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Going Green - Top tips for buying electric vehicles to help save our planet

How to afford an electric vehicle (photo: Adobe)
How to afford an electric vehicle (photo: Adobe)

Latest article from Angela Terry

Green Green campaigner and consumer expert, Angela Terry, separates climate change facts from fiction and here she explains how you can take simple, practical steps to help save the planet. Follow @ouronehome & visit https://onehome.org.uk/ for more advice.

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Q. How can I afford an electric car?

A. Even though electric vehicles (EVs) cost more up-front than cars with traditional combustion engines, their running costs are far less – making them ultimately more affordable.

How to afford an electric vehicle (photo: Adobe)

Indeed, research by LV Insurance compared the combined purchase and running costs of some popular EV models with their petrol or diesel equivalents.

Over seven years of ownership the EVs worked out cheaper.

Here are my tips for affording one in the first place ...

Seek government help

The UK government offers a maximum grant of £1,500, if you buy a new car costing under £32,000.

Grants for installing home chargers, capped at £350, are only available to those living in flats or rented accommodation – in which case please contact the Office for Zero Emissions Vehicles.

The Scottish government offers interest-free loans for electric car purchases – up to £28,000 for a new one or up to £20,000 for a used one.

The Energy Savings Trust administers them.

Research best value models

The price of electric cars changes regularly, but you can find small EVs with limited ranges for around £20,000 – perfect if you only drive short distances.

However, if you need more range and room, Paul Clarke, editor of The Green Car Guide recommends the MG5, costing just under £30,000, as one of the best value family EVs. Indeed, his website is a fantastic source of info.

Buy second-hand

You could look at Autotrader, Cinch or The AA for a used EV. Reliable, practical models that have been around for a while include the Nissan LEAF and the Renault Zoe.

Subscribe

You could try one of the new electric car subscription services. Onto’s monthly subscription includes insurance, servicing and free charging at over 12,500 public charging points.

With prices starting from £379 per month for a Volkswagen e-up!, it works out cheaper than traditional car leasing. Unlike a lease, you don’t pay a deposit, you’re not tied into a contract and you can cancel or swap to a different EV on a month-by-month basis.

Elmo is a similar service. It offers What Car’s best city car 2021, the Fiat 500e, from £449 per month. Or you could also look at Electric Zoo.

Plan for future low-cost charging tech

One interesting development is something called ‘vehicle to grid’ technology. It means drivers charge their cars overnight – when demand for electricity and its costs are low – and later sell surplus electricity back when prices are high, to ensure ultra-low EV charging rates.

This tech isn’t yet available – but it’s coming soon. Octopus Energy and Ovo Energy are both doing trials.

Celebrity spot

Grammy-award-winning Billie Eilish is leading major climate change event at London’s O2 Arena in June.

Billie Eilish is leading climate change event at O2 in London (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

Called ‘Overheated’, it will last six days and take place during Eilish’s ongoing ‘Happier Than Ever’ world tour.

Bringing together climate activists, musicians and designers, it will include performances, film screenings, workshops, slow fashion swaps and panel talks.

All profits will go to the plant-based environmental charity Support + Feed, which is founded by Eilish’s mum, and Reverb, a charity driving climate action through music.

Green swap

Swap your usual search engine for Ecosia – not-for-profit search engine that’s powered by renewable energy.

Swap usual search engine for more ethical Ecosia (photo: Adobe)

Using the money generated by its adverts, it pays for trees to be planted every time you search the web.

To date, it’s planted around 150 million trees globally.

Using infra red power to heat your hot water

Many people install solar panels onto their roofs to generate their own renewable electricity and reduce their bills.

But did you know that you can also use solar energy to heat your water for showers, baths and taps?

You can do this with something called a solar thermal system.

Energy efficiency (photo: Adobe)

How it works

Instead of solar PV panels – which work by directly converting the sun’s energy into electricity – a solar thermal system uses solar collectors.

There are two types

Two types – Evacuated tubes are a set of glass tubes, while flat plate collectors are box-like structures.Both attach to your roof.

Filled with a mix of water and antifreeze, these collectors convert the infra-red part of light into heat.

Once the fluid inside them is heated, it’s pumped round a circuit, which passes through a hot water cylinder.

The heat is transferred by a copper coil, so the water coming out of your taps isn’t the water from inside the collectors.

Benefits

You will have your own supply of hot water from a renewable source.

It will also save you money on your bills – £55 a year when replacing gas heating or £80 a year when replacing an electric immersion heater.

The system’s also cheap to maintain, with a small number of inexpensive parts.

Capacity

Because sunshine varies, a solar water heating system won’t provide 100 per cent of your hot water.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, it will provide you with 90 per cent of the hot water you need in the summer and 25 per cent in the winter.

A conventional boiler or immersion heater normally makes up the difference.

Installation requirements

It’s best if your home faces south.

You’ll need between two and five m2 of space on your roof, with no shade from other buildings, or from chimneys or from trees.

Many combi boilers don’t accept pre-heated water.

If you have one, it most likely won’t link up.

However, if you already have a hot water cylinder, then you may be able to connect the hot water cylinder to the collectors – as long as it has a twin coil inside.

Furthermore, this system is only for hot water – so won’t heat your home.Installation costs

Costs vary, depending on the number of collectors, the size of your home and the specific system you choose.

But expect to pay somewhere between £2,000 and £6,000.

To find a good installer, search on the Microgeneration Certification Scheme’s website.

Fact or fiction

There are microplastics in our blood. True!

Earlier this year, Dutch scientists published research showing the presence of infinitesimal pieces of plastic in human blood.

Doctors are concerned about the health risks. But the best thing to do is to avoid using plastic.

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