Electric vehicle energy tariffs
What are they and how do they work?
With over 400,000 electric vehicles on UK roads, some energy suppliers have started offering energy tariffs aimed at electric vehicle owners. And while right now there are not as many tariffs available as usual due to the energy crisis, there are still electric vehicle tariffs out there that could stack up for some.
What are electric vehicle energy tariffs?
As the name suggests, these are energy tariffs aimed at owners of electric vehicles (EVs) that use their home electricity to charge their car.
There are generally two types of EV tariffs:
- Two-rate tariffs, that offer cheaper electricity overnight. The most common, and typically the cheapest type of EV tariff, offers two different electricity rates depending on the time of day, with much lower rates at night. This means you can charge your car – or run your dishwasher, washing machine etc (there are often no stipulations on what you can use the cut-price electricity for) – very cheaply overnight.
Though prices are high right now, if you make full use of the cheap overnight rate, the best two-rate deal generally works out cheaper than price-capped standard variable tariffs – and there are no meaningfully cheaper regular deals that beat price-capped tariffs right now. See What EV tariffs are available? for our full analysis.
- Single-rate tariffs, where you pay the same rate throughout the day, but it's often discounted if you have an EV. The other type of EV tariff works the same way as regular deals, where you pay a flat rate, but it'll be a special price if you've an EV, or you'll get extras such as bill credit.
Currently, there are no single-rate EV tariffs that are cheaper than price-capped standard tariffs on average – even when factoring in extra electricity usage to cover EV charging.
You can usually only get these tariffs if you own an EV (suppliers say they reserve the right to ask for proof of ownership). For more on owning an EV, or if you're thinking of getting one, see our full Electric Vehicles guide.
Six electric vehicle energy tariff need-to-knows
Energy tariffs for EVs are a bit more complicated than your standard gas and electricity deal, so before we go through the tariffs, here are some tips to help you navigate the market...
1. Charging an EV will typically add £100s to your energy bill – but you'll likely save far more as you won't be buying petrol or diesel
It's difficult to say exactly how much more electricity you'd use if you start charging your EV at home – it all depends on the size of your car's battery, how often you use it, and how much you use public charge points.
However, as an example, charging a Nissan Leaf from empty to full at home would use about 38 kilowatt hours (the unit electricity is measured in). So say you need a full charge each week – that'll get you about 160 miles – it would add 1,976kWh per year to your bill. Using this example, depending on your tariff it would cost an extra:
- About £3 per week or £148 on the cheapest EV tariff. Provided you ONLY charge your car when the rate is cheap.
- About £11 per week or £560 a year on a price-capped regular tariff. Based on average rates for a standard variable tariff at the max allowed under the current price cap.
Bear in mind this is only the cost of charging the electric vehicle – you still need to factor in your general electricity costs, your gas prices (if you use gas), and the daily standing charges of your tariff. See our What tariffs are available for our full analysis.
You won't be forking out for expensive petrol or diesel, which should more than offset any increase in your energy bill
Electric cars are generally much cheaper to run than petrol or diesel cars – and by far the biggest savings you can make will come from the fuel.
Using the Nissan Leaf example above – that's a mileage of just over 8,000 miles a year from about £150/year. That would cost well over £1,000 for petrol or diesel.
Don't forget there are public charge points for your EV, so you won't always need to charge at home
This guide is all about EV tariffs for people charging their car at home, yet there are 10,000s of public electric car charging points for when you need a top-up when you're out and about.
Some are free, but many require you to pay, either via a subscription to the provider's charging network, or pay as you go.
See our guide on electric vehicles for how to find your nearest public charge point.
- About £3 per week or £148 on the cheapest EV tariff. Provided you ONLY charge your car when the rate is cheap.
2. You'll need to get them directly from the supplier, as you usually CAN'T compare and switch to these tariffs on comparison sites
Unfortunately, it's not easy to compare EV energy tariffs. Many of them are complex, offering electricity rates that vary throughout the day, or are in what's known as a 'beta' phase, meaning the supplier is testing out the tariff, so it's not ready for the open market.
All this means you won't find all EV tariffs on price comparison websites – including our Cheap Energy Club. This means you have to go direct to get a quote or to compare rates and switch, making it much harder to know which tariff is best when it comes to charging your car.
For info on how to compare, see how to find your cheapest EV tariff.
3. You'll need to be an existing customer, or switch to another of its tariffs first to get some EV tariffs
Some EV tariffs are only available to existing customers of the supplier. That means if you're not already a customer, to get the tariff you'll need to switch to one of the supplier's regular energy tariffs, then switch to the EV tariff.
This is usually the case for two-rate EV tariffs – where there are cheaper rates overnight, and higher rates during the day.
Suppliers do this as they'll need to install a smart meter if you don't have one or, if you do have one already, make sure they can fully connect to it (more on that below).
Just make sure your interim tariff is a good one, as it could take months before you can move on to the EV tariff. Right now most are best on price-capped standard tariffs due to the current crisis (and most firms are saving their cheaper deals for existing customers). If you do want to check what open-market deals are out there, you can use our Cheap Energy Club to compare – but if do switch to a deal that has exit fees, check with the provider that you'll be able to move to the EV tariff penalty-free.
To get an EV energy tariff, you'll need a smart meter. Generally, this is needed so the supplier can track your usage throughout the day, allowing it to offer cheaper rates during off-peak hours.
The supplier also has to be able to pick up the meter's signal – so if you have an older smart meter that goes 'dumb' when switching, you may need to get a new one installed. See our Smart meters guide for more info.
If you don't have a smart meter, to get on an EV tariff you'll usually have to switch to another of the supplier's tariffs first, while you wait for an appointment to have them installed. And even if you do have one already, you'll still need to sign up to another of its tariffs first, so the firm can check if it can connect to your smart meter (and arrange a replacement meter if it can't).
Some of the cheapest EV energy tariffs we found are electricity-only. This means that if your home also has gas, you'll need to have a separate tariff for it.
With the energy market in crisis, it's unlikely to be worth looking for a new gas tariff. You can still switch your electricity to the EV tariff, while keeping your current supplier for gas. The only drawback is having to deal with two suppliers instead of one.
However, some firms do offer dual-fuel EV tariffs, letting you switch both your gas and electricity. But remember, the main benefit of EV tariffs is the cheap rates overnight, which you won't get with your gas supply.
So even if it does offer a dual-fuel tariff, it may still be worth checking you're not overpaying on your gas, and then opting to have two different suppliers.
Charging your EV at home can take hours, especially without the proper equipment. According to the RAC, charging a typical 40kWh EV battery from empty could take as long as 17 hours using a standard household three-pin socket.
What's more, if you've gone for a two-rate tariff, cheaper overnight rates for four or five hours won't really help – if takes as long as 17 hours to actually charge your car.
So if you can afford it and have the space, it's a good idea to get a dedicated wall-mounted charging point for your vehicle – these gadgets can charge your car around three times faster than a standard plug.
For more info, see our full electric vehicle guide.
What EV tariffs are available?
Tariffs change regularly and new ones are launched all the time, but below are the top deals aimed at electric vehicle owners we found as of 20 April 2022. Currently, there are fewer tariff available than usual due to the energy crisis, and all the top deals are two-rate tariffs, as all the single-rate deals we could find were very expensive.
To help you compare, we've worked out the average electricity rates on offer, and the average annual price. As there are no official figures on average consumption for someone with an electric vehicle, we've taken typical usage for a dual-fuel household, and added some extra electricity use for the electric vehicle – enough to charge a Nissan Leaf from empty to full once a week (that'd get you about 160 miles). We've assumed you'll want gas as well, so have given prices for both.
While it might not be an entirely accurate figure, it gives us a base for comparison – but be aware these tariffs are complicated to compare, so this as a list of who to try, rather than which one is best.
|Octopus - Octopus Go
1yr fix, elec-only, existing custs only
Cheapest two-rate EV tariff with four off-peak hours. A two-rate tariff, with four cheap hours from 12.30am to 4.30am. It's elec-only, so you'll need a separate gas deal – we've paired it with Octopus' standard variable gas tariff (as there no cheaper deals right now) to give a cost for a dual-fuel home. See full tariff details.
|Octopus - Intelligent Octopus
1yr fix, elec-only, existing custs only
|Two-rate tariff that's the same price as Octopus Go with slightly more off-peak hours – but not everyone can get it. A two-rate tariff, with six cheap hours from 11.30pm and 5.30am. However, you can only get it if you have a Tesla car or a Wallbox Pulsar Plus charger. It's elec-only, so you'll need a separate gas deal - we've paired it with Octopus' standard variable gas tariff (as there no cheaper deals right now) to give a cost for a dual-fuel home. See full tariff details.||£2,311 (2)|
Ovo - Drive + Anytime
1yr fix, dual-fuel only, existing custs only
|Two-rate tariff – but you can only charge your car on the cheaper rate & not everyone can get it. This Ovo tariff offers a cheap rate for charging your car at anytime. You'll initially be charged for the higher peak rates for all electricity you use, but Ovo says it will refund you the difference between the cheap and peak rates for anything you use for charging your EV each month. However, it's only available to those with certain EV chargers. See full tariff details.||£2,720|
|EDF - GoElectric 35
2yr fix, dual-fuel or elec-only, existing custs only
|Two-rate tariff and fixed for two years. This EDF tariff offers five cheap hours from 12am to 5am. It offers the cheapest off-peak rates of any EV tariff, but the peak rates and standard charges are more pricey than the tariffs above. Your rates are locked in for longer that others too, so gives protection against price rises for longer. See full tariff details.||£2,901|
|Correct as of 25 April 2022 (we'll aim to update this each month). Based on typical dual-fuel use with a little extra added for the EV. All tariffs come with 100% 'renewable' elec. (1) Where a tariff has off-peak and peak rates, we've assumed the EV will only be charged in off-peak hours. (2) This is an electricity-only tariff, so we've assumed the average price for gas is charged at Octopus' standard variable tariff rates.|
How to find your cheapest tariff – you'll usually have to do a manual comparison
Most electric vehicle tariffs aren't cheap at the moment, and there are very few still available (we've analysis of one potentially decent one below for Octopus customers), with many providers pulling or hiking their EV tariffs due to the energy crisis.
That means for most right now, it's likely not worth switching, so there may not be much point in comparing, but we've info on how to do it for when the deals return, as EV tariffs aren't on comparison sites.
Two-rate tariffs are generally the cheapest EV tariffs, but they're trickier to compare
Here's a rough way of working it out:
- Find out how much your EV needs. Work out how much electricity you'll need to charge your car for the mileage you'll likely do (check car's instruction manual if don't already have an EV)
- Work out how much it'd be on the EV tariff.
- Get overnight rates of the EV tariff and multiply that by the amount you need to charge car (we're assuming here you only charge off-peak, if not, adjust your maths).
- Get peak day rates for the EV tariff to work out a cost for your normal electricity use (you'll see that on an old bill – deduct your car use if you've got one already)
- Add costs for normal electricity use and EV charging together (if you have gas too, you'll need to add that as well in a similar way - you can do a gas-only comparison if the EV tariff doesn't offer gas).
- Work out how much it'll be on a regular tariff. Go into Cheap Energy Club and put in your total use in (including EV use) and you'll see an annual cost based on your current tariff (and cheapest other regular tariffs).
- Then compare the total cost for an EV tariff versus a regular tariff. Do the maths to work out what is cheapest (remember to factor in gas if needed).
Single-rate tariffs are generally pricier, but are easier to compare
Find out how much your EV needs as above and add that to your usual use (if you don't already have an EV), then get an annual quote of the price directly from the EV tariff supplier. Simply make a note of that quote, then do a normal full-market comparison to see how it compares to regular deals.
How to get an EV tariff – you'll usually need to be an existing customer
To sign up to an EV tariff, you'll need to go direct to the supplier, you won't be able switch via any comparison sites. What's more, most electric vehicle deals are only available to existing customers. If you're already with the firm you want an EV tariff from, then it's easy, but if not there's a few more steps involved:
If you're an existing customer, it's easy
If you're already with the supplier that's offering your EV tariff of choice, it's super-easy, just ask it to move you over to the EV tariff.
If you don't have a smart meter the supplier can read, you'll need to get one installed. This could take a few weeks, but once that's sorted you can be moved on to the EV tariff immediately.
If you're a new customer, you'll need to switch to a regular tariff first
If you're not currently with the supplier you want an EV tariff from, there's a few things you'll need to before you can be moved on to it:
- Step 1: Switch to a regular tariff with the firm that's offering your EV tariff. Make sure you pick its cheapest deal, as you're likely to be on this for a few weeks – do a Cheap Energy Club comparison to find it.
Once you've switched to it, then you'll need to ask it to switch you to the EV tariff – you can either contact it by phone or email, or some will let you request it through your online account.
- Step 2: Get a smart meter installed if you don't already have them. Most EV tariffs rely on smart meters to work, so the supplier can track your use throughout the day and offer cheaper night-time rates.
So you'll need to wait until your supplier can arrange installation before you can move across to the EV tariff. If you already have smart meters, you may still need to wait a few weeks while your supplier connects to your meters.
Once your smart meters are installed and your supplier is receiving readings from them, you should be moved across to the EV tariff.
Some EV tariffs are for electricity-only, so don't forget to sort your gas tariff
If your EV tariff is an electricity-only tariff, don't forget to sort out your gas tariff. You can usually find cheap gas-only deals – do a Cheap Energy Club gas-only comparison to find your winner.
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