What is an EV tariff? An easy guide to charging cheaper

Charge your EV at home for peanuts

What is an EV tariff

EV tariffs are special electricity tariffs for electric vehicle owners. These tariffs offer lower prices per kWh at certain times or when charging an EV, reverting to the standard tariff rate out of hours.

EV tariffs offer excellent value for money, letting you run your electric vehicle for peanuts. The price can be as low as 7p/kWh!

There are two main types:

  • Two-rate tariffs offer cheaper electricity overnight, typically from midnight to 5am. These let you charge your EV inexpensively overnight, or run appliances like washing machines. If you fully utilise overnight rates, two-rate EV tariffs can cost less than the Energy Price Cap protecting standard deals.
  • Single-rate tariffs charge the same rate all day. They usually offer a discounted rate for EV owners or perks like bill credits. Currently, most major suppliers don’t offer single-rate EV tariffs.

To get an EV tariff, you’ll usually need to prove EV ownership. EV tariffs are also covered by Ofgem’s Energy Price Cap controlling costs of standard variable deals. But some EV tariffs are now fixed deals not capped.

How to calculate YOUR cheapest EV tariff

Calculating the best EV tariff takes effort as they don’t appear on comparison sites. For two-rate tariffs:

  1. Estimate your EV’s electricity needs. Check specs to see how many kWh it takes to charge for your mileage.
  2. Get the overnight and daytime rates from EV tariffs to calculate costs. Assume you’ll charge overnight on cheaper rates.
  3. Add EV charging cost to normal electricity use cost for total EV tariff price.
  4. Get quotes from suppliers for regular tariffs including your EV usage.
  5. Compare total cost estimates and pick the cheapest EV or regular tariff.

For single-rate EV tariffs, it’s easier:

  1. Estimate your total household electricity use including EV charging needs
  2. Get an annual price quote from the EV tariff supplier for that total usage
  3. Compare to quotes from regular tariffs and choose the cheapest

How to get an EV tariff

You usually need to contact suppliers directly rather than use comparison sites. Most EV tariffs are only for existing customers too.

If you’re already with a supplier offering EV tariffs:

  1. Ask to switch your tariff – it’s straightforward.
  2. You’ll likely need a smart meter – installation may take a few weeks.

If you’re not already a customer:

  1. First switch to a standard tariff with the EV supplier, likely its cheapest deal.
  2. Ask to move to the EV tariff – phone, email or via your account.
  3. If no smart meter, get one installed which may take weeks. Supplier needs smart meter data for the tariff to work.

Once smart meters providing readings, you’ll be switched to the EV tariff.

Remember, some EV deals are electricity-only. Sort separate gas tariffs too if your EV one is electricity-only.

Running your EV for peanuts

Other than free supermarket chargers, charging your electric vehicle at home is the cheapest way to run it.

You could pay as little as 7p/kWh, which equates to just £3.50 for 50kWh.

Here’s what you need to do it:

  • A smart charger that can schedule charge times and/or set kWh price caps. Discover the best EV chargers here.
  • A charger-compatible EV tariff that gives you access to super-low electricity prices as detailed in this guide.

How much does your electricity bill go up with an EV? The average is around 10% if you have an EV tariff, but your increase might be lower.

Choosing a smart charger

If you don’t already have a smart charger, we’ve reviewed a bunch of them and can make a few solid recommendations.

Our favourite home chargers are the Ohme ePod, Ohme Home Pro, Hypervolt Home 3 Pro and Indra Smart PRO. All four are compatible with the EV tariffs listed below.

Still not sure? Our guide on how to choose an EV charger has you covered.

When choosing a smart home charger, look at the datasheet and make sure the charger is compatible with your preferred EV tariff.

Smart tariffs (EV tariffs)

Smart tariffs, also known as EV tariffs, give you access to a lower kWh price when charging your electric vehicle. They do this in one of two ways:

  • Access to low kWh prices at set times in the night e.g., 12 am to 4 am
  • Acces to low kWh prices throughout the day, linked to your smart charger

Most EV tariffs go down the first route. They basically give you access to cheap electricity when the demand on the grid is lowest.

Your EV tariff will revert to a standard kWh price for all other electricity demands. Your smart charger handles the communication in respect of this, so your electricity bill has an accurate breakdown of electricity consumption.

Types of EV tariff

There are two types of EV tariff:

  • Two-rate tariffs that offer cheaper electricity overnight. These energy tariffs offer cheap electricity between set times every night. During the day, you pay a standard rate and at night you pay a cheaper rate. This is similar to Economy 7 except the kWh rates are much lower.
  • Single-rate tariffs, where you pay a cheaper rate when you charge your EV. These ebergy tariffs require a smart charger with smart tariff integration so your supplier knows when you charge your EV. These tariffs are more convenient, but the rates are often a little higher.

The best EV tariff providers

Tariffs change often, but below are top deals for electric vehicle owners as of November 2023. Currently, the cheapest EV tariffs are two-rate ones due to the energy crisis:

  • Ovo’s Charge Anytime offers 7p/kWh for EV charging. It refunds the difference from your normal tariff’s rates. But it’s only for certain EVs and chargers.
  • Octopus’ Intelligent Octopus has a 7.5p/kWh overnight rate. It also has availability restrictions. As it’s electricity-only, you’d need a separate gas tariff.
  • Octopus Go charges 9p/kWh overnight. Again, you’ll need a additional gas tariff.
  • EDF’s GoElectric has an overnight rate of 8p/kWh. It’s available to new and existing edf customers.
  • E.ON Next’s Next Drive charges 9.5p/kWh overnight and is fixed for 12 months.
  • British Gas’ Electric Driver Oct 24 charges 8.95p/kWh overnight and is fixed until September 2024.

You can compare EV tariffs on price comparison websites, but it’s better in this case to research prices manually. Some suppliers aren’t on price comparison sites and the rates listed are often a bit higher due to the site taking a commission.

Alfred drives a Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus but has his eye on a fully-electric pick-up truck. He'd love an electric Ford Ranger, which should be a real thing in a few years!