The common assumption is that getting an electric car will jack up your electricity usage and thus electricity bill, and that is probably the norm to one extent or another, but that’s not always the case. In fact, some people end up having a lower electricity bill after getting an electric car. I wrote about this back in January 2014, but it’s time for another article on the topic.
A new(ish) Tesla Model S P85D owner, “WarrenInCA” in the Tesla Motors Club forum, recently wrote:
I took delivery of my P85D on 12/31/2014. For the first five months of 2015 I kept the same PG&E rate schedule I had prior to owning an electric car. That is, the tiered (E1) plan. Not surprising to me, my electric costs increased during this period.
Then, beginning June 1st, I switched to the electric vehicle plan (EVA). Now looking at my data for June and July I see that my electric costs have gone down. But something very interesting also happened. When I compare June 2014 ($197) to June 2015 ($153), and July 2014 ($211) to July 2015 ($205), my electric costs have dropped so much that I am now paying less per month than I did last year — before I owned the Model S.
In other words, charging my car at home is better than free!!
We had a similar discovery when we went to EVA with our first P85 a few years ago. We moved as much of the discretionary electricity usage to the overnight period (i.e., pool filtering, dish and clothes washers, etc.) and the net effect was that while we used a ton more electricity, the EVA rate was so much lower that the total bill was no more than pre-P85 and in most cases, well below that amount. Lower electricity bill and no more $400/mo gasoline expense is a pretty compelling financial case.
Let that sink in for a moment.
If you are considering an electric car and are running the math to see how it would compare in cost to a non-electric option, you surely have something in your spreadsheet for the cost of electricity/charging, but I’m betting it’s not a negative figure. In some cases, however, it could actually be negative!
And lest you think the utility is losing out or being selfless in such cases, note that they are benefiting from more balanced electricity demand, reduced need for expensive peaker plants, better utilization of existing nighttime electricity production and capacity, etc. It is genuinely one of those win-win scenarios.
But this is not the end of the story. There are other ways that driving electric can reduce your electricity bill… though somewhat less directly.
As noted in the article linked to at the top, switching to an electric vehicle gets some people to think about their electricity use more, in general, and implement energy-saving measures like LEDs and better insulation. That story references a Chevy Volt owner who noted huge energy savings from such shifts.
Also, it can inspire people to get solar panels… so that they can drive on sunshine, or because the extra electricity use finally justifies them financially (as well as morally). People who already have solar panels but who are limited to the number they can put on their roof by net metering laws can sometimes add more and benefit from the low-cost electricity option. In the Tesla Motors Club thread, “Khatsalano” notes:
I also recently switched to the EV-A plan the month I bought my Tesla. It was really good … until I got solar. Now it’s RIDICULOUSLY good.
I’m selling to the grid when the sun is up at $0.22 – $0.43 / kWh. Then I’m buying back at night to charge my Tesla at $0.09 kWh. Pure pwnage
A recent survey of EV owners/lessees that I conducted (still live, btw) found that ~39% of the 789 respondents also had solar panels.