Be prepared for a real electric shock. If you’ve got an EV which you charge at home and haven’t swapped to a special energy tariff, you’re likely to be wasting around £500 per year.
This is because the energy suppliers are very keen to have electric car owners signing up. Not only will your consumption shoot up because of the charging, but you are likely to plug in at night when demand is low. This makes you a perfect customer, and as a result there are plenty of keen deals.
Sifting through the offers can be a bit of a minefield, so we’ve been crunching the numbers for you to compare some of the best tariffs for electric car users right now.
We’ve had to make certain assumptions though. For the purposes of this feature, we have based the figures on a typical example - but the figures will vary based on your circumstances, car and even the charger. So always get a personal quote to see which works out best for you.
Energy tariffs - the figures
Just for clarity, we need to throw some numbers at you so you can see how we worked out our figures. Skip this next paragraph if you trust us and just want to get to the results.
According to Ofgem, the average power consumption for a three-bed house on a dual fuel supply (so using gas for heating) is 2,700kWh per year. If this customer bought a family-size electric car such as a Nissan Leaf or VW ID.3 with a real- efficiency rate of 3.8 miles per kWh, covering 8,500 miles every year and charging exclusively at home it would add an extra 2,236kWh to the total.
At the standard Ofgem price cap rate of 27p per kWh, the electricity to keep the car running would add £603.72 a year or £50 per month to the energy bill. That’s still usefully cheaper than running a petrol car but shifting to a special tariff could see that fall to just £13 per month.
To keep things simple for our spreadsheet we assumed that all the car charging would be done at night in the off-peak period, which is easily possible for the average driver: four hours on a wall box supplying 7.1kW would be enough for 111 miles of driving on our sample car – more than enough to cover most daily journeys.
We also simplified things by saying all the other domestic power usage would be at the peak rate. If you can shift some of your other electricity consumption to overnight by using timers, the overall savings will easily exceed £500 per year. For example, a dishwasher cycle falls in cost from around 45p to 13p.
Why you need a certain car or charger to get the best EV energy deals
Energy companies really like to have flexibility around supply. When it is the middle of the night, the weather is mild and the wind is blowing there will be lots of surplus power sloshing around in the grid and they will be very happy if they can zap it into your electric car’s battery. When we’ve all arrived back from work and switched on the oven, TV and electric heater the companies would really rather not have to fire up another power station in order to charge electric cars too.
But there is an even more sophisticated solution which sees the supplier talk to your car or wallbox and start the charge when there is the lowest demand on the grid. You just tell the app how much power you need in the battery and when you want to drive away and the technology sorts it all out with no other input from you needed.
Doing this results in even cheaper rates – Octopus for example is 1.5p/kWh cheaper off peak for its Intelligent Go tariff versus its standard Go rate. But there is a catch – currently these intelligent or smart tariffs only work with certain cars and chargers. The list is growing all the time but currently it is around 280 models from Audi, BMW, Cupra, Ford, Jaguar/Land Rover (not OVO) MINI, Porsche, Renault (not on Octopus), SEAT, Skoda, Tesla, VW or Volvo (not Octopus). The two chargers are Ohme and Indra. Octopus has also recently added the MyEnergi Zappi and Wallbox too.
If you have one of these you’ll get the best deals, but it’s not worth changing your existing car or charger to get them as the difference in cost between the best ‘intelligent’ tariff and the cheapest standard off peak is around £100 per year. It’s worth bearing in mind if you are choosing a new car or charger though.
Octopus has recently announced a new V2G tariff which it says offers free charging at home. We haven't included this yet as it requires a very expensive charger and is limited to a narrow selection of cars. When the situation improves we will update the rankings.
Remember the gas
Many homes in the UK will still be running gas for heating and hot water, and it will usually make sense to combine your supplies into a 'dual fuel' tariff to get the best deal. For simplicity we haven't looked at the gas prices in this round up, but if you do require gas then you may find that it tips the balance towards one supplier. For example, Ecotricity's gas is currently cheaper than Octopus so it may make it cheaper as an overall package.
Based on our sums and prices in mid-February 2024, these are currently the best home tariffs on offer to electric car owners – but please read the details to see if there is one which might suit your unique circumstances better.
9. Good Energy
Off peak: 9.1p
Standing charge: 45.7p
Off peak hours: 5
Good Energy isn’t a household name, but most electric car drivers will have heard of its subsidiary Zapmap.
It’s quite tricky to find the energy tariffs on the Good Energy website at all, as it is more geared to selling you heat pumps and solar panels. But dig deep enough and it will give you a quote.
On the positive side you are offered five hours of off-peak power and it’s not just restricted to charging your car. There is no exit fee if you want to leave them either, and the reviews say the customer service is highly rated.
But the prices are too steep for my liking, with the highest peak rates and standing charge in this comparison, while the off peak rate which is just fractions of pence cheaper than Eon. The result is that Good Energy’s annual cost is £1,567.77 – a massive £486.48 per year more than the winner and close to most companies’ standard tariffs.
8. E.On Next Drive – Good for very heavy users
Off peak: 9.5p
Standing charge: 43.7p
Off peak hours: 7
The main attraction of E.On’s Next Drive is a huge seven hours of lower-priced electricity, compared to the four or five hours offered by the rivals here. It’s a ‘dumb’ tariff so open to any car or charger and the off peak rate stretches from midnight to 7am. Those extra three hours would give 83 more miles of range every day in my example electric car.
That means this tariff could be the cheapest for drivers who clock up more miles than average and might need to take on more charge overnight. You’d also be able to run other energy sapping appliances for longer too – for example using an immersion to heat the water ready for the morning rush to the shower would be easy as the power is still cheap at 7am.
The downside is that the off-peak rate is the most expensive here 9.5p per kWh, and the peak and standing charges are at the bottom of the chart too.
On the plus side, the prices are fixed for a year and there are no exit fees.
7. Scottish EV Saver - Good for heavy users
Off peak: 7.5p
Standing charge: 44p
Off peak hours: 5
You have to dig deep into Scottish Power’s website to find any detailed information about the EV tariff, which made me think it might have something to hide. It turns out to be something of a mixed bag.
The EV Saver has a particularly competitive off-peak rate of 7.45p/kWh and it offers it for a full five hours – enough for 138 miles of range in my sample car. Only the ‘intelligent’ OVO Charge Anytime can beat it for time and price.
Unfortunately the EV Saver’s daytime peak rate is right at the bottom of my chart, at 34.5p/kWh. The standing charge is a pricey 44p too.
This means our annual total comes out at a very average £1,260. There’s a £100 exit fee if you want to swap suppliers too.
6. EDF GoElectric Overnight
Off peak: 8p
Standing charge: 44p
Off peak hours: 5
There’s nothing terrible about EDF’s only electric car tariff, but there’s not much we can say to recommend it either. The off-peak rate of 8p/kWh is valid for five hours, but confusingly the times vary between 12am-5am during winter when the clocks are using GMT and 1am-6am during Summer. This will cause something between inconvenience and chaos depending on your ability to reset clocks and timers on your car and/or charger. If you forget, you’ll accidentally be charging for an hour at the expensive rate for six months.
The peak rate and standing charges are on the high side too and I’d be seriously grumpy when EDF charged me £150 in exit fees to move a dual fuel account to another supplier. On the plus side the tariff works with any car.
5. Ecotricity EV Tariff
Off peak: 8p
Standing charge: 53.3p
Off peak hours: 5
It’s a welcome return for long-term electric car supporters Ecotricity, which was the first energy company to launch a special tariff but dropped out a few years ago.
The new package highly competitive rates, making it cheaper than the ‘benchmark’ Octopus Go prices for both off peak and peak. But this saving is wiped out by the highest standing charge of any of the tariffs in this list. The 53p/day rate makes in around £45 more per year for the standing charge than the cheapest, from British Gas.
Do the sums and it means Ecotricity is £12 behind Octopus Go in our calculations, but you do get five hours of cheap charging compared to four, which could be crucial if if need to get more miles into your battery. You’ll need to reset all your timers when the clocks change though and the low-cost electricity is from 12am-5am in winter and 1am-6am when the clocks change for summer.
The Ecotricity tariff is also fixed for 12 months. While this gives some security, it will also mean you are locked in if prices fall and there’s a £100 exit charge (per fuel - so £200 if you take gas too). There's no requirement to own a certain type of charger or need to prove EV ownership - the package is open to anyone with a smart meter.
4. Octopus Go
Off peak: 9p
Standing charge: 42p
Off peak hours: 4
Electric car drivers get quite evangelical about Octopus Go, and that includes me. It’s no exaggeration to say it has saved me personally hundreds of pounds while I’ve been using it. So it’s surprising to see it is only 4th in our ranking, but its seems Octopus has lost interest in this product, and rivals – especially British Gas – are targeting its customers with careful undercutting.
The smart tariff provides power at 9p/kWh between 00:30 - 04:30 every night and it works with any car, charger and anything else you want to plug in overnight. But it’s really tricky to find mention of it on the Octopus site, and only after going through the process of working out you aren’t eligible for the Intelligent tariff is there any indication that this ‘old’ version of Go is still available. The company has assured me that there are no plans to discontinue it, however.
It does reasonably well in this test as the figures are still competitive but it’s worth bearing in mind that you only get four hours of cheap power - the shortest off-peak period of any rival. This might be enough to cope with our average usage, but it will mean you’ll be topping up expensively if you need more miles for a longer trip. If you needed the extra hour of power even just once a week for a longer trip then it will add an extra £82 to the annual total. Can we have an extra hour please Octopus?
3. British Gas Electric Driver V3 – best for all cars/chargers
Off peak: 8.95p
Standing charge: 41p
Off peak hours: 5
British Gas beating Octopus is going to be a real kick in the tentacles for the EV drivers’ favourite supplier. But the Electric Driver V3 rates are fractionally cheaper than Octopus Go in all the areas, which adds up to a saving of around £8 a year in our example.
It will clock up a little more if you are a heavy user, plus you get an extra hour of cheap charging every night, with the off peak rate running from 00:00 to 05:00 compared to Octopus’ 00.30 to 04.30.
The company is also currently offering half price electricity every Sunday from 11am to 4pm - that’s not as cheap as the overnight rates but is still a welcome bonus if you have a busy week of driving ahead or have got back from a longer weekend trip.
There’s no exit fee either, which means the Electric Driver V3 is the cheapest for EV owners who don’t have a car or charger which can connect with the ‘intelligent’ tariffs which take the top two spots in this test.
We’d offer one word of caution though – British Gas gets very lowly scores in customer service charts. If the overall saving is fractional, you may decide its worth a few quid extra to go with a company that answers the phone.
2. Intelligent Octopus Go (certain cars/chargers only)
Off peak: 7.5p
Standing charge: 42p
Off peak hours: 6
Head to the Octopus website and ask for a quote on one of the company’s ‘innovative’ tariffs and you will be pointed towards Intelligent Octopus Go. There you will be asked a series of questions to see if your car or chargers are compatible. If they are, you will be treated to charging at 7.5p per kWh and at least six hours of power at the same rate for the rest of your household usage, from 11.30pm to 5.30am.
Key to it is an app which you set up to say how much charge you want and when you want to leave in the car. Then the Octopus software works out when there is excess supply in the grid and automatically charges your car while you sleep.
But it’s not quite the cheapest, being beaten on the off peak rate by both Scottish and OVO. The peak price is in third place too, behind OVO and British Gas.
But having six hours of cheap power could be crucial if you can programme appliances – or a second electric car – to charge overnight. While the site suggests it only works with the usual Ohme, Indra and MyEnergi Zappi chargers, the company says it is also now compatible with Wallbox.
1. OVO Charge Anytime (certain cars/chargers only)
Off peak: 7p
Standing charge: 43.9p
Off peak hours: N/A
Based on our figures, OVO is a clear – and surprising - winner, but there is a wrinkle which means the saving might not be as big as it looks in the real world.
But first, the positives. Like the Octopus Intelligent tariff, OVO’s Charge Anytime uses clever tech to monitor when the grid has excess supply and charges your car. You choose how much power you need and by when and it starts the charge automatically. This requires you to have a compatible car and/or charger, and OVO no longer offers any specific EV tariffs for anyone without this connectivity.
If you do qualify, OVO will give a rebate on your bill for every kWh of energy which goes into your car using the scheduled charging, making it the equivalent of 7p/kWh; that’s 0.5p cheaper than Octopus. Crucially the peak rate is cheaper too, at 28p versus 31p.
If you need your car in a hurry, you can override your smart charging schedule with the Charge Now function and you'll be charged at the standard peak rate.
Despite a standing charge which is just under 2p a day more expensive, this adds up to a saving of £77 per year. OVO’s customer service ranks higher than Octopus’ too, according to Citizens' Advice. Other surveys place Octopus higher though.
But here’s the rub. OVO only offers the cheaper rate on the electricity which flows through the charger, and not on any other energy used in the home overnight. If you are able to programme appliances so you can run the dishwasher and washing machine overnight then it’s very likely that Octopus’ £77 disadvantage would soon disappear in the average family house.
Verdict - which are the best electricity tariffs for electric cars?
First, the cheapest deal for you will depend on all sorts of variables so get a quote using your own figures – but hopefully this will give you an idea of where to start so you don’t spend a day tapping details into websites.
If you have a compatible car, or a charger made by Indra or Ohme, you are going to get the best deals as they allow the supplier to manage the charging depending on the demand on the grid. That’s something to bear in mind if you haven’t yet bought your EV or chosen your charger.
Assuming your set up is compatible with these intelligent tariffs, OVO looks the cheapest. The downside is that it only gives the cheaper rate on the power going to your car and doesn’t allow you to run appliances or charge other devices at night on the lower cost energy. That could well swallow up the savings versus Octopus’ Intelligent Go, which gives a full six hours of cheaper charging.
If you are stuck with ‘dumb’ cars and chargers (like me) then British Gas’ offering looks very tempting. Not only is it cheaper overall but it offers an extra hour of charging compared to the next best option from Octopus.
An honourable mention goes to E.On. Although the prices aren’t the sharpest, it offers seven hours at the lower rate which could result in big savings if you regularly need to do longer journeys and need a charge from empty to full overnight.