Electric vehicle (EV) energy tariffs: what are they and are they worth it?

An EV charger is plugged into a vehicle with faded energy supplier names in the background (images: Getty Images)

The energy crisis is still very much with us, and gas and electricity prices are continuing to drive the squeeze on our budgets. Visit our energy deals comparison guide to find out how to save money on your bills.

Cutting your gas and electricity usage is one way to slash your costs. You can also keep hold of more of your cash through the new types of tariff that have emerged in recent years, including electric vehicle (EV) tariffs.

With more and more people driving electric cars, these products offer EV drivers the chance to charge up their vehicle’s batteries for less. But how do they work – and are they worth switching to?

What is an EV tariff?

An EV tariff is a product that’s specifically targeted at drivers of electric vehicles. The options currently available on the market work in a similar way to economy 7 and time of use (TOU) tariffs.

The idea is that you get discounted electricity unit rates for charging your vehicle during off-peak hours – usually overnight. The hours when you can access these cheaper rates tend to be an hour or two shorter than they are for other time of use tariffs, but your day rates may be less expensive – albeit still higher than with standard tariffs under the price cap.

While EV tariffs are specifically aimed at owners of electric vehicles, the cheaper unit rates you get with them apply to all of your electricity usage. So, you can save money on all the electricity you use at off-peak times, whether it be for a washing machine cycle or to power an electric blanket. 

If you can shift your use but don’t have an EV, look at the Octopus Agile tariff, where rates change every half-hour.

Variable EV tariffs offering a dual rate are covered by the Ofgem energy price cap, while fixed deals are not. Unlike standard variable tariffs that have a flat rate throughout the day, suppliers have to come in below a weighted average unit rate that takes a typical home’s day and night usage into account. The exact rate varies from region to region. To find out what your cap is, contact your supplier.

Am I eligible for an EV tariff?

As well as owning an EV charger, you will need to have a smart meter fitted to be eligible for this sort of tariff. This is because your energy supplier needs to be able to precisely measure your usage.

It should be noted that many suppliers also require you to be an existing customer if you’re to sign up. If you aren’t already with that provider, you may have to switch to one of their other tariffs before switching across to their EV-specific deal.

Alongside these requirements, you are likely to have to prove that you own an electric vehicle. Some suppliers will only cover certain makes and models of EV, so it’s worth checking whether the vehicle you have or want to buy is included. For example, Ovo Energy has a full list of EVs it will supply energy for. Your provider may also only support certain types or brands of charger.

Another key thing to check when signing up for this kind of tariff is whether it is single or dual fuel. Some suppliers offer electricity-only products, meaning that if you have gas, you will need to get a separate tariff for it.

An EV charges (image: Getty Images)

Is it worth moving to an EV tariff?

Estimates about the cost savings you can make with an EV tariff vary widely. But the consensus is that you can save £100s a year compared to if you stick with a standard tariff. 

The size of your potential savings with an EV tariff versus a regular one will all very much depend on:

  • The type of vehicle you have
  • How often you use it
  • How far you drive it
  • How much of your general energy usage you can move to off-peak times.

Even if you did stick with a regular tariff, your cost of living is still likely to be lower overall given you won’t be paying for expensive petrol or diesel.

An EV can increase your household’s energy use by as much as 50%. At the same time, current EV tariffs offer off-peak rates that are significantly cheaper than those offered by economy 7 tariffs (time of use tariffs can vary day-by-day, so a comparison is hard to make). So long as you’re doing the bulk of your charging at home and this is taking place outside of peak hours, an EV tariff is likely to be a better bet to keep your bills down.

If you don’t currently have an EV but are considering buying one, it’s worth looking at which suppliers offer bundles that may help you to save on charger installation. For example, E.on Next is currently offering £50 off a home charger. The government also offers a chargepoint grant of £350 (or 75% off the cost of getting a socket) if you live in a flat or rented accommodation.

There is one Black Friday deal that’s potentially worth looking at – although you will have to do a bit of maths to worth out whether it’s cost effective for you. New and existing British Gas customers who buy a Hive EV charger (£939) and opt into smart charging can get free charges for a year. It will mean your vehicle will charge at times when energy’s at its cheapest, which can be random. But if you’re able to be flexible, you’ll be credited with around 8,000 miles worth of power (assuming your EV does 3.5 miles per kWh).

What are the cheapest EV tariffs?

Look After My Bills has looked at the latest EV tariff offerings from the UK’s biggest energy suppliers. Below is a table of what’s currently available, the average off-peak electricity unit rates they offer, and how long their off-peak hours run for (usually five to seven hours overnight from midnight).

Prices may differ depending on tariff type and the extras offered, such as ‘fully renewable’ energy. In most cases, the off-peak prices will be fixed for a year.

Supplier Tariff name (and key info) Off-peak unit rate (per kWh) Number of off-peak hours
Ovo Energy Charge Anytime (free tariff add-on that offers credit for smart charging) 7p (EV charging only) N/A
EDF Pod Point EV Exclusive (only available to Pod Point customers) 7.4p 5 (7 days a week)
Octopus Energy Intelligent Octopus Go (variable) 7.5p 6 (7 days a week)
EDF GoElectric Overnight (fixed 1 year; £75 exit fee per fuel) 8p 5 (7 days a week)
Scottish Power EV Saver (TOU) 8.3p 5 (7 days a week)
British Gas Electric Driver (TOU; no exit fees) 8.95p (available until 30 November) 7 (7 days a week)
NEW: Good Energy Smart Meter EV (variable) 9.41p (peak rates from 34.63p) 5 (7 days a week)
E.on Next Next Drive (TOU; no exit fees) 9.5p 7 (7 days a week)

Prices correct as of 17 November 2023

How to save money with an EV tariff

There are a few ways through which you can maximise your savings with an EV tariff. Look After My Bills has listed them below:

  • Set up your charger to come on at off-peak times: if you have a smart charger, you will be able to ensure your EV is only powering up when your cheaper rates are available. You will also be able to control how much charge your battery will get, as well as a minimum charge level that the EV will be prevented from falling below.
  • Use your energy hungry appliances at night: EV tariffs allow you to use any electricity at a discounted price in off-peak hours. So you can bolster your savings by timing your washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher to come on at your designated cheaper time. But, as always, don’t run these sorts of appliances while you’re fast asleep as they represent a fire risk. Instead, set them to come on when you’re likely to be waking up.
  • Watch out for clock changes: they may mean your cheaper times will go back or forward by an hour depending on the time of year. Check with your energy supplier to see whether you need to do anything.
  • Drive your EV efficiently: to reduce the amount of charging you’ll need to do at home or on the road (where it’s more expensive), try to drive in an economical way. This means reading the road so you don’t have to sharply break or accelerate, keeping within speed limits, and not overusing your heating or aircon.

For more on how to cut your gas and electricity usage, visit our energy saving top tips guide.