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Is charging an electric car cheaper than gas?

Save Money on Transportation

Transportation typically ranks as the second largest expense in a household budget. An electric vehicle (EV) can offset this cost substantially by lowering fuel and maintenance bills. According to the eGallon Calculator, EV charging costs roughly half the price of powering a standard gasoline vehicle for driving the same distance. Even if you charge your EV at a public station, it’s still cheaper than filling with gasoline. When you charge at home, your savings increase greatly. There are various online tools that compare fueling costs between EVs and standard gasoline vehicles. To find out how much you can save by going electric, check out our Online Resources.

Time-of-Use (TOU) Rates – EV drivers may be eligible for special EV utility rates. With TOU rates, electricity costs vary based on the time of day when energy is used. During periods when electricity demand is low, participating customers are charged “off-peak” rates, which are often much lower than rates charged during other periods. EVs can be programmed to charge when you want—even when you plug your EV in during the day, you can set your vehicle to begin charging at night or when the rates are lower. This enables you to take advantage of lower rates and maximize your savings.

electric vehicle time-of-use rate

See below for examples of rate discounts from California utilities:

  • California Municipal Utility Association (CMUA) — CMUA utility members provide customers access to Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) charging stations in your community, and access to various PEV charging rates in your home or business.
  • Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) — special EV rate discount of 2.5 ¢ per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for off-peak energy consumption.
  • Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) – PG&E’s EV rate plan encourages off-peak charging, when the cost of electricity is 16¢ per kWh, the equivalent of $1.40 per gallon.
  • Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) – EV owners can get a 1.5¢ per kWh credit for charging between midnight and 6 a.m.
  • San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) – Pay less than 9¢ per kWh when you enroll in the EV TOU 5 pricing plan.
  • Southern California Edison (SCE) – SCE’s TOU-D Prime rate may help you save if you charge your EV at home between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Solar For Your Home – With a solar photovoltaic (PV) system, you can offset the additional electricity required for EV charging while also generating clean energy to power your home. It’s a good practice to first acquire your EV and charge it at home for a month or more to determine its impact on your electricity consumption. Then you can right-size your solar installation to cover EV charging and household needs. Many solar companies can install a Level 2 charging station at the same time they install your PV system.

Free Fuel with Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) – Currently, hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle automakers and hydrogen station developers are providing free fuel to support the growing market. FCEV drivers receive a complimentary fueling card that provides three years or up to $15,000 worth of fuel, whichever occurs first.

Vehicle Purchase/Lease Incentives – You can get up to $7,500 in federal tax credits for an EV. California also offers $1,000-$7,000 from the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP), depending on the vehicle make and model (see Eligible Vehicles).

CVRP rebates vary based on income levels with lower-income households eligible for increased amounts. Higher-income consumers are not eligible for CVRP rebates if their gross annual income is above the cap. The income cap applies to all eligible vehicle types except fuel-cell electric vehicles.

For details on your rebate eligibility, visit Income Eligibility. To estimate your rebate amounts, refer to our Savings Calculator.

The Real Cost of Charging an Electric Car — Is It Cheaper Than Gas?

Car charging

For electric cars, the cost of charging largely depends on the model of the car and charging station; however, there is a trend: it’s cheaper than gas.

Jan. 31 2023, Published 10:10 a.m. ET

New, sleek electric cars are taking over the streets every day. They glide through intersections, and sidestep gas stations with space-like muteness and designs sculpted for the future.

Undoubtedly, investing in an electric vehicle is a step closer to a less polluted planet, as well as the short-term wallet benefit of not having to worry about rising gas prices. However, do you have to pay to charge your electric car?

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The cost of charging depends on the electric car — and the charger.

The short answer is: yes, you will have to pay at some point to charge your electric car (EV). This could either look like installing a charger at your house, which will cost you something (more on this later), or stopping by charging stations that include a fee.

Person charging car

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Many factors will affect the cost of charging an EV, but most average to be around $10-$30 per charge, per Investopedia.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, the average American drives just over 13,400 miles per year, which means an average of around 1,000 miles per month, and under 40 miles per day.

The “all-electric range” is the distance an EV can go on a single charge. EVs can usually run around 100 to over 400 miles after one charge, per the U.S. Department of Energy. The wide range is due to many factors, one being the different charger voltage levels available.

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Charging spot

Most EVs you buy will come with a “Level One” or 110-volt unit, which adds 2 to 5 miles per hour of charging. A “Level Two” unit has 240 volts, and can add 10-30 miles per hour. And the highest level, appearing at public charging stations around the country is the “Level Three” direct current fast chargers which can add anywhere from about 100-200 miles in under 30 minutes, all per the U.S. Department of Energy.

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However, no matter the car or station, charging will almost always be cheaper than gas. It costs an estimated $0.04 per mile for an EV, compared to $0.14 for a gas-powered car. Those with an EV can also take into account that rising gas prices will cease to be an issue. Currently, the average American spends at least $1,800 on gas per year, while Americans driving EVs spend approximately $668 on charging a year (if they only charge at home) per EnergySage.

Car charing

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To break it down into specifics, let’s take a look at some of the most popular EV models and what they cost to charge.

The Audi e-tron has the highest price, with $13.99 to fully charge, versus the Nissan Leaf, which only costs $6.93 to fully charge. The Tesla Model 3 falls right in the middle at $10.75 for a full charge, followed by the Ford Mustang Mach-E at $11.99, all per EnergySage.

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However, in some cases, you may not have to pay anything. Some offices and public spaces offer free charging stations, which could greatly decrease your expenses. You can find free EV stations online by searching on PlugShare, an online database of free stations around the world.

Car dashboard

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The cost of installing a charger at your house:

Most EVs come with a Level One charger, which costs around $1,000-$1,700 to install, per Carvana.

Another factor affecting cost is the differences in electricity prices across the country, meaning depending on how often you charge and where you live, your electricity bill could look different.

According to EnergySage, the average cost of energy in Iowa is $39.32 (cents per kWh) whereas in Idaho it is only $10.32 (cents per kWh).

When it comes down to it, the overall costs for an at-home charger will ultimately depend on the size of the circuit breaker box, and your electricity service, per Forbes.

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