Episode 115: If I buy a plug-in electric vehicle, when is the most efficient time to charge it?
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HOST: If I buy a plug-in electric vehicle, when is the most efficient time to charge it? On this week’s Energy Bite, Jeremy Michalek, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, has some answers.
MICHALEK: Some plug-in electric vehicle owners prefer to charge their vehicles late at night because they’ve heard that it’s better for the electricity grid and that wind power is more available at night.
That’s true, and in places like Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Washington D.C., charging at night could allow grid operators to use cheaper plants and cut electricity generation costs for charging by a quarter to a third.
HOST: That sounds great. Is there a downside though?
MICHALEK: Yes, most of the cost savings I mentioned are due to increased use of inexpensive coal-fired power plants that are available at night. The pollution-related human health costs downwind of those plants can be higher than any operation cost savings.
So until regions like Pittsburgh move to cleaner sources of electricity, plug-in electric vehicle owners hoping to do the best for society should not wait until late at night to charge.
HOST: Would you charge your electric vehicle at night or once you get home? Take our poll, see the results, and ask your energy questions at Energy Bite dot org.
Energy Bite is a co-production between 90.5 WESA and Carnegie Mellon’s’ Scott Institute for Energy Innovation.