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What's the Energy Use & Cost of Charging Your Electric Car? (Tesla, Chevy, Nissan, Porsche)?

In recent years, electric vehicles have rapidly become the car of choice for many due to several factors including their low environmental impact, cost, and innovative technology. As more and more car manufacturers begin to develop electric cars, and highways become more equipped to support charging electric vehicles, it seems likely that electric cars will play a big role in the future of our transportation system is electric.

Electric vehicles tend to hold several advantages over traditional-gas-dependent cars. Aside from having a much lower carbon footprint, they also tend to be cheaper to operate. Although their upfront cost is still high in comparison to a lot of gas cars, one of the main reasons that individuals are interested in purchasing electric vehicles is because they can help their drivers save money in the long run. That's because, when done right, it can be cheaper to charge your car via electricity than it is to power your car via gas.

How much cheaper? How much does it cost to charge an electric car every day? Calculating the cost of your electric vehicle can be difficult for a number of reasons. On a given day, electricity rates are much more likely to vary than gas prices which makes it hard to calculate how much your car's miles per kilowatt-hours. That's why we've created a calculator and guide to help you deepen your understanding of how much it costs to own and use an electric vehicle. Check it out below!

Electric car energy cost calculator


Terminology explained

Energy language can be confusing. Below, we break down what you need to know to use our calculator.

What are watts and how to calculate the wattage of my electric car charging station?

Watts measure the rate at which electricity moves through an appliance. When it comes to electric vehicles, the more wattage, the faster you can charge your car.

Typically, a charging station uses 3,600 and 7,200 watts to charge an electric vehicle. Most electric vehicles actually have limits to the rate of power and electricity the car can accept. The number of watts it takes to charge a vehicle is actually much lower than you might expect. For perspective, most window unit air conditioners use around 1,500 watts and an electric furnace can use as much as 10,000 - 14,000 watts. Charging stations live in the middle of the pack of your appliances when it comes to average energy consumption.

Determining how many watts it takes to charge your car is an important step for calculating the cost of charging your vehicle. Your charging station will likely have the wattage information somewhere written down. You can also look it up online. Here is an equation to help you calculate wattage (and kilowattage) in case you can't find the number.

Kilowatts = (Amps x Volts) / 1000

What is the average cost of electricity?

According to US Energy Information Administration, the average cost of electricity in the U.S. is 16 ¢/kWh. However, this number can vary depending on your electricity supplier. One of the reasons it can be so difficult to calculate the cost of charging your electric vehicle is because prices will vary throughout the day due to the ebbs and flows of energy demand. This cost of electricity also greatly varies depending on your state. Here is a list of the average electricity cost in different states.

Is it really cheaper to own an electric vehicle?

The answer really depends on what kind of car you buy. In general, the upfront cost of purchasing or leasing a new electric car will often make electric cars a bit more expensive because there are more affordable gas-powered cars on the market than electric vehicles. This study breaks down the overall cost of buying and operating gas cars vs. electric cars.

But while the upfront cost of electric vehicles will likely be higher, it is much cheaper to power your car via electricity. On average, an electric vehicle uses around 30kwhs to travel 100 miles. If the cost of electricity is around 16 ¢/kWh, then the cost of powering your car to travel 100 miles would be under $5 dollars. In comparison, if you have a car that gets 25 miles per gallon and the cost of gas is $3.50 per gallon, then the cost of powering your car to drive 100 miles would be roughly $14 dollars, more than triple the cost.

Meet community solar, the easy way to save without rooftop panels.

Lower your electricity bills and help the environment. Let Perch match you to a local solar farm.

How to save on the cost of charging your electric vehicle?

Owning an electric vehicle will likely make your electricity bill a tad more expensive. But remember that with an electric car, you no longer have to purchase gas. So while your electricity bill may be higher, you will likely still be saving money overall.

Still, there are some tips to cut those electricity costs. Here are some of our top suggestions.

  • 1.

    Charge your car during periods of low energy demand if you can

    Electricity prices fluctuate depending on demand. The higher the demand, the more expensive the electricity will be. One tip for saving on the cost of charging your electric vehicle is to charge your car during periods of low demand. Electricity demand is generally lower during the day or much later at night once people are asleep. Get strategic about when you charge your car and don’t charge it every night if you don’t need to.
  • 2.

    Look into any incentives that your state or car manufacturer may offer

    Some car manufacturers or states offer incentives such as free public charging as a benefit of owning an electric vehicle. These incentives can be a great way to cut the costs of charging your electric vehicle.
  • 3.

    Look into clean energy options

    Clean energy options, including solar and community solar, can help you save on your overall electricity costs. You can look into whether or not you’re home is eligible for solar panels, and if it is, then you can save lots of money over time powering your home with solar. If you can’t afford the upfront cost of solar panels or your roof is not suitable for solar, then you can also look into whether or not there are any clean energy programs such as community solar in your area. Community solar helps you save on your electricity costs in return for your supporting a local solar farm.
  • 4.

    Choose Perch Energy

    At Perch, we're on a mission to make cleaner energy more accessible, more affordable, and more equitable for all. Whether you rent an apartment, own a home, or run a business, Perch offers multiple ways to save money on your electricity bills, or even help the planet, too.
    • For guaranteed savings on your annual electricity cost, join a community solar project in your area. Perch will help match you to a local solar farm—you'll support the operations of that farm so that it can generate and contribute as much clean, solar energy to the overall grid. You don't directly receive electricity from the solar power you're supporting, but thanks to government incentives, you'll get credits toward your own utility bill. Essentially, you're being rewarded with discounts on your own electricity because you're enabling solar generation and development in your state.
    • With Perch, you can take your fossil-fuel-fighting, money-saving ways even further when you also switch your home or business' electricity plan to cleaner energy. If you're on your utility's default basic service rate, it's a "mixed" energy plan (generated partly by fossil fuels, partly by renewable resources). But Perch can switch you to a low-cost cleaner energy plan—outside of what your utility is offering—that's backed 100% by clean, renewable resources like solar and wind. We'll find you a price that's lower than the market rate for similar options in your area. You don't have to do anything differently, but you'll feel great knowing that your personal electricity usage is now contributing to a healthier planet, and you've reduced your everyday carbon footprint.
Get simple solar savings without the rooftop panels

Lower your electricity bills and help the environment. Let Perch match you to a local solar farm.