YPS Insight: How can I make my EV as green as possible

Electric cars are a greener way to drive than any petrol or diesel model, but that doesn’t mean some are more efficient and better for the environment than others. We look at ways to make your EV as green as possible, saving money and reducing your impact on the environment.



Charge with renewable electricity


The easiest way to make your EV as green as possible is to charge it with renewably-sourced electricity. Electric cars “cost” more emissions to manufacturer than a petrol or diesel alternative, because of the battery components. But there becomes a tipping point where an EV becomes a cleaner car outright, and that os brought forward by using green electricity.

Since there are no tailpipe emissions for an electric model, an EV can quickly recover the deficit on renewable electricity, and the good news is, it’s not difficult. 

There are plenty of home energy tariffs that are backed by renewable electricity, and most of the major public networks are powered by renewables too. 

By switching from the average UK electricity mix to renewably backed electricity, you keep the car on zero fuel emissions, rather than pushing those emissions costs up-stream.

Recharge off-peak


If you can’t easily switch to a renewable energy tariff, try and recharge your EV off-peak. By doing this, not only could you save money if on an Economy 7 or EV-specific tariff, or similar, but you are also improving the emissions mix.

The UK has a significant amount of capacity in its grid, but not at peak times. As such, it’s best to charge when the grid does not need to be supported by gas-fired power stations - coal is almost never used now - and the proportion of renewably sourced electricity from wind turbines and such is greater.

Use brake energy recuperation


All electric vehicles come with a system to capture some of the energy that would otherwise be wasted under braking, inverting the electric motor to charge the battery rather than drain it.

It’s a clever system that allows drivers to extend the range of their car a little “for free”. By using the brake energy recuperation settings - or regen as it’s also known - you can make the most of this efficient little range-extending trick.

Some EVs will just have D and B settings, with D offering little-to-no- braking strength, and B a much stronger level. Others will have variable levels, or even a “one-pedal” setting that allows the driver to drive for much of the time just using the throttle and regen when lifting off.

The key thing is to not simply leave the car in one setting and ignore it. Actually make the most of the systems. On faster roads such as motorways, it’s likely that coasting as much as possible will extend your range further than the braking achieved by using regen. But in the stop/start traffic around built up areas, a stronger setting is often best. Make the most of the system and extend your range significantly.

“Rightsize” your EV


One of the biggest ways to maximise efficiency will be required before you have even chosen your electric car. As mentioned above, the EV battery is the part with the highest emissions cost when manufacturing, and is also a large, heavy element to cary around. So by having as small a battery as possible, you maximise efficiency.

Many drivers will want a large battery to offer a long range, but most never - or at least very rarely - require such a long range. By keeping to a battery and range that is better suited to your needs, you are instantly helping make your EV as green as it can be.

Use Eco mode


If you’re prone to a heavy right foot, the Eco setting could make a significant difference to how many miles you get out of a charge. The more miles, the more efficiently you’re driving, which means that you’re using less electricity per mile.

Most systems will limit throttle response and trim down the effectiveness of systems such as the air conditioning in the name of economy. Some actually limit the power available to the driver however, making the system more effective still.

Drive economically


The above points are specific to electric vehicles, with the exception of Eco mode which is now commonly found on other petrol or diesel models. However, general efficient driving techniques apply to driving an EV as they do with other cars. 

Dropping your top speed can make a big difference to efficiency, particularly at motorway pace, and removing excess weight from your car by taking kit out of the boot that you don’t need for example can all help.

Drive smoothly; gradually building up speed and then trying to maintain it rather than aggressive acceleration and braking will reduce strain on the motor.