Road To Nowhere

What is smart charging…?

27 January 2021

Save money and carbon with the right EV charger and Energy Tariff.

At a glance, what you need to know about smart charging

  • Quite simply, scheduling your EV charging to begin at the cheapest or cleanest times of night for energy production is called smart charging.

  • You can easily change to a home energy tariff designed for EV drivers with cheaper off-peak charging known as EV tariffs.

  • These off-peak times usually coincide with when the UK’s electricity grid is at its cleanest.

  • Generally, these off peak times are between midnight and 7am so you will need to program your charge point or EV to schedule its charging between these times.

  • Smart charging reduces emissions from charging by an average of 25% and saves the average EV driver over £230 per annum compared to charging using a standard energy tariff.

What exactly is smart charging?

Smart charging your EV means scheduling your charge to coincide the off-peak periods of your home electricity tariff. To do so, you’ll need to switch to an EV friendly tariff with cheaper off-peak times and install a smart charge point that figures out when to stop and start your charging based on your particular needs.

A little more about EV friendly tariffs

Recharging your EV at home is as much as 90% cheaper than refuelling with either petrol or diesel, but the downside is you will be using a lot of power. So, it makes sense to switch tariffs to save yourself as much as possible. Using the right energy tariff can save the average driver over £230 per year compared to the option of not switching. If you can charge at home at night EV tariffs are often the cheapest, not to mention the cleanest way to do it. Several energy suppliers have now developed EV tariffs, these usually have a day and night rate for electricity. The night rate is often applied between midnight and 7am, giving you a chance for a good few hours of ‘off peak’ charging.

Timing your EV charging

You wouldn’t be wanting to get out of bed at midnight to plug in your EV ? Thank goodness then that you can schedule your charge through a smart chargepoint or your EV (some cars have a basic version of this in built). Some of today's smart chargepoints have a schedule function built in. You can program these charge points when your tariffs off-peak time starts and ends via your smartphone App ensuring your EV is fully charged when you need it the next morning. The EV charger will then calculate the best time to start and stop your charging to lower your costs. The apps for some EV charge points are connected to National Grids carbon forecast, so they can schedule charging for the cleanest times during the night. So to savings.

Standard variable tariffs are usually around 17p per unit of energy (kWl). Compare this to the off-peak rate of an EV tariff which can be as low as 5p per kWh, a saving of over two thirds! The average driver in the UK drives around 7,400 miles and uses around 2,000 kWh per year to charge their EV. If this charging were to be done in off peak hours (smart charging at home) this would mean a saving of £234 per year.

A cleaner incentive

The UK’s electricity grid is around 25% cleaner at night. During the evening more gas fired stations are turned on to meet higher demand but turned off overnight, so most of the night-time energy is generated by much lower carbon sources like wind and nuclear. You could change to a 100% renewable electricity tariff meaning a clearer conscience as your electricity is purchased from renewable sources. This Means on a national scale the UK will avoid switching on extra gas turbines if EV drivers charge their cars overnight.

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