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How Much Does It Cost to Charge an Electric Car?

Published on February 24th, 2021

In a previous blog, we discussed a handful of reasons why you should switch to an electric vehicle. The article notes that electric vehicles (EVs) dramatically reduce your carbon footprint. It also mentions that switching to electric will reduce your gas bill. If you’re driving a fully electric vehicle, your gas costs actually drop to $0.

That doesn’t mean your fueling costs disappear completely with an EV. Yes, charging an electric vehicle is still free at many public charging stations. However, most of these are still level 2 charging stations, requiring 4 – 6 hours to reach a full charge. Even the fast charging stations that are becoming more common take 40 minutes to an hour to charge an EV.

Long vehicle charging times lead many EV owners to seek out electricians specializing in electric car charger installation. Because when you can charge at home, charging times become less important. But charging at home means you have to foot the bill for the electricity costs. So how much does it cost to charge an electric car?

Well, it depends. In many places, the electric rate changes throughout the day and year. When the demand for electricity is high in the afternoon and early evening or during the summer, prices rise. Overnight and during the winter, when demand is low, prices fall.

The cost of electricity also changes based on location. Across the U.S. as a whole, the average cost of electricity for residential customers in 2020 was 13.35 cents/kWh. But in California, the state with the highest rates (and the most EVs), residential customers paid 22.26 cents/kWh on average. On the other end of the spectrum, Idaho residents paid just 9.67 cents/kWh.

How to Calculate the Cost of Charging an Electric Car

To calculate the cost of charging an electric vehicle, multiply the cost of electricity by the total kilowatt-hours it takes to charge the vehicle.

A Tesla Model 3 comes with one of three different batteries with capacities of 54, 62, and 75 kWh. To fully charge these batteries at the average electricity rate in the U.S. for 2020, it would cost $7.21, $8.28, and $10.01, respectively.

But in California, it would have cost $12.02, $13.80, and $16.70 to charge each of these batteries. In Idaho, it would have only cost $5.22, $6.00, and $7.25.

To get a full sense of how these figures relate to gas powered vehicles, we need to look at cost per mile. The different models of the Tesla Model 3 can travel 220, 263, and 353 miles on a single charge.

This translates to roughly $0.03/mile using the average electric rate in the U.S. in 2020. In California, that jumps to roughly $0.05/mile. In Idaho it falls to just just over $0.02/mile.

Now let’s compare that to the cost per mile of gas powered cars. In 2020, new cars averaged 25.7 MPG. The average cost of gas throughout the year was $2.26 per gallon. That works out to an average cost per mile of about $0.09.

Any way you slice it, electric cars are dramatically less expensive to drive than their gas powered counterparts. When paying for your own electricity, the average cost per mile is roughly ⅓ that of gas. And using a free charging station from time to time lowers the price even more.

If you’ve been on the fence about electric cars, you can now see just how much money they can save you. And we haven’t even touched on the lower maintenance costs.

At Current Electric, we specialize in electric car charging installations from Evanston to Highland Park and throughout the Chicago area. Give us a call today for a free estimate and learn how affordable it is to go green.

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