The Environmental Benefits Of Electric Cars, And Why You Should Consider Buying One

by Megan Kioulafofski
environmental benefits of electric cars

Are Electric Cars More Environmentally Friendly?

If you are concerned about air pollution and climate change, and are looking for ways to reduce your environmental impact, the benefits of electric cars are worth considering. In fact, one of the fastest ways to accelerate your transition to an eco-friendlier lifestyle, which takes the health of our Planet into account, is to switch to an electric vehicle. 

Still unsure about what the benefits of electric vehicles are? Let’s have a look at the data.

According to a study made by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, a considerable amount of greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation. This accounts for 28% of emissions, coming in above agriculture, commercial & residential, industry and power generation. To continue with some more alarming numbers, the average North American drives about 10,500 miles per year. Taking a national average of 25.1 miles per gallon, that equates to about 420 gallons of gasoline burned annually – a mind boggling number!

And since giving up entirely on transportation is not feasible for any of us, the greenest alternatives are to either use a bicycle, or to invest into buying an electric car. Owning one is a lot like owning a gas-powered vehicle. The main difference is that you don’t have to spend time at a gas station getting a fill-up. Instead, you need to charge your car and you can either do this at home, or at public charging stations.

Ready to find out what are the pros of electric cars?

In this article, we’ll cover some of the main aspects that are worth considering before going electric. So let’s dig in!

How Do Electric Cars Get Charged?

The biggest environmental benefit of electric cars is the fact that instead of consuming fuel like conventional vehicles, they use eclectic power. This translates into lower carbon emissions and fossil fuels.

Electric vehicle charging comes in three “levels.” Level 1 and 2 can be performed from the owner’s home or apartment, while level 3 requires a supply voltage that is typically only available in areas zoned as commercial.

Level 1 is the most convenient way to charge electric motors, but it’s also the slowest. By using a standard 120-volt wall outlet, Level 1 charging typically adds about four miles of range per hour. Depending on the model of the vehicle, recharging the battery can take between eight and twenty-four hours. For peace of mind, keep a long extension cord in your trunk. This will allow you to recharge almost anywhere you go, even at campgrounds. As long as you can find a standard electrical outlet, you will be able to power your car.

Level 2 charging is typically what people install in their homes. Requiring a 240-volt electric circuit—the same as the used for large electric appliances like dryers or stoves, Level 2 charging is typically six times faster than Level 1 and adds about twenty-five miles of driving range per hour. Most electric vehicles come with a portable Level 2 charger that includes a 240-volt plug and a 120-volt plug, so that it can also be used as a Level 1 charger. 

And since most people are not only preoccupied by the environmental benefits of electric cars but also by the convenience and the aesthetic aspect of installing a charger in their house, a slightly more convenient and cleaner-looking option is to install a wall-mounted Level 2 charger. These range in price from about $180 for aftermarket units to $500 for units from your EV manufacturer. According to HomeAdvisor, it will cost you between $1,200 to $2,000 to have a Level 2 charger professionally installed. 

wall-mounted Level 2 charger

If you live in an apartment, or are looking to rent one, be sure to ask your landlord about any existing electric vehicle charging stations, and whether you will have access to a 220-volt outlet. If your apartment complex doesn’t have electric car charging, you can ask your landlord about having one installed. ChargePoint, one of the largest electric vehicle charging networks in the US, even offers a simple form letter that you can fill out, and send to your landlord for them to request to have a charger installed. A public charger will increase the value of the rental property.

Level 3 provides the fastest charging. Requiring a 480-volt electric circuit, which is typically only found in commercially zoned areas, Level 3 can usually recharge a battery up to 80 percent capacity in less than a half hour. The best part is that while you grab a cup of coffee or snack, your car will be already charged.

Are Charging Stations Easy To Find?

Public charging stations are growing rapidly, and are now commonly located near grocery stores, libraries, public and workplace parking lots, or malls. The United States alone has now more than 20,000 electric car charging stations, with about 90,000 connectors and that’s a 38 percent extension from 2018. This shows that more and more people are starting to consider the environmental benefits of electric cars, and are making the switch.

The charging station market is currently led by three big players. Tesla, the biggest one of them claims to have 1,971 supercharger stations with 17,467 connectors. ChargePoint has 30,000 connectors, while Electrify America has 12,000 charging stations, and 35,000 connectors.

woman charging electric car

What Are The Positive Effects Of Electric Cars?

Electric cars come with much more than just their environmental benefits. Compared to gas-powered vehicles, they are also much cheaper to fill up. Charging at home, takes advantage of the low cost of electric power, with most owners reporting a modest-to-unnoticeable increase in their electric bill. And if you want to save even more money, you can do that by taking advantage of off-peak discounts. Many utilities charge less for electric power during the times of the day when the usage is usually low. So by charging your car at night, the cost for electricity will be lower. If you want to find out the exact costs, your electric company can tell you what the rate difference is.

Under the Hood:

It costs a little over $3.00 to drive a typical electric vehicle one hundred miles. If your gasoline-powered car gets twenty-five miles per gallon, it takes four gallons to cover that distance. Gas prices fluctuate wildly anywhere from $2.50 per gallon to $4.00, so driving one hundred miles would cost you between $10 and $16. That’s $3 versus $10 to $16.

Discounts for electricity vary by the hour and the season. For example, as of July 2020, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) charges 38 percent more for peak power than for off-peak power. LADWP peak hours are 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the summer (June 1 to September 30). Their off-peak hours on weekdays are midnight to 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. to midnight. On weekends, off-peak is twenty-four hours a day. The discount in the winter is much lower.

If you want to go the extra mile in terms of saving, some cities have free public charging stations you can look for. The places to look into are malls, shopping centers, and libraries. There is even an app called the PlugShare which allows you to find free electric vehicle charging.

book about the environmental benefits of electric cars

If you are considering buying a new vehicle and are wondering what are the pros of electric cars, searching the Internet can be a bit overwhelming. The Arrival of the Electric Car, written by Chris Johnston and Ed Sobey PhD, is a comprehensive, easy-to-understand overview of the electric car universe. It includes a buyer’s guide for those preparing to own an electric vehicle, a bit of history, and some aspects of what we can expect in the future. For all those looking to know more about the fascinating world of electric vehicles, this is both a fun and insightful guide.

Final Word On Environmental Benefits Of Electric Cars

As seen above, other than helping you save fuel money, electric cars can also reduce the emissions that contribute to climate change and smog, improving public health and reducing ecological damage. And by charging your electric car on renewable energy sources such as solar or wind, you can help minimize these emissions even more.

If you liked our post about the environmental benefits of electric cars and would like to learn more about how to live zero waste, check out our sustainable living blog. We have a choice of articles you can browse through, depending on your interests.

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