I’m 40 days into owning a 2016 Kia Soul EV. I don’t like it, I loooove it! Yes the car is boxy and a little ugly looking but with the rise in gas prices, I’m happy to have made the switch to have this as the main car. I almost had a heart attack last week filling up my dog mobile, minivan to the tune of $80. I’m glad I’m not doing that x2 anymore. Naturally when I first got the car, a lot of my neighbors were
nosy skeptically curious and had the same questions everyone did “What if you run out of electricity!” “Won’t it make your electric bill really high?”
As far as the first question goes, it’s called planning. You have to remember to plug in your car every night (then I have it set to charge after 11, more on that later) and there are charging stations everywhere if you need to top it off during the day. Okay, sounds great right? So, what’s with the charging? There are three types of charges for EVs: Level 1, 2 and 3. Level 1 is your basic normal outlet. It takes about 20 hours to fully charge a car that’s at zero. Obviously this does not work if you plan on draining your battery every day. The Kia Soul has a range of 104 miles and it actually sticks pretty close to that. Having the AC on will shorten the range 10 miles. Thankfully, I don’t drain the battery on a daily basis. I have driven to Anaheim and back with about 30 miles to spare but, it did take overnight and well into the next morning to recharge. Level 2 is a faster charger that takes 240V and that is what most of the chargers you see in public and at homes are. It can charge your totally dead battery in about 4 hours. There are quite a ton around in California, within walking distance of my house even. Level 3 chargers are a little harder to come by (the closest ones to me are the LA Zoo and in the Vons Parking lot on Pass Avenue) and can charge you up in about 30 minutes give or take.
So far, I haven’t run into any snags not having a Level 2 Charger at home, mostly because I tend to not do heavy driving every day but, if you do drive a lot every day, it’s not possible to live off of just a level 1 charger alone. Even though it’s been working so far, I am still in the process of having a Level 2 charger installed at my house. Like all things in a 1938 house, it’s not as easy as just installing a charger. A new 240V line has to be run and due to the location of the porch, nonexistent attic and crawl spaces, it’s a pain to the point where the electrician looked kind of horrified when I showed him. I was hoping to keep the install itself under a certain amount, but it’s going to be about 40% more than I anticipated. As far as the charger goes, I went with a Chargepoint. It got great reviews and as a bonus was on sale for Earth Day for $559 instead of $699. They have various cord lengths, but I went with the longest one (25′) because the layout of my porch and driveway is funky. Thankfully, Burbank Water and Power like most utility companies offers $500 rebate when the job is completed which will cut a nice chunk off of the price of the charger and install. Hopefully, it all goes well with my schedule, the electricians schedule and the schedule of the person removing a giant plant that’s in the way, a level 2 charger will be at my house at the end of the month.
In the meantime the second big question, how is my utility bill? The short answer is it’s fine. I see no difference but it’s a little more complex than that and I wanted to offer a (probably very boring) Samantha explanation on it all. Burbank Water and Power offers “time of use” electricity for EV owners. Instead of the normal tiered pricing .11 for under 250 kwh of use, .16 for over 250 kwh they offer the following:
Off Peak (All year 11PM-8AM): .0833 kwh
Winter /Summer Mid Peak (All year 8AM-11PM except below): .1666 kwh
Summer On Peak: (June 1-October 31 4PM-7PM) .2500 kwh
For those curious, here is a link to the info with Burbank Water and Power.
Essentially, it gives EV owners an incentive to charge their car at night and not use precious power during the late afternoon and early evening when the power grids are at their peak usage. One of the curious things about being on time of use power is that it turned me into the electricity equivalent of a hybrid car driving hyper-miler. I’ve become OBSESSED with using as little electricity as I can during mid peak (on peak starts June 1st and goes through October 31st) and diverting as much usage as I can to off peak. This lends itself well to the fact that I’m also an incredible cheapskate so when I can do laundry essentially at half the price (.08/kwh vs .16/kwh), I’m sold. The answer is yes, I also did the math and a load of laundry costs .40 cents in electricity vs .80 (I told you I’m weird!).
For instance before time of use, I would do my laundry and run my dishwasher whenever. Now, I make sure to load my dishwasher and washing machine at night and use the time delay to have them run after 11. Thanks to the three dogs I’m typically up before 6 AM and have enough time to dry clothes before the dreaded 8AM switch to midpeak. It takes a bit of a lifestyle shift, but I feel the savings is well worth it. I also noticed that I’m more consistent with doing laundry and dishes because I know that I only have one “shot” every day to do it. If I forget and let it sit, I have to wait until the following night. Now, it’s just part of my bedroom routine to start the dishwasher and washing machine on a time delay. Isn’t technology great?!
My first electric bill was almost the same as in previous years even with increased usage with an EV. When I switched, I filled out the form thinking it would apply to the next billing cycle. They actually applied it retroactively which made me kind of nervous! All that mid peak laundry before the EV! The lights! The oven vent fan I accidentally left on all night in March! Whyyyyy! Thankfully it didn’t matter at all because I had a fair amount of off peak usage anyway. I can’t wait to see what my bill is next month since I’ve been in off peak usage overdrive or quite frankly, how much I flip out when high peak starts in the summer.