How Much Does it Cost to Charge an Electric Car?

The Cost to Charge an Electric Car

The cost to charge an EV depends on various factors, including location, time and rates. A person living in Nebraska can expect to pay a lot less to charge their electric car compared to a person in Hawaii where electricity rates are more expensive. EVs generally cost less to fuel than a comparable gasoline-powered car, because electricity rates tend to be more stable than gasoline prices.

Cost Breakdown for EV Charging

For example, the average residential electricity rate in the U.S. is 12.85 cents per kWh (as of February 2020). This hasn’t changed much from five years ago when it was 12.29 cents per kWh. While local rates may have fluctuated more or less, the national average price has been stable. The average person driving an EV for 15,000 miles per year can expect to pay about $600 per year (or $50 per month) to charge.

Let’s assume that you’re paying 15.5 cents per kWh and are considering a 2020 Nissan Leaf with a battery range of 149 miles. To charge up to a 100-mile range will cost 30 kWh. If we take 30 and multiply that by 15.5 cents, we get a total cost of $4.65 per 100 miles of range.

If we compare to a gasoline-powered car, assuming a cost of $3.25 per gallon with a vehicle that gets 25 miles per gallon, that same 100-mile range would cost $13 per 100 miles. As you can see, the savings of an electric car really begin to add up over time.

When you consider other EV savings in the equation — including federal tax credits, state rebates and reduced maintenance costs — it’s clear that an EV can lead to substantial savings overall.

Cost of Home Charging

Like other commodities, electricity is priced at the intersection of a supply and demand curve. When demand is decreased, the cost of using electricity is reduced. When demand increases, so does the cost of using electricity. The best time to charge an electric car is typically at night, when most people are sleeping – which is convenient because you’re probably sleeping too!

Because they provide the power, electric utilities are incentivized to help their existing customers learn more about the benefits of EVs. As such, some utilities will provide special EV rates. These rates are only for customers with EVs and can reduce the cost of charging as well as the total cost of home electricity.

Some utilities offer a Time of Use (TOU) plan, allowing customers to take advantage of reduced rates at certain times – often at night. TOU rates are not specific to EV owners and, therefore, anyone can take advantage of the reduced rates. Many Level 2 chargers also have automatic systems that can be set up to charge EVs during the reduced-rate times. This is done so the homeowner can take advantage of reduced costs without having to remember exactly when to plug in.

Cost of Public Charging

With more electric cars on the road each day, public charging stations have become increasingly common. Many stations are part of a larger charging network that works with aggregators as well as manufacturers.

There are three main pricing models for public charging:

  • Pay-as-you-go
  • Monthly subscription
  • Free-to-use

The pay-as-you-go option is the most common among drivers. Pricing is based on either dollar per kWh or simply by the hour. In a dollar per kWh scenario, rates can vary depending on several factors such as location, peak times or how the commercial owner of the property has set their rates. For instance, a mall may charge 38 cents per kWh. Around the corner, a similar charger may be priced at 18 cents a kWh. Another may simply be free. The hourly model is also used in some locations. For instance, instead of charging 49 cents per kWh, charging companies can have a standard $4.99 per hour charge.

To see if GreenCars has a charging station near you, visit our Charging Station Map