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Resident Blog: Going Electric...

This is the first in a new series of blogs written by Surrey residents who will be sharing their personal experiences of making changes to reduce their carbon footprint. We hope the blogs will provide other people with inspiration and guidance to make changes of their own. If you think you would like to contribute, please submit an expression of interest via this form.

Debra from Waverley. shares her experience of switching to an electric car.


Going Electric....

We have been quietly stalking the electric car market for some time, toying with hybrids and various size options and trying to make head nor tail of it all. It was only after an unfortunate incident on the A31 when our trusty, reliable and well-loved diesel commuter car unexpectedly retired itself…. we decided to take the plunge and go fully electric! I’d like to say it was an easy choice to navigate, purchase and prepare for, but this wasn’t necessarily the case. As the telly will tell you there’s a new electric car on the market every five minutes with varying costs, benefits, gadgets and gizmos and the all-important one…range. After much debate we went for a shiny black Volkswagen e-Golf.

It turns out that buying the car was just the start of this green journey. Once purchased, we began to investigate home fast charging options. We’re fortunate to have a driveway and for the first week were charging it overnight with a normal 3-pin plug out of our bathroom window. It worked, but not very well as it took 13 hours to charge which was both inefficient and impractical. We used the government scheme -The Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) to install a fast charger. EVHS is a grant that provides a 75% contribution to the cost of installing one ChargePoint. It is capped at £350, but there are additional costs so in total in cost us around £1000. That said, the fast charger was revolutionary and charged the car in less than 4 hours, a huge improvement on the 13-hour marathon.

Additionally, we switched to Octopus Go which gives us cheaper electricity between 00:30 and 04:30. Our charger is ‘economy tariff sensing’ which basically means it will only ever charge during these times unless we override it. It’s quite a clever thing really and comes with an app, so we always know how much is in the battery. Plus, we can switch the car heating on 10 minutes before we get in it in winter, that certainly helps the school run. Charging on this tariff means our approximate cost of charging to a full battery is about £1.75 for 140 miles of range.

It’s surprising how quickly we have become anti fuel. We have a second (diesel) car which we currently can’t do without as we live rurally, but it’s being increasingly left on the drive and we’re getting quite grumpy every time we need to fill the tank up. The net result is that we do our very best only to drive our electric car whenever, and wherever we can.

That said, charging out and about is a work in progress in the UK. Whilst chargers are becoming more plentiful, it is all about planning and, sometimes, trial and error. Suffice to say, once you’ve had to stop three times on a journey on a winter’s night because you haven’t planned properly, you get better at understanding why the range fluctuates in different conditions.

There have definitely been times when our hearts have sunk because we underestimated our journey, and we watch the range drop mile by mile anxiously or got annoyed because we couldn’t unexpectedly divert or change our plans. We’ve gradually got used to this and are happy to accept this unpredictability in the name of ours, and our children’s, greener future. We always do our homework and don’t leave home without identifying the chargers on our route, and check if they are working on the trusty zap map. Planning can also enhance our journey, stopping at restaurants or playgrounds near to chargers and choosing our routes around our mileage needs. Our children are fascinated by the car and educated as to why we made the choice, this certainly helps when they are made to sit in the car when we stop off for a quick 45-minute charge!

One year on and we feel like veterans. We’re happy we went fully electric and would never consider a hybrid now. We are delighted to be making our small difference to the climate change cause. We’ve learnt a lot about how to get the best out of the car and no, we will never drive it to Cornwall with four bikes, a roof box, a large tent and two angry children… ever again!

Our next step is zero waste toothpaste…hoping that will be simpler that buying an EV!

Map of charging points for electric car drivers in UK: Zap-Map

Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme: guidance for customers - GOV.UK (

Please note: This blog includes information and materials based on the opinions and experiences of other users of the site. This information and these materials have not been verified or approved by Surrey County Council. The views expressed by other users on this blog do not represent Surrey County Council views or values. Our full privacy policy is available here .

Posted on 21st October 2021

by Surrey Greener Futures Team