Electric vehicle (EV) sales continue to rise across the globe. The International Energy Agency (IEA) projects a 35% year-over-year increase in EV purchases in 2023, and that trend is only expected to continue.
The reasons for surging sales are myriad, from tax incentives to more consumers seeking sustainable lifestyles. Always among the top factors, however, is the ability to save on refueling costs by ditching gasoline for electricity. As a 2023 Washington Post report shows, those savings can be significant, amounting to anywhere from $22 to $59 per refill on a sedan—and more for trucks—depending on your state.
However, capturing and maximizing those savings can be a tricky proposition. Electricity costs are far more fluid than gasoline prices, varying widely by where and—more importantly—when you charge. If you know how to time it right, you can reduce your EV charging costs. Here’s a look at the best time to charge an EV at home.
Why charging time matters
With a gas-powered vehicle, you hardly have to consider the best time of day to refuel. While gas prices might change slightly over a day, these fluctuations are minuscule compared to the potential differences in EV costs at different times of day.
These variations in EV pricing occur due to what utility companies call “time of use” (TOU) rates. Many electricity providers charge different rates at different times of day to incentivize customers to use less electricity during peak-demand times. These peak times usually occur between 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. on weekdays, when residential customers are awake and business operations are in full swing. As temperatures and activities rise during the day, customers rely on their HVAC and other appliances, and demand surges.
This concentrated demand strains on the electrical grid, especially in heavily populated areas. When that occurs, utility companies may have to rely on more expensive and less sustainable forms of electricity generation or draw power from outside sources to meet demand—driving up costs.
When is the best time to charge EV at home?
The best way to charge an EV at home to avoid strain and reduce costs is overnight or on weekends. However, exact TOU pricing structures vary by utility company and location, and some companies may offer varying rates throughout the day based on shifting demand levels.
Regardless of the exact structure, these off-peak rates are often significantly lower or even free, meaning EV drivers can capture savings by charging during these times. Not only that but charging during off-peak times can also help utility companies lean on more environmentally friendly forms of electricity during the day. If you opt into your utility’s TOU program, you can consider the best time to charge your EV at home.
How to maximize your EV charging savings
Getting your charging timing just right can be easier said than done. Life gets hectic, and your home setup may not readily support overnight charging. Here are three things you can do to ensure you take advantage of the best EV charging rates.
Install a Level 2 charger
The most important way to seize better charging rates is to upgrade your home charging setup. Although EVs come with the equipment necessary for you to plug into a standard wall outlet and charge your car, this method only offers about 4 or 5 miles of range per hour. If you charge during off-peak hours, that’s 40 miles worth of charging time, at most.
A Level 2 home charger, meanwhile, can recharge your car at anywhere from 12 to 60 miles of range per hour. In that case, a single overnight charge is more than enough range for most daily commutes, allowing you to take full advantage of the best time to charge your EV at home.
Purchasing and installing a Level 2 charger can be significantly cheaper with federal and local tax incentives and rebates. Plus, you can easily offset them with the savings you gain from off-peak charging.
Consider pairing solar power with your EV
If you really want to maximize long-term savings and environmental impact, consider adding a rooftop solar system. Especially when paired with a backup solar battery, this setup can provide remarkable energy efficiency. Thanks to our partnership with Sunrun, the nation's leading home solar, battery storage, and energy services company, EV drivers can install a solar array and an Enel X Way JuiceBox® charging station at the same time, providing an integrated home energy solution.
When you opt for this type of solar setup, you’ll have solar energy to power not only your home but also your vehicle. Adding a battery allows you to store excess solar energy that you can use to charge your car during peak hours, thus providing more charging time flexibility.
As a bonus, many utility companies offer net metering or similar programs that allow you to sell excess energy that you don’t use back to the grid in exchange for credits toward your utility bill.
Simplify with smart charging
Even with the ideal setup, it’s difficult to time charging right. It’s easier to charge at work or plug in right when you get home than to remember to do it before bed, so you may forego the best charging rates for the sake of convenience.
Smart chargers remove these uncertainties from the equation. With Wi-Fi connectivity and built-in scheduling software, JuiceBox allows you to “set it and forget it” so you always charge your EV at the best time. You can monitor your charging sessions, set charging targets, and schedule your sessions to capture the lowest off-peak rates.
Best charging times may need to change
Taking these steps will help you charge your EV at the best time, no matter the situation. However, it’s important to note that the best charging time—at least for the environment—can vary by state. In states with heavy solar generating capacity, it’s beneficial to shift more demand toward the daytime hours.
A recent study by Stanford University called attention to this reality, noting that as EV adoption rises and more customers charge overnight, it may tax the power grid in new ways in solar- and EV-heavy western states like California.
Unfortunately, utility companies have yet to adopt new pricing models that would better reflect these environmental realities in these states. Although customers in many western states may still benefit from overnight charging rates, it’s critical to advocate for updated pricing models that won’t conflict with clean energy initiatives.
Maximize your savings with a smart JuiceBox charger
Whatever changes may be in store for TOU charging rates, you can set yourself up to take advantage of the best times to charge your EV at home. By understanding and opting into your utility’s TOU rate plan, installing smart Level 2 charging equipment, and even considering a solar system, you can maximize your long-term savings.
Enel X Way’s smart JuiceBox chargers make it easy and intuitive to manage your charging time and take advantage of off-peak rates. Our chargers can refill your battery up to nine times faster than using a standard home outlet, and you can control everything from our user-friendly Enel X Way App.