INSIGHT FROM THE ENERGY SAVING TRUST:

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF A PLUG-IN VEHICLE

Thinking about your car

Not everyone is able to charge their vehicle overnight at their home. For those who cannot “gorge” their car to fully charged there is another possible answer. This is what’s described as “grazing” charging behaviour, where a driver plugs their vehicle in whenever they see an available chargepoint, no matter how short the period of time may be. No different from charging your phone whenever and wherever you can.

If you think through your week there may be many opportunities for an hour or two of charge. If you are unable to charge at home it is important that you check to see what public charging infrastructure is available, who the operators are and the cost to charge in the areas that you usually drive, before buying an electric vehicle. If your car is capable of being rapid charged this can provide a quick top up if needed.

Thinking about charging at home

The most efficient and cost-effective way to charge plug-in vehicles is overnight at home when they are largely unused and when low rate electricity tariffs are available. Initiatives are in place to improve the on-street charging infrastructure (chargepoints) for drivers without access to off-street parking. For those with off-street parking, it is recommended that a homecharge unit is installed (grants are available towards its cost and installation), as they are safer and will charge the vehicle much more quickly.

Homecharge units come in a number of variants:

• Tethered units: are more convenient as they remove the need to connect a cable at both ends every time you charge. However, as there are two types of vehicle inlet sockets, a tethered unit restricts which vehicle models can be charged.

• Socket units: are more flexible but you have to plug the cable in when you wish to charge.

Chargepoints can also vary by the power they supply to a suitable vehicle.The options are usually 3.7kW or 7kW. The higherpower chargepoint is slightly more expensive but will reduce charging times by about half assuming that the vehicle being charged is capable of being charged at this rate.

For more information, have a look at EST’s website. There’s a series of short introductory videos, helpful information about charging, electricity tariffs and the grants available, as well as tips for driving efficiently to maximise range. Go to: www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/transport/electric-vehicles