do 20% of their charging outside of their home. When they do use the public charging network, they mostly use rapid chargers for a quick top up when they need to. This way they can balance out the cost of charging using cheap energy at home overnight, and use the rapid chargers when necessary.

Conclusion

With low-cost home charging options and more investment in public electric charging infrastructure, you’ll increasingly have more flexible, affordable and convenient charging options to choose from. Not only are electric cars the cleaner and greener choice, it's also the more sustainable and economic choice for the financially savvy driver.