While the electric car vs petrol car debate has raged on for some time now, one area of the argument that has never been in doubt is the matter of running costs. Once you get past the upfront ticket price, the short and long-term costs attached to EV ownership are substantially lower than those of traditional combustion engine counterparts. The biggest of those overheads is fuel costs, which sit at roughly a third of the cost of the average petrol car.

However, domestic energy tariffs have seen substantial change for the worse. The energy price cap increased by 54% as of 1 April, with average household bills set to rise by around £700. For EV owners, that means charging costs are on the up, but how badly will that affect overall ownership costs and, perhaps more crucially, EV running costs versus those of petrol and diesel alternatives?

Why are energy prices rising?
Firstly, how did we get to this point with energy costs?
Energy price rises are affected by increases in wholesale gas prices – i.e. the amount energy firms pay for the gas in the first place. According to Money Helper, energy prices have been on a steep rise since October last year, with gas prices hitting a record high as the world reawakens from the lull of lockdowns, alongside other economic factors.

What is the energy price cap?
Secondly, what is the energy price cap that is the underlying cause behind energy price rises?
The energy price cap was introduced at the beginning of 2019 by regulator Ofgem as a method of capping energy prices at reasonable levels for UK households. The energy cap limits how much supplies can charge you per unit of gas and electricity used, so there’s no upper limit to what you can pay. It’s a control placed on the individual unit price.

The cap is reviewed every six months, with the energy price cap in April 2022 surging by 54% due to the factors mentioned above.

What does this mean for the cost of running an electric car?
With energy prices high, the cost to charge an electric car in the UK will naturally come up too.
But, how much does it cost to charge an electric car? According to Which, typical charging costs for an annual mileage of 8,100 miles can span anywhere from £750-1,150 a year depending on the size of the EV you own. In light of new energy tariffs, however, charging costs could go up by around £200.

That’s no small figure to consider, but your new total is still likely to be nowhere near that of the fuel costs of a petrol or diesel car. Data analysed by NimbleFins suggests motorists spend an average of £1,288 a year fuelling their petrol cars, and £1,795 a year fuelling their diesel cars. Furthermore, these figures were based on average mileage figures of 6,300 miles and 9,400 miles respectively, meaning the latter cost for diesel figures is a much closer comparison point to the data from Which.

Of course, it only takes driving by one petrol station to know that fuel prices have absolutely skyrocketed alongside energy tariffs. So, in reality, everyone is now paying notably more, regardless of the type of technology behind their car’s powertrain.

What can you do to bring your charging costs down?
Everyone’s paying more now. While that might offer some rather unsatisfying relief for EV owners, there are ways to bring your charging costs down – although there’s no easy way around what are almost comprehensive energy price rises.

Still, if you’re looking to move frugally while energy prices are soaring, there are a few things you can do:

  • Shop around: The energy price cap has seen prices rise across the board, so you’re not going to find a ‘cheap’ deal anywhere at the moment. What you can do, however, is shop around. The energy cap dictates the maximum amount you’ll be paying these coming months – you may be able to find an energy provider who is offering better-than-average rates.
  • Move to a specialist tariff: Some energy suppliers offer specialist packages for EV owners. The general theme around these tariffs is to offer you cheaper charging rates at off-peak times – for example, charging your car through the night. However, many providers have dropped these schemes from their offering as of the changes this month, or increased the prices attached to the tariffs.
  • Use your vehicle less: Stating the obvious? Perhaps, but the post-pandemic world means many of us now work in more flexible working set-ups that allow for increased remote working. If you’re heading to the office every day and don’t need to, it might be worth taking a few more days from home to limit your travel and mitigate the associated costs.

No matter whether you’re driving electric, hybrid, petrol or diesel, we’re all going to have to stomach some steep fuel costs. When compared to running a combustion vehicle, the associated operating costs remain lower.

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