Energy price cap: electric car drivers… are they affected?

There’s lots of talk about energy at the moment, and rightly so. Where do we get it from, how we utilise it and (possibly most importantly for some) how much it costs.

If you’re an electric car driver, the cost of your energy is vital to how monitor the costs of your car. So how will the upcoming energy price cap change affect you?

We’ll look into it in this blog and offer some quick wins to keep costs down.

Summary 

A Polestar 2 being plugged in to charge

What is the energy price cap?

The energy price cap, as written by Ofgem (the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets), is:

The maximum amount energy suppliers can charge you for each unit of energy if you’re on a standard variable tariff.

This means, as of 1st October 2023 when the latest change comes into effect, the price cap will be set at £1,923* (which is the highest you’ll be expected to pay). Of course, how much you actually pay depends on your energy tariff and usage. You should check with your energy supplier directly if you’re not sure what this change will mean for you.

NOTE: *This is based on typical consumption over a year. Visit the Ofgem website for more information.

Your energy tariff is what your energy company use to charge you for your gas and electricity usage (and these vary from provider to provider). You could, however, be on a ‘fixed rate’ energy tariff; as these are generally better value, your prices will not be protected by the energy price cap.

You may also be able to get an ‘EV energy’ tariff if your provider supplies them and you drive a compatible electric car. These tariffs generally offer cheaper electricity overnight when demand is low, so you can charge your car for cheaper. These EV specific tariffs are also included under the energy bills price cap.

Why was the energy price cap introduced?

 

The energy price cap came into effect in January 2019 in an attempt to make energy more affordable.

It also means energy suppliers can maintain their costs without customers bearing the brunt of it.

You shouldn’t get this confused with the previously instated Energy Bill Support scheme which discounted all domestic electricity bills automatically through the winter of 2022. This scheme ended in 2023.

The UK energy price cap doesn’t refund you anything, it just stops you getting charged more than the fair amount.

An MG5 charging on a residential street

What does this mean for EV drivers?

Great question, and the one that prompted this article. Our subscribers rely on their electricity supply at home in order to get around, so the cost of their energy bill is really important.

Of course, the fact that the price cap is being lowered (it was previously set at £2,074 between July and September) is a good thing! But, as the cap can change quite often, it’s not something you as an EV driver should rely on to keep the running costs of your car down.

How can I lower my electric car running costs?

 

Here are a few ways:

  • Charge at home where you can – despite all this talk of price caps and tariffs, charging an EV at home is still the cheapest way to power your EV. Public chargers charge a premium for their convenience, so if you can charge your car at home, you should. If you don’t have a home charger, it’s worth considering fitting one as it could save you hundreds of pounds a year.
  • Look into an EV energy tariff – as mentioned earlier, some companies may offer you a specific ‘electric car owner’ tariff that’s tailored for you and your EV. They usually give you the best rates for overnight charging, as electricity is generally cheaper than during the day. That’s because the demand is lower (but this does depend on the tariff so do check!).
  • And utilise your car features – we’re approaching winter which means defrosting season is coming. If your electric car has an app that allows you to warm the car up/defrost before you leave, activate it before you set off. That way, you won’t use up extra energy from the battery while you’re driving. It’s something to adjust to but could save you a few miles of range each day… which will add up! Plus, if you’re leaving from home and the car is still plugged in, defrost/heat up the car before you unplug and you won’t waste that precious range. A couple of cars with this feature include the Tesla Model 3 and MG ZS EV.

 

Is charging an EV still cheaper than fuel?

So, the big question, “is electricity cheaper than petrol?”. How does the energy price cap affect electric cars?

If you can charge your car at home, driving an EV is still cheaper than putting fuel in a petrol or diesel car.

We’ve written a lot of information about this already on our website and compared electricity against petrol:

How much would 50 miles cost?
How much would 200 miles cost?
How much would 1000 miles cost?
How much would 10000 miles cost?
Petrol FIAT 500 Hybrid
£6.40
£25.60
£128.00
£1280.00
Electric FIAT 500e (average tarriff)
£4.80
£19.20
£96.00
£960.00
Electric FIAT 500e (EV tarriff)
£1.45
£5.80
£29.00
£290.00

You could save hundreds and hundreds of pounds a year, if you get the energy tariff right and go electric.

But be aware! You’ll need to do your research. Finding the best deal can take time and, ironically, a lot of energy. However, if you go in with an open mind and positive attitude, you could cut your fuel spending hugely.

Plus, relying on public chargers will cost you more than charging the car at home so do bear that in mind before you commit.

What if I can’t charge much at home?

 

As we say, you will end up spending more on electricity than if you could, but, according to some Zap-Map research at the start of this year, you could still end up saving against owning a petrol car. Learn more about public charging in another blog.

Here’s a few tips:

  • Find your nearest slow chargers – slow chargers are cheaper than the rapid ones (at motorway services for example). If you’re lucky enough to have a slow charger near your home you could leave the car at overnight, you’ll save more money than if you stop en-route at a faster charger to top up.
  • Look into charging subscriptions – most of the big EV charging companies, like BP Pulse for example, have subscription offers where you pay a set fee per month (usually less than £10) but get access to cheaper electricity rates at most of their chargers. If you’ll be relying on public chargers a lot, you could save money – but it’s worth doing the maths first.
  • Don’t forget ‘eco’ mode – if your journeys are mostly town or city driving, where you rarely go above 30/40mph or don’t need to race your way to work, your EVs eco mode could add 15/20 miles to your range by limiting its power.
Blue Fiat 500e being charged by a young man

In summary…

The long and short of it is this: if you get an electric car and can charge it at home, you will save money against driving a petrol or diesel car.

If you’re able to find and switch to a good EV tariff too, you’ll save even more. Do your research, get some advice and see if you could make an electric car work for you… it could be worth your while.

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