How to save money on EV charging

Mini EV charging from home plug in apartment

Key Points

  • EVs are cheaper to run than any ICE car, but there are still ways to save
  • Charging at home is cheapest, reliable and convenient
  • Be wise with choosing public EV chargers

Record high inflation, growing interest rates and increasing cost-of-living pressures are making everyday life more difficult. But, if you’re a new or resident electric vehicle owner, there are several ways to save on charging costs.

Despite increasing electricity and fuel prices, the total cost of owning and running an electric car is still significantly cheaper than internal combustion petrol and diesel cars.

Yet, how you recharge your EV isn’t all equal, so here are key clever tips to save even more money on electric car charging.

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Charge at home overnight

Nissan Leaf charging in home garage at night

If you have access to a household socket in your garage, driveway or carport, then you can definitely charge your electric car.

If you are on a time-of-use tariff, charging at home overnight on the lowest off-peak electricity tariff is the most convenient, easiest and cheapest way to refill your EV – without the need to worry whether a public EV charger is available or waste time deliberately driving to one.

The cheapest rate is typically between 10pm to 7am and costs around $0.10 to $0.20 per kWh depending on your electricity provider and where you live – which is at least half the price of most public EV charging stations. For the average Australian, charging at off-peak times could save more than $1000 per year.

Additionally, consider switching to a dedicated electric car electricity plan from some providers like Powershop, Ovo Energy and AGL. They usually provide free or even cheaper tariffs between certain time periods or bill credits, but keep in mind that some demand higher electricity rates for general home usage so calculate the sums to see if it makes economic sense.

When plugged into a standard 240-volt, 10-amp AC home plug, it won’t fully top-up most electric car models in the eight hours – but it gives enough driving range for the next day for most Australians, given the average commute is 41km daily.

Most EV models allow owners to schedule the cheapest time period when to start and stop charging, so all you need to do is plug in when at home and the car will do the rest.

Use solar energy

BYD Atto 3 charging in driveway during the day

Australia has one of the highest sun exposures and solar panel uptake per capita in the world. So, it makes even more economic sense if you can further take advantage of the sun and charge your electric car using 'free energy'. Charging from solar could save you up to 90 per cent in your energy costs versus the grid based on a feed-in tariff of $0.05/kWh.

Provided you have solar panels installed at your home or workplace, you can plug in your EV during the day when there’s solar generation.

For example, charge when the car isn’t being used like while you’re working from home, you end work and get home in the sunny afternoon, or at your workplace during the day.

All solar panel systems come with a metre reader so you can see how much solar energy is received. Some are available with a mobile app to monitor the generation remotely so you know when best to plug-in your EV while the sun is out.

If you want to ensure 100 per cent of your energy is produced by solar, you should consider a smart EV charger which will calibrate your charger output with the solar production of your panels.

Choose a cheaper public charger

Hyundai Ioniq 5 charging on Gold Coast City Council Chargefox station

It’s easy to be enticed by convenient Tesla Superchargers and ultra rapid 350kW DC stations, but they are usually pricier.

Tesla’s exclusive network is one of the most expensive public charging providers in Australia at $0.68 to $0.69 per kWh (plus idling fees for overstaying after it’s finished charging).

Chargefox and Evie Networks demand $0.60 per kWh for their ultra rapid chargers, while Ampol’s AmpCharge and BP Pulse cost $0.60 and $0.55 per kWh respectively. Some charging hubs also enforce pricier on-peak rates during the day.

Like with fuel stations, be selective (if you can) with where you recharge your electric car – if you need to rely on public charging infrastructure.

Fast 50kW DC Chargefox and Evie chargers are set at a standard $0.40 per kWh rate, while some state government or council-backed Chargefox stations like the Queensland Electric Super Highway (QESH) are priced at $0.30 per kWh and the NRMA network offers free charging for everyone (for a limited time).

Utilise motoring club discounts

Tesla Model 3 charging on Chargefox NRMA ultra rapid station

All members of Australian state motoring clubs including the NRMA, RACV, RACQ, RAA, RAC, and RACT benefit from 20 per cent off DC charging sessions with their Chargefox network, the nation’s largest public charging provider.

EV owners only need to enter their membership number into the Chargefox mobile app and a discount label will be shown on eligible fast and ultra rapid charging stations.

The NRMA will soon make free charging at its DC Chargefox-run network exclusive to members only, too.

Take advantage charging inclusions

Genesis G80 at QESH Chargefox stations

Some electric car models come with charging perks to entice Australians to switch.

All new Genesis EVs come with a choice of either a five-year unlimited subscription to the Chargefox AC and DC network or 7.2kW AC home wall box charger with standard installation fees included.

Chargefox also partners with other car brands to include a free unlimited charging subscription for a certain period:

Furthermore, if your EV is financed with Pepper Money, it includes a 12-month or 2,000kWh free charging subscription to Evie Networks.

Free EV charging

Mercedes-Benz EQA AC charging in market

🛍️Shopping centres and businesses

Several businesses, universities, and shopping centres or markets offer free charging to its customers and visitors. These may include slow AC and fast DC charging points.

Of course, it's courtesy to support the business in exchange. For example, a three-hour shopping trip could provide more than 50 per cent charge on a Tesla Model 3 RWD when connected to a 11kW AC charger.

However, you should consider if deliberately driving there is worth the range consumed (if it's out of your local area or commute) and the likely time needed to queue for the free charger (as it's bound to be popular). The best way to check if there are free electric vehicle charging facilities is:

🏨Hotels and motels

Hotels, motels and Airbnb hosts are increasingly providing EV destination charging facilities for guests. These can range from a standard powerpoint outlet to a Level 2 charge point capable of 22kW AC power.

If you plan on parking your car overnight, why not charge it at the same time and take advantage of free charging (or for a small fee)? It could save you $20 to $40 for a full charge compared to using public fast chargers. The best way to check if your accommodation provides electric vehicle charging facilities is:

⚡️Jolt charging stations

Every Jolt charging station provides up to 7kWh of free charging per day, with standard rates applying thereafter. This equates to 30 to 40 km of range enough to cover the daily distance of most Australian drivers.

🔋NRMA charging stations

All NRMA fast DC chargers operated by Chargefox in New South Wales with some in Victoria and South Australia are currently free to all EV owners, without any limits. However, the state motoring club will soon make free charging exclusive to members only.

About the author

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Henry Man

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Henry Man is a motoring journalist passionate about the intersection of technology and transportation, with a focus on electric vehicles.

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