One of the most common questions I have gotten in 5 years as an EV owner is “how much did your electricity bill go up?” My short answer: it didn’t. When my husband and I moved into our single home with central air and an in-ground pool, we were shocked by the electricity bill. We came from a typical Philly row home (a block of brick houses all connected) where utility costs were low. In the first 3 years living there, we made several notable purchases: LED light bulbs, high efficiency washer/dryer, variable speed pool pump, a new 10 cubic ft. refrigerator to replace the 30 year old beast behind our bar, and a Tesla Model S 85. Comparing our first 6 months in this house (2012) with those same 6 months the first full year we had an electric vehicle (2015), we actually used less electricity – by over 20%!
We meet 100% of our routine charging needs at home and only charge elsewhere on trips far enough to necessitate it. In other words, in the second half of a year our cars required roughly the same amount of electricity as we saved from a few upgrades. We did not change our habits much, nor get rid of any major systems or appliances. We simply upgraded each to a more efficient version. If you live somewhere that gets cold in the winter, the picture changes a bit. All batteries, including those that power electric vehicles, lose some efficiency in cold temps.
I also recognize that my house is an extreme example and that today, in 2019, you have likely already implemented efficiency matters. So let’s get to the matter of isolating the usage of a car by itself. For this exercise we will use the Tesla Model S as an example.
According to Tesla’s charging estimator, a Model S requires roughly 13.4 kWh to charge enough at home for 40 miles of driving. If you drive that amount every single day for a month, that translates to $52.00 per month at the average rate of $0.13 per kWh. Smaller, more efficient EVs exist and they will change this picture slightly in favor of lower costs. $52.00 is not an absolute cost one must consider, however, if replacing a gasoline powered car with an EV.
According to AAA, today’s average gasoline price in the United States is $2.72. If you drive a car that gets 25 miles per gallon, your cost to drive 40 miles per day every day for a month would be $130.56 per month at this price; nearly $80.00 per month more than the Model S. Even a super-efficient 40 mpg car would cost you $81.60 per month to drive. Factor in oil changes, emissions testing and generalized maintenance required of an internal combustion engine car over a 5 year period and an EV starts to look quite compelling.
I won’t argue that a Tesla, or any other brand new EV, is a good financial decision. Brand new cars are depreciating assets, with rapid depreciation up front. What I will tell you is that if you want a brand new car and are considering an EV this time around, there is definitely money to be saved in fueling up.
If you’ve added solar panels to your home after getting an EV (I have) or have used a Time of Use electricity plan to save money charging off-peak, let us know in the comments!