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Over a quarter of EV drivers still charging at peak hours despite costs and carbon impacts

The research found that only 12% of EV drivers hold off charging their car until carbon and prices are lowest. Image: Getty

The research found that only 12% of EV drivers hold off charging their car until carbon and prices are lowest. Image: Getty

Over a quarter of electric vehicle (EV) drivers currently charge at peak hours despite changes in behaviour capable of saving them up to £360 a year.

This is according to new research from EV comparison website Love my EV. It found that an average EV driver who charges whenever, irrelevant of price, would lose out on savings of £200 per year on their charging. As energy prices increase, this could increase by a further £160.

Additionally, while over half of current EV drivers do charge off-peak, these drivers could also use more efficient strategies to ensure greener electricity with the supply of renewables not always lining up with the off-peak windows of EV tariffs currently on the market.

Analysis of National Grid data by Love my EV for 2019-2020 found the greenest time to charge was between 2am and 4am, when the grid was, on average, supplied by 30% renewable energy. The actual renewable content within these hours ranged from 15% to 45%, and on some days midday charging could have been even greener, the analysis found.

But only 12% of EV drivers hold off charging their car until carbon and prices are lowest, and less than 3% make use of automated charging when energy is cheapest or at its lowest carbon intensity.

As such, Love my EV has suggested that in order to reduce the carbon impact and cost of charging, EV drivers should charge at off-peak times when energy is generally greener, avoid running the battery lower than 20% and set it to stop charging at 80% unless the range is needed for a longer journey, as the first and last parts of the battery take longest to charge, and finish charging as close as possible to the time they leave home in the morning in winter.

Other measures include charging in the shade in a heatwave, and investing in solar PV.

"People need to move away from plugging in their vehicles as soon as they get home from work," Mat Thomson, co-founder of Love my EV, said.

Research from Love my EV earlier this year found that a fifth of EV drivers weren’t aware of EV-friendly energy tariffs, and the majority of those that had heard of the tariffs weren’t signed up to one.

Suppliers such as OVO Energy, Good Energy, EDF, E.ON and ScottishPower have all launched EV tariffs in the past few years.

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