• Sign in
  • |
  • Sign up

Car News

Off-Peak Charging for Electric Cars Saves Drivers Money

RELATED READING
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs Infiniti cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Mazda cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon

author photo by Nick Palermo
  • Special, off-peak electricity rates
  • Plans vary by location
  • Big-dollar savings compared to gasoline

Electric vehicles (EVs) are typically pricier than similar, conventionally powered cars. The reasons are simple. The batteries required by electric cars are expensive, and the technology is not as mature or widespread as the engineering that drives vehicles powered by gasoline or diesel fuel. But electric cars are still appealing to many drivers, even from an economic perspective. The reason is that they save drivers money on fuel. Topping off batteries with a full electrical charge is typically far cheaper than adding an equivalent amount of energy at the gas pump. Plus EV drivers that charge at home can save even more money by taking advantage of special "off-peak" power rates available from most electrical utilities.

In AutoTrader.com's hometown of Atlanta, the local electrical utility company provides rates as low as $0.06 per kilowatt-hour for charging during "super off-peak" hours. That's half the estimated cost of charging provided on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website fueleconomy.gov. It lists the cost of a kilowatt-hour of electricity at $0.12. For comparison, regular unleaded comes at a cost of $3.63 per gallon.

Electricity suppliers only make as much energy as users demand at a given moment. Because utilities cannot store the energy they generate, they must constantly meet demand, and any excess power is wasted. When demand for energy drops, utilities have excess capacity. Utilities are happy to sell electricity at a discount while demand is low -- overnight, for instance.

EV owners may have to apply for the special, off-peak rates and program their vehicles or chargers to use electricity only when costs are low. Using a chart provided by Georgia Power, an EV driver in Atlanta could design a charging plan that minimizes costs. The ideal time to charge using this plan is during super off-peak hours, from 12 a.m. until 6 a.m. During this period, EV drivers get rates of just $0.06 per kilowatt-hour.

Regular off-peak times vary by season. From June through September, they last from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. and from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. on weekdays, and from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Winter off-peak hours last from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. daily. During these hours, EV drivers pay $0.10 per kilowatt-hour.

Even that's quite a discount compared to $0.25 per kilowatt-hour during times of peak demand. And for drivers comparing electricity to gas using fueleconomy.gov, off-peak charging can save even more money than the website suggests. EPA reports $0.87 in fuel costs to drive the all-electric 2013 Nissan Leaf 25 miles (based on an electricity cost of $0.12 per kilowatt-hour). By comparison, another small Nissan, the gas-powered 2013 Versa, costs about $2.59 in gas to cover the same distance.

Even without an off-peak rate plan, EV drivers will save money compared to fueling a gasoline or diesel-powered vehicle. But using an off-peak rate plan can boost savings even more.

What it means to you: Electric cars are already inexpensive to operate compared to conventional vehicles. Off-peak charging plans can drop costs even lower.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Close 
Off-Peak Charging for Electric Cars Saves Drivers Money