15 Ways To Save Money on Electric Car Charging

Unlock the secrets to slashing your electric car charging costs with these genius hacks.

attractive girl at car charging station
Updated June 6, 2024
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Are you considering investing in an electric vehicle (EV) but not sure how it would fit into your budget? If you can make it work, you can virtually eliminate gas station comparison shopping.

It still costs money to charge your EV, whether at home or at a local charging station. However, there are a few ways to keep more money in your wallet when charging up.

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Charge at home

BASILICOSTUDIO STOCK/Adobe electric vehicle charging station at home.

Charge your EV at home for the biggest savings after installing an at-home charging port. You’ll likely pay more to charge your vehicle anywhere else than simply plugging it in at home.

It’s also the easiest way to maximize your time (remember, time is money, too). With potential energy savings rebates and tax credits, that initial home charger investment may be more affordable than you think.

Charge during off-peak hours

Roman/Adobe father and daughter besides electric vehicle

Make sure you’re charging when electricity demand is at its lowest. That may lower your costs for using that energy.

For example, charge during the daytime during the winter months, when heat demands are lower, and overnight in the summer, when AC demands are lower. Charging off-peak like this may reduce your overall costs.

Add solar to your home

slavun/Adobe modern house with swimming pool

Depending on where you live, you could save money charging at home by using solar energy.

If your home is in the right area to collect enough power throughout your day, you’ll eliminate or significantly reduce the cost of charging your EV. More so, solar energy costs tend to be more steady than gas or electricity from a utility provider.

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Find free public charging stations

logoboom/Adobe cars charging at charging station outdoors

Some cities want to encourage the use of EVs, especially to minimize the impact of gas combustion on urban climates. If your area offers a free public charging station, that’s worth it.

Try to visit that free charging station during your normal routine. Use that time to do something you enjoy, talk to a friend, or just relax.

Buy a car with complimentary charging

Serhii/Adobe african american man charging electric car

Some EVs come with complimentary charging — yes, free vehicle charging. If you’re in the market to buy a car now, that’s where you’ll want to start.

You’ll need to research current models offering this, but some Audi, BMW, Chevrolet Bolt, Ford Mustang, and Kia models provide this free service. Consider the charging offer at the time of the purchase to determine if it works for your needs.

Get your alternative fuel infrastructure tax credit

Syda Productions/Adobe asian businessman reviewing bills at work

The Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Credit could help you save money on your taxes the year you install the EV charger in your home.

Be sure you place a qualified refueling system. If you already have one installed, you may still qualify for the credit. The credit for homes is 30% of the cost, with a maximum of $1,000.

Use apps to locate free charging while traveling

Med Photo Studio/Adobe women at electric car charging station

If you’re traveling across the country or just to another town, some apps like Volta and PlugShare can help you locate free or low-cost EV charging stations.

Don’t fall for just using high-priced options often centered near the highway. Free charging stations are out there in many areas.

Tap into the vehicle-to-grid benefits available

Friends Stock/Adobe businessman charging car at charging station

Do you want to make some money or at least offset some of your electricity costs? Choose an EV that offers bidirectional charging so you can use it for other needs.

This special charger would allow you to charge your vehicle during those off-peak hours when the rates are low and then sell the power to the grid when costs are a bit higher.

Find a hotel with free EV charging

DAVID/Adobe electric vehicle charging sign outdoors

You’re traveling again and need an EV charger. If you planned your hotel stay in advance, you could have selected one with free EV charging.

You can also use one of those apps to help you locate these options. For example, all Tesla owners can access the partner offer with Radisson Hotels, which provides free charging.

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Charge for free in national parks

Have a nice day/Adobe man using cable to charge car

Some national parks offer free EV charging stations for visitors. If you’re visiting these parks, there’s no reason not to stop for free charging.

You can use the National Parts Electric Vehicle Charging Map to help you find EV charging stations where you’re headed. 

Not all are free, but some may be (just make sure they’re open when you plan your trip). Oasis at Death Valley, for example, put the free program in place in 2019.

Adjust your driving habits to save energy

VisualArtStudio/Adobe tesla control panel screen showing battery

Another way to save money on EV charging is to charge less. If your car uses less energy, it will be longer between your charges.

There are various ways to do this, such as not hitting the pedal to accelerate rapidly. You can also reduce costs by reducing how much air conditioning you’re using. Use regenerative braking and plan your route to reduce energy use.

Charge wisely

guteksk7/Adobe electric car with charger in parking

Don’t let your car’s battery fall below 20% before you charge it. That depletes it too much and means you’ll need to charge it longer. That initial 20% tends to take the longest to recharge (and the last 20%, too).

Unless you have a long trip, aim to charge the battery based on manufacturer recommendations, often between 20% and 80% charging left. That could be good for your battery’s longevity, too.

Use features like Scheduled Departure

VAKSMANV/Adobe woman sitting in electric vehicle tesla

Tesla offers a feature called Scheduled Departure, which makes sure your car is ready to go when you want to leave your home. Imagine not worrying about freezing halfway to work because the car isn’t warmed up yet.

The benefit here, though, is that this feature makes sure the car is fully charged at that point and the battery is preconditioned, which will optimize its function for you.

Buy an efficient EV

rh2010/Adobe manager selling electric car to client

When you’re ready to buy your first EV (or your next one), do the same as when purchasing a gas-powered car. Look at the efficiency ratings.

Some EVs are far more efficient than others, often due to the amount of gear on board, their weight, and the quality of the battery. New models hit dealership lots each year, too, which means more options for improved efficiency.

Use credit cards with EV rewards

DG PhotoStock/Adobe happy couple showing card in car

Some of the best credit cards offer EV owners rewards, much like those for gas purchases. These cards offer points or rewards at a higher rate if you use them at EV charging stations. 

While free or at-home charging stations may be cheaper, when you have to pay, getting something back for it is helpful.

Bottom line

uflypro/Adobe satisfied man at car charging station

There are dozens of reasons to make the move to an EV. You won’t have to worry about costly fuel-related maintenance, and you’re doing something good for the environment.

Choose a quality vehicle with a long-lasting battery and a warranty. Once you put a plan in place to charge efficiently and create a routine, keeping your car’s battery working at its best is easy. 

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Author Details

Sandy Baker

Sandy Baker is a has over 17 years of experience in the financial sector. Her experience includes website content, blogs, and social media. She’s worked with companies such as Realtor.com, Bankrate, TransUnion, Equifax, and Consumer Affairs.