How to save money and the planet by driving electric

With the environment firmly on the agenda, people are looking for ways to do their bit and cut their carbon footprint. Here’s how and why switching to an electric vehicle (EV) lets you live a greener lifestyle while making long-term cash savings.

What are people doing to fight climate change?

Here in the UK, the government have promised to cut emissions to 78% below their 1990 levels by 2035. The longer-term plan is to take the country to net-zero by 2050. We hosted the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in late 2021, where we set out more national goals:

Global net zero by the middle of this century
Sticking to the Paris Agreement which limits global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels
Protections for communities and natural habitats
Mobilising the financial sector to make change happen

What happens if we don’t tackle CO2 emissions?

The World Economic Forum got together with NASA, the Climate Impact Lab, Climate Central, and the Washington Post to envision a worst-case scenario for climate change. If nothing is done, temperatures could hit 4°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100.

That would be bad, to put it mildly. The UK would have to deal with coastal erosion and frequent damage from extreme weather. Globally, hundreds of millions of people would be forced to migrate as their environment stops being able to support life.

This is an extreme scenario, but one that we can avoid by taking the right steps. Change needs to happen at a big-picture government level, as well as in our daily lives.

Help save the environment by switching to an electric car

What does this mean for driving? Since petrol and diesel cars are such big CO2 emitters, they’re going to be banned in the UK from 2030. Some hybrids will still be allowed, but no new car sold here can run solely on traditional fuel. The plan is for everyone to switch to EVs sooner rather than later.

Some local authorities are also incentivising low-carbon travel. London’s Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) charges a fee for driving a car that doesn’t meet emissions standards. That’s on top of the congestion charge.

EVs are key to realising our ambitions for the environment. They produce zero emissions themselves, and even when you charge them with electricity generated from fossil fuels, they’re still way greener.

It’s good to bear in mind that the amount of clean energy on the UK national grid is rising. In 2011, it was 8.8%, up to 40.2% by the end of 2020. Every year, the positive impact of driving electric gets bigger.

Is it cheaper to drive an electric car?

The best part is, making the switch to an EV doesn’t have to break the bank. While new EVs typically cost a little more than their traditional cousins, the second-hand electric car market is booming. The number of great deals out there is many times what it was, even a few years ago.

Likewise, there are government incentives and grants available to help with the cost of getting an electric vehicle. Other options, like leasing your battery for a monthly fee, can potentially cut thousands off the upfront cost.

Find out the answer to frequently asked questions, or read our Electric Car Buying guide for useful tips and information on Electric cars.

Five eco-friendly cars

A rapidly expanding marketplace means there’s a lot of choices when it comes to picking the right eco-friendly vehicle.

Some of our favourites include the:

BMW i3, a sleek and efficient city car with a generous range
Audi A3 Sportback e-tron, a hybrid that boasts impressive performance
Ford Mondeo Hybrid voted Britain's Best Family Car
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, a spacious plug-in hybrid SUV
Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion, a sustainable twist on the beloved Golf

Looking for an electric vehicle that won’t break the bank? The myth of EVs as overpriced has been well and truly busted by now. Click here and see our favourite affordable electric cars.

Charging and running your electric car

Once you’ve got your electric car, your carbon footprint starts to plummet along with the amount you spend. In the UK, lifetime emissions are about 30% lower for EVs than traditional cars. That’s 70% lower in places like France and Sweden where more power comes from renewable sources.

As the UK’s clean energy share increases, it becomes more and more eco-friendly to drive electric. Newer models introduce new energy-efficient features which increase efficiency even further.

How much cheaper is running an electric car?

With an EV, your biggest cost savings come in the day-to-day running of the car:

You’re exempt from road tax
You don’t pay extra charges like the ULEZ fee
Charging with electricity is much cheaper than filling up with fuel
There’s no need to worry about unstable petrol and diesel prices
Maintenance is simpler so you pay less for replacement parts

Your driving style and conditions will affect exactly how much cheaper it is to go electric. Batteries lose efficiency in cold temperatures and on hilly terrain. Likewise, if you drive aggressively those bursts of acceleration will take a bigger toll on your juice.

Regardless, you’re almost certainly going to save a serious sum of money in the long run, as well as reduce your carbon footprint, with an electric vehicle.

Tips for environmentally-friendly driving

Your approach to driving can impact how much environmental impact you can make. Here are some tips for greener travel in your all-electric vehicle.

Keep your tyres inflated

If your car’s tyres aren’t properly inflated, it increases the drag and cuts down on engine efficiency. In traditional vehicles, a 1% decrease in tyre pressure robs you of about 0.3% fuel economy. That figure is likely to be about the same for Electric cars.

Make a point of keeping your tyres pumped. Over your car’s lifespan, it’ll translate to a big energy saving.

Think about starting a carpool

If you find yourself travelling the same routes as friends or colleagues on your commute, why not club together and take it in turns to drive. Four people in one car beats four people in four cars any day of the week in terms of eco-friendliness.

If your workplace doesn’t already have a carpool scheme, see if your employer will let you start one up and make a positive change.

Include public transport in your travel plans

From park-and-rides near major cities to simply taking the bus, take a look at how much of your journey you need to do in your own car. Swapping out a portion of your trip with public transport is a fair compromise for the planet. The amount you save on travel will quickly mount up the longer you do this.

Lookers are helping UK drivers cut their carbon footprint

If you’re thinking about taking positive steps to cut your carbon footprint, we can help. We’ve connected thousands of motorists with their next EV and put them on the road to a greener lifestyle.

Learn more about eco-friendly motoring.

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