By now you’ve heard the buzz. Electric vehicles are on the roads.

Parking lots are designating spots specifically for EVs, complete with charging stations. Owners are charging their EVs in their own homes.

For most individuals, this brings one question to mind: What is it like to own an electric vehicle?

Charging at home

EV owners have additional responsibilities when driving one home. In exchange for eliminating trips to the gas station, owners will need to “refuel” their vehicle by charging the on-board battery pack. While recharging can be done at a growing number of public charging stations, a vast majority — over 90% in fact — of charging is done at home.

For home-charging options, EV owners can utilize two different levels of charging.

Level 1 charging involves using an adapter (typically included with the vehicle) plugged into a standard 120-volt outlet. This recharges the battery slowly, at a rate that adds about four miles of driving range per hour of charging.

Level 2 charging is the more popular at-home option, but it requires more than just plugging in an adapter to a standard wall outlet. Level 2 chargers are typically installed on a 40- to 50-amp, 240-volt circuit. Level 2 charging units are sometimes included with an electric vehicle’s purchase, but sometimes not, so be sure to ask when you’re car shopping.

With a Level 2 charger, charging rates increase drastically to approximately 25 miles of range per hour — easily restoring fully battery life in a matter of hours and perfect for overnight charging.

Level 2 chargers should be installed by a licensed electrician to ensure all local codes are followed. And before getting one installed, think about your current and future needs when deciding where it should go. Do you typically park on one side of the garage instead of the other? How long is the charging cord? Will more EVs be added in the future? Each installation is unique to the home and the EV owner, so pick the location that makes the most sense.

Electric bill impact

New EV owners can expect an increase on their energy bill. Exactly how much will vary based on vehicle type, miles driven, etc.

An additional 300-400 kilowatt hours per month is a rough average for power needed for an EV driven 36 miles per day.

At first glance, 400 kWh seems like a lot. Using 12 cents per kWh adds up to $48 per month, $576 per year. But what is saved by avoiding the gas pump?

Let’s assume the EV replaced a similar-sized car averaging 35 miles per gallon of gasoline. With gas now at $2.75 a gallon, driving 36 miles per day in that car will cost $85 per month, $1,020 per year.

In that example, the electric vehicle saved $444 during that year in fuel costs. And the savings go higher with more miles driven.

The main point here is while your electric bill will go up, you’ll easily make up the difference eliminating the gas bill.

Speaking of your electric bill, many electric utilities offer a variety of incentives for both new and existing electric vehicle owners. These incentives range from cash toward a vehicle purchase or in-home charger installation to special time-of-use rates offering significantly reduced energy costs during non-peak/overnight hours to promote off-peak charging when energy is widely available on the grid.

For more details, contact your electric provider for options available to you.

Adam Westaby is a member services associate specializing in load management and key accounts at Eau Claire Energy Cooperative. House Calls is submitted by members of the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association. For more information, call 715-835-2526 or email info@cvhomebuilders.com.