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Archive for September, 2020

Peace & Calm

September 27th, 2020 at 01:56 pm

Hell froze over and I got a week of peace and calm. There's probably a million things I could/should have done. But... Treated the week as a long overdue staycation and didn't do much of anything productive. I felt like I was figuratively gulping in the fresh air but I guess it was also quite literal. I had to pinch myself that our staycation destinations all had clean air on the days we planned. Was trying to keep it flexible, but locked in reservations one day and it still worked out. (The air quality has been very patchy). We had a difficult time spending any of our vacation funds. I did some rough math and an old average of $100/month for car gas will now give us 8,000 miles of driving. We enjoyed this incredible freedom. If I want to drive to the beach every single weekend, cost of fuel is no longer a limiting factor. On Tuesday we took advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and had Muir Woods (redwood forest) mostly to ourselves. It was *amazing*. We didn't see another soul once we left the main trail, and had a picnic spot all to ourselves for lunch. I had been starving for some beach time and so we hit the beach afterwards. We did end up stopping for a refuel on the way home. We drove 254 miles, stopped and added about 55 miles of charge, and still had 65 miles left when we got home. Third completely different drive, still getting that 260-mile range on one charge. We learned two things worth sharing: We played it a lot more loose this trip, just stopping for some fuel on the way home. It's a charger we would use a lot on drives from the Bay Area, so it was nice to check out this one (different location, different route home). All we did was run an errand and grab a couple of grocery items while we were there. I'd say we spent about 15 minutes in the store and then spent a minute or two discussing if we had enough to get home, deciding yes and unplugging. We ended up charging for 17 miles and gaining about 55 miles. & honestly, we didn't even have to charge 1/2 that long to get home. Felt more like a gas car trip. In the short run, we have infinite free charges and will probably be stopping more, but long term when it's not free, it's just going to be much shorter stops. We had spent so much time in the car, it was nice to stop and take a break. {As a side note, MH wanted me to mention our car had one of the slowest charge times. I had no idea, but that's good to know. Like I said before, every single car model is different. If faster charging is really important, almost any other electric car will be faster}. We did some windy steep hill driving and that is also worth mentioning. When I mentioned the manufacturer recommended maintenance, there was no mention of brakes. This is not an oversight. The car does have traditional brakes, but those are mostly there for sudden stopping and more emergency type braking. Most of the time, you don't use the brakes on the car. The regenerative braking system slows the car down through the engine (more like a low gear on a gas car). This braking regenerates energy and adds more range back to the battery. So... Not only did we get to zip up the hill with ease. But... We did not have to use the brakes at all to come back down. It was *amazing*. {Again, I don't get the sense this is universal for all electric cars. So just another reminder that every car is different}. The next day we went to the family cabin, midway between our home and Tahoe. It's a trip that MH had already done with DL(15). We just enjoyed the peace and quiet. We went on a hike where we didn't see a single other person. I personally would have stopped for a free charge but MH was feeling "meh" about that. I have no idea why. He usually leans toward the cheap side of things, so it was very unlike him. He was kind of saying, "We don't need a charge, and these chargers won't always be free." So wanted to live life without worrying about fuel, for this trip. The chargers are so under-utilized east of our city that they have left all of those free. It's the more utilized ones that they started charging more for around the time we bought the car. So there is a completely free charger at the freeway exit we use to get to the cabin. View from hike near cabin, no other people that day: Total driving 2 days: 400 miles. Total fuel costs 2 days: $5 Thursday was our anniversary and we had a low-key day at home. We ordered in a nice dinner. Because the kids had school, we left Saturday for one more trip/hike, this time with kids. The road to Tahoe was closed. If not, I think we would have gone all the way and tested it out. But our plan was to go visit Camp, which was mostly closed for this season. It's probably about 10 miles away from Tahoe. We got our camp fix, and there is a nice isolated hike. Our timing could not have been more perfect. We saw a couple of people hiking back down as we hiked up, but that was about it. We had the top of the mountain completely to ourselves. I would have stayed longer, but MH seemed to be more in a rush. For the best, because we saw at least 20 people coming back up as we hiked down. It was clearly a popular lunch spot. We had debated packing lunch for the third time that week, but decided "meh" with the longer drive and earlier start. But we didn't start too early and had missed the early morning crowd too. {We hadn't expected it to be crowded because we've never seen too many cars there when we camp during summer. Even though the parking is very limited. Was one reason we left that hike for the weekend. We saw more people than cars, not sure where all these people were coming from}. Of course, the "up the mountain" 100 mile drive wasn't doing much for our electric range. I believe it was estimating we only had 90 miles left on the car once we got to our destination. We weren't worried about it at all knowing that it would use very little of that energy to go back down. The stories are true: We had more range when we got home than we did at the top of the mountain. So... 90 miles downhill generated more energy that it used. It's hard to believe it until you see it for yourself. We did stop for lunch and a free charge. The lunch took longer than the charge. We had two convenient options: a charger right by camp or the charger by the cabin. We drove 190 miles. Stopped for a free charge that added 100 miles to the battery. Still had 200 miles left when we got home. Although we had consistently been getting a 260-mile range in different weather and terrain, this works out to a 290-range on one charge (if you ignore the extra charge and 100 miles). Which means... even though the uphill used a lot of energy, the downhill still put us +30 miles ahead with the roundtrip. Obviously, stopping to charge was completely unnecessary. MH ended up getting an extra free charge. It was the first time he got a survey/free charge offer. I have already redeemed two and got an accidental extra credit, so make that *3* free charges. When showing him how to access the free charge, I noticed my last free charge expires next week (on October 6th?). I asked MH not to plug in the car when we got home. There's enough range for me to drive to work all week and then we can refuel at a free public fast charger next weekend. MH does have some planned day trips with DL(15) during his time off (fall break in another week), but if they go into the mountains where the chargers are always free, I expect that we won't get through all of these extra *free charge* offers. Oh yeah, our fuel costs for our 190 mile drive yesterday: $2.06 Our higher summer electric rates end October 1. For spring and fall, just means even cheaper driving.

This & That

September 19th, 2020 at 04:46 pm

Insanity continues here, too much bad stuff to keep track of.

Good News: GMIL was released from the hospital and has been home for a couple of weeks. Phew! We visited her once in the hospital (through a glass window) and visited her at home through her screen door when we did our test EV run two weekends ago.

I never had time to get to it, we went to the Bay Area four weekends ago to pick up a new (used) professional grade trombone for DL(15). I had put some email alerts up about a year ago and had set aside the cash when we sold our treadmill (and eventually forgot I had that cash still). But as school/band started back up, I increased my efforts and found some good options. It was a nice surprise how little cash I had to come up with (just had to get $500 from the ATM to top off the purchase and to replenish cash emergency fund).

We could probably sell the old cheapie trombone for $300 (what we paid) but we have decided to donate it to DL's art school. That got lost in the mix; MH can drop it off sometime this next week.

Bad news last last week (just some highlights): A fire broke out in our zip code and the fire department was setting up a perimeter the street behind us. It was a really windy day. In the end they put out the fire crazy fast. It was a large fire, for such a short period of time. I expect that is why our cars were completely covered in ash (dark/black ash). There has been a general raining of grey ash for several weeks now, but that day was much worse. The same day, our neighbor's tree fell and missed MM(17)'s car by just inches. My nerves were just completely shot by the end of that day. (Which seems to be mostly my state of being any more. It's either that or completely numb by the bad news overwhelm. I wish I could say it was just a 2020 thing, but I am three years in at this point). If that's not enough excitement for one week, young relative's "it's nothing" diagnosis was changed back to, "It's really bad" and is being sent back for another biopsy. *sigh* That one I had been really struggling with. I am running out of people. So... The relief on that front only lasted a week or two. Now it's back to square one.

{I wouldn't be surprised if this was a COVID thing. It follows the trend of "completely stumping the Doctors". In fact, my employee who has been infinitely ill all year, her nurse brother is now fairly certain she is a COVID long hauler. He is just putting two and two together}.

We did get our gas car sold. Phew!

Usually MM(17) is the super charmed one, but DL(15) got all the luck last weekend. The last couple of years we have had a new season between summer and fall: fire season. When it is smokey and it is difficult to go outside. But I don't remember it ever being so bad as it has been this year. The air is too hazardous to go outside. Anyway, I know DL(15) was really looking forward to his day trip with MH Saturday. He just really wanted to get the heck out of dodge. I was concerned if they should even be in the car or go anywhere so was looking up the air quality Saturday morning. They had decided on the family cabin near Tahoe. Was really they only place within day trip vicinity Saturday that had clear air. ??? Don't ask me! No idea how on earth they pulled that off. Most of the west coast was under a red or purple "hazardous" level.

They went and hung out at the cabin for a few hours, went for a hike (I am so jealous!), and rescued a few priceless items from the cabin. No fires in that vicinity right now but as someone else said, all that it takes is a spark. It's definitely the most at-risk property in the family; it is in a woodsy area.

They drove 150 miles and spent $3.60 on fuel. They skipped the free charge because they hadn't used much fuel by the time they got there. The cabin is about 60 miles away. After that, the extra driving was going to see a movie at the drive-in.

In other randomness, MH seems to be making progress with the state and Unemployment claim. It's like... If you stand on one foot, jump in a circle and howl at the moon... Maybe he can get his unemployment check. 🙄 Is kind of how that is going. It was 1000% approved and he had been getting payments through mid-June? Then it stopped. Though we had followed directions and did everything right, they told us, "Well you never did this." (*This* is the exact opposite of what their website or formal instructions say to do). Which was super weird and wonky and we were skeptical. In the end we literally got a check the next day... For last year. ??? Don't ask me! MH immediately called again because his online account was all messed up and he was freaking out. Not cashing this check because it isn't right. In the end, whoever he talked to assured him it was all fixed and online it shows they have issued us $6,500 in payments (for last 3 months). It's showing on one side but not on the "checks issues" side, it will take a few days to process. I now know that check could be in our pocket like tomorrow (because we got that weird check in one day!), but they seem to be a little more slow and cautious with the whole "releasing 3 months of payments" thing.

I didn't really know what to do with my sidebar since we spent more money than saved this year, with car purchase. (Re: first sidebar "savings" goal). For now, I will just cross my fingers and hold my breath for a few more days. The unemployment catch-up will put us back in the black for the year (added more to savings than we pulled back out, cash car purchase included).

We are both so "not counting our eggs until they hatch" types, not really sure what to do with this. If unemployment starts rolling in again (another $600-$1800 per month, depending on Federal unemployment boost). It just fell off my radar and feels like a big windfall as it enters back into my radar. Mostly, MH's income was funding our IRAs so our #1 financial goal is probably to set aside $12k for 2021 IRAs. There's also college next year, shortly followed by college x2. Hoarding cash continues to be the most prudent, until college decisions become more clear. I think our financial priorities are pretty clear: Retirement, college, mortgage. College might bump up or take the center stage for a while.

Edited to add: Today is apparently a good money day! I get an email scan of all our mail from USPS. I just got a ding on my phone and I was happy to see car insurance refund (gas car that we sold) AND a client check (I only have the one client; just sent out the first 2020 invoice last weekend). And... 7 Unemployment checks (7 envelopes) for 14 weeks probably. Woohoo! Now we just cross our fingers that it actually shows up in our mailbox. This might be a lot to hope for, these days. But this email means it is all supposed to arrive in our mailbox today.

I got sidetracked by the good money news. It all reminds me though that MH would have been back to work the first of this month. (The summer unemployment is just gravy gravy because he usually has summers off). We hadn't thought too much about it. It seems fairly moot because DL(15) has been so moody and needy. As long as schools aren't in session, MH isn't going to have a job. As long as schools aren't in session, he's going to need to be home anyway. (I appreciate this is one thing working out well for us; it seems to be a disaster for most people with kids). I think initially Labor Day passed and neither of us gave it much thought. It was always pretty obvious he wouldn't be back at work this calendar year.

I am just happy to get in a general update. I was going to do a separate financial update, and I guess now I can do that with some more clarity.

Some Car Spending?

September 19th, 2020 at 02:15 pm

I don't remember why or the context, but the topic came up at work: Cleaning off your windshield at a gas station.

I made a mental note. If we no longer go to gas stations... I suppose I should buy a squeegee.

One reason we wanted to replace our gas car was that we were just piling on *all* our miles on the hybrid car. Wanted to spread out our driving a bit and want to be able to keep both cars for decades if that is what we choose to do. Wasn't going to happen at the rate we were driving the hybrid. We put on 32k miles in 2 years, which is a *lot* for us. My plan is to pile up some miles on the newer car. When the pandemic is over, we can spread it out a little more. Even if I still mostly use the hybrid for my commute, I can still take the all-electric to work in the summer/winter months when MH is off of work.

I drove both cars this week so I have some real numbers.

The bigger battery (all-electric) is more efficient and using less energy for my drive.

HYBRID Commute
Cost with summer electricity rate: $1.36
Cost with rest-of-the year electricity rate: $1.10

Cost with summer electricity rate: $1.13
Cost with rest-of-the year electricity rate: $0.92

I suppose it works out nicely that I can probably just drive the all-electric on my commute during summer months (months that MH has off of work).

More Car Savings

September 16th, 2020 at 02:18 pm

I will probably do another post, but I don't wanna. Life continues to be absurd.

Rather just talk about the car, it's nice to have a distraction.

I do think it's worth sharing perception versus reality. I should probably continue to share these things as they happen.

The other day I was wondering if car expenses would fall off our "Top 5" annual expenses. I looked back at 2017/2018 as better comparison years because we only had 2 cars and they were both gas cars.

Holy Cow... This is how the numbers are shaking out:
2017 - $6,299 (fuel/insurance/maintenance/tags)
2018 - $7,025
2020 - $3,000 (estimate for all of 2020)

We are saving roughly **$3,000 per year** switching to all-electric driving.

But... "It's 2020. You haven't driven much?" You say? Well, I *doubled* my commute end of 2018 and I still have my commute (which is the most of our household driving). & it will cost a whole whopping $200 per year to fuel the new car (if even that, am erring on the aggressive side). I expect same/better for 2021 ($3,000 total car expenses for the year).

That's cutting our expenses in half while driving significantly more. 🤯

I honestly have no idea what our #5 household expense will become. I glanced at it and wasn't coming up with anything else big. Utilities and Misc., which are broken out into a lot of smaller sub-categories. Will figure it out at the end of the year.

MH's friend just thinks we are giant idiots. I know is what most are thinking. I suppose I don't care, I am used to it. We are used to making unpopular decisions that just make our life better/easier.

This guy has the same gas car as MH (40mpg freeway). He is just, "NO WAY were you spending $1,000 per year on car gas!" 🤣 Seriously, how hard is it to spend $83/month on gas? With our gas prices? This guy is single and childless. He clearly has no concept of how much MH drives kids around. (Also, all those short trips were knocking the mpg down closer to 25 mpg). FWIW, we drove the gas car 8,000 miles last year. That was probably a less than average year, as we both preferred to drive the hybrid if at all possible. But it was the only car available for MH/kids' commute, and is also the car that MH took to LA. I am sure there were many other times we needed two cars or both had to be somewhere.

In other news, MH/DL did their father/son trip last weekend. After being told several times by friends/relatives with electric cars, that the car basically uses no fuel to drive back down to the valley from Tahoe... I was wondering how much fuel it would take to get up the hill though. In the end, they only went about half way, stopping at the family cabin. MH could have gotten a free charge but he hadn't used up enough electric fuel to bother. Mental note: Don't fully charge the car before that trip. He also wanted to leave room on the battery in case it did generate more charge than it used. In the end, did get some crazy #s coming down the hill but was probably only a 25% - 50% improvement (round trip) over a more average drive. The downhill did use very little fuel. The uphill used a lot of fuel. But the downhill more than made up for the uphill. Once you netted it out though, it wasn't anything terribly exciting. Especially once you factor the cost of electricity and figure you might have saved a quarter. 😁

What is interesting is that the weather was mild and the terrain was entirely different than any other driving we have done. MH drove 150 miles and had 110 miles left when he got home. So... It sounds like 260 miles is the true range. If we have gotten that twice on two entirely different trips. Entirely different terrain, weather, etc. Electric cars are weird like that. The quoted range (manufacturer) is 238 miles. Our long trip average is 260 miles. Our shorter trip average will be far above that (more range). Though the range is more relevant/important on longer trips so I understand erring on the side of driving faster/longer to come up with the range. I am sure we could come up with 238 (the "official" range) if we sped and blasted the heat.

That reminds me, MH had to make a couple of trips to take kids to school. Both times was coming up with -0- miles used. Clearly there is *some* fuel being used on these shorter trips, but too small to register on just a couple of trips. Miles driven: 10 miles total, divided by two trips. (Reminder: braking regenerates energy. It is possible that trip generates as much energy as it is using). It seems moot. At this rate, MH's employer will close up shop and kids won't be back at school until they are both licensed drivers. The electric car is made for those infinite 6-mile roundtrips that MH was making. I just don't know if those trips will still be made. We are obviously happy with freeway and long range performance: silent drives that cost pennies. It just would have been interesting to see what kind of a range we could have gotten with MH's average driving, pre-pandemic.

In other news, we sold the gas car. Another post for another day. The day before we sold it, a neighbor's tree fell and missed MM(17)'s car by inches. Also, we had a fire too close to home and black ash was raining from the sky covering the outside cars (was more significant than the general infinite rain of grey ash we have been experiencing). I feel great relief to have less "stuff" to manage. Would have felt great relief regardless, but it wasn't a good week for the outside cars.

Longer Distance EV Test Run

September 7th, 2020 at 02:18 pm

We did our first longer distance test run.


I suppose one big electric car adjustment is not knowing how much range you are actually going to get. It depends on a few different factors.

Things that helped us along: Some minor stop-and-go traffic along the way, and also some city driving when we drove between relatives' homes.

The thing going most against us: One of the hottest days of the year. A - this directs more energy to cooling off the battery. B - A/C is an energy suck. Best we could tell, blasting the AC was taking 7 miles off of the range. Not a lot, but adds up more on a bigger battery with longer range.

{Holy cow that AC is amazing though. A+}.

The end result:
We could have probably made the entire trip, even with hot conditions and a few stops, without a stop to re-charge.

Literally, we stopped for a free 100-mile charge and the car estimated we had 100 miles left when we got home. How is that for cutting it close? IT sounds extremely feasible to make the roundtrip without any stops. The battery might go 20 miles further in fall and spring (more mild weather). It will be interesting to see on future test runs.

Of course, in a gas car I know you can run it to empty and still drive another 20-30 miles. I don't know what the deal is on an electric car. Probably same, but it's not ideal to run the battery to empty. I don't expect we will ever cut it close.

Considering that we literally always get gas on the way to/from the Bay Area, I can tell this will not be any different (logistics) from driving a gas car. We either fill up gas when we plan for a longer trip, or we fill up on cheaper gas on the way home (most likely). The electric car is going to be the same. We might need to stop for 10 minutes to top off a few extra miles to make sure we can get home. *shrugs*

Considering we often make this kind of trip multiple times a month... We are very pleased with the outcome.

When we bought our hybrid car we were considering that the "around town" car and had no intention whatsoever to make it the "road trip" car. Then we drove it to the Bay Area the first time and the gas mpg was 50. We had no idea that the car could do that! So then that became our "drive everywhere" car. Because of that, I am not surprised at all that the all-electric is easily going to become our "drive everywhere" car. Like the hybrid, the official quoted range is less than it really is.

MH did fill up 100 free miles (free charger test run) middle of the week. The only other driving he had done was to drive 5 miles home from that charger. I plugged the newer car in when I left for work on Friday.

Saturday morning we left with a full charge. This is how the numbers worked out, and I will compare to our other vehicles.

Miles Driven: 261.2
{After paying close attention to our hybrid driving and costs, I would have guessed that 250 miles is pretty average for us when visiting our Bay Are relatives. This was a very average drive}.

Electricity Used: 58.5 kWh
Free Charge: Less: 23.25 kWh
Net Electricity paid for: 35.25 kWh
x.1059 (summer electricity rates @ home)

That is $3.73 in fuel costs to drive 260 miles.


{I guess technically it was cheaper than that because we got two free charges! But that will probably not be typical}.

It's official. The only time I ever get gas in my hybrid car is when we drive out of town. After this trip? I am removing gas fuel from our budget. It will be -$0-. Car gas will no longer have any place in our monthly budget.

Anyway, here are the comparisons:
260 mile trip Fuel Costs
All-Electric: $3.73
Hybrid: $13.90
Gas Car: $19.50

That said... We failed on our trip and spent more money.

We chose the most ideal place to stop. It was 50% or 75% off. (Free charging *all the time* ended last week, but it's still discounted and sometimes free).

We had decided to stop and eat dinner. Not that we would always do that, but it's a test run and it was just MH and I. Plus, we usually eat with our parents. We just aren't going to do that during a pandemic. So you can somewhat put this in the pandemic category.

We were still in the Bay Area and all the restaurants over there ended up being $$$$.

Downside: Spent a lot on food. $25. If there had been a Taco Bell or something, we would have been perfectly happy with that.

Because the charge was deeply discounted, we decided to stop 45-minutes for the max amount of free charge. It was a billion degrees and not much shade.

Upside: Sat and ate in completely comfortable car with A/C. It doesn't idle like a traditional car. I am well aware after 2 years with the hybrid. It is a great pandemic car, if you are sitting around in your car waiting a lot. You can turn on the car and be comfortable, without bothering anyone else or spewing exhaust.

Overall, we were happy with the stop. It was a very large shopping center and I expect in the future we would just get out and go for a walk. Maybe pick up a snack or something. Don't need to eat an entire meal every time we need fuel. & like I mentioned before, a 10-minute re-fuel would have got us home comfortably.

I believe that this charger was going to be 50%-off during the time frame that we arrived. Just as we were about to charge, a survey popped up on my phone. In exchange for answering a few questions I got a free charge. That was unexpected! MH was jealous that he did not get a survey when he charged.

Then there was a glitch and they credited me twice, so it looks like I have another free charge? I don't know. Not holding my breath on that one. But if it's still there next time I drive out of town...

Electric Car Details

September 4th, 2020 at 03:35 am

I did a quicker fuel savings post (my last post). Just a more general summary if you are curious about fuel savings and a more general update. This one will be a little more in-depth.

Every electric car out there right now is very different. I think driving an electric car is a big jump (no matter how open you are to the idea) and we most definitely got there a lot faster with the hybrid car as the gateway to electric. It was literally just a day or a week before it was, “Why didn’t we do this sooner?” I will say that all of my hesitancy was dumb. Really and truly. Change is difficult.

But anyway, I share because there is really nothing similar about our two cars right now, or any of the other electric cars on the market. They all have their pros and cons.

Infrastructure is also going to vary widely where you live. In California we have great battery warranty protection and chargers everywhere. Is worth mentioning because there’s a lot of areas of the country where I probably would not buy an electric car.

Of course, mostly to the point, you have to have somewhere to charge. If your employer or apartment complex provides chargers, that’s great. I wouldn’t recommend an electric car at all to my kids, because who knows what kind of charging options they will have over the next several years. If you own a house and can charge at home, that’s the most ideal. You aren’t going to refuel in the old sense of gas stations. You are going to recharge your car overnight while you sleep. Or maybe while you shop, go to the movies, eat out, or while you are at work.

Probably the best I can do is share what I know (in more depth) about our hybrid and compare with what will change with our electric car.

Volt (“hybrid”) - 50-ish mile electric range. Just about enough for my commute. That car also has a 350-ish mile gas range. 400 miles total on one charge and one full tank of gas.

Bolt (electric) - 240-ish mile electric range

{Edit to add: We are coming up with 260-mile range on longer trips and I expect 300+ with city stop/go driving. Don't have a good handle on how far it will go city driving because have not tested more than 10 miles. I will update again when we are doing more normal driving again, it may be another year}.

Note: We mostly drive the Volt/hybrid for my commute, which is all open freeway. Stop and go traffic generates more electricity/fuel and is more ideal for electric car driving. It’s going to be interesting to see how many miles we get out of the all-electric car with MH’s more city driving. (It could go up to a 400 mile range with the right conditions). I read today someone drove from Tahoe to Sacramento (about 100 miles? downhill) and actually generated more miles than they used. Crazy! The range will depend on how you drive. I feel like I really have no idea with the Bolt yet, we have to get used to it.

My commute is roughly $1 per day, hybrid electric driving. The quick napkin math is that during summer we probably pay $6 to drive the 200 miles on the all-electric car. $5 during the rest of the year (cheaper electric rates).

In either case, charging with a regular outlet isn’t really practical. It is for some (if you can charge at work or only drive a few miles per day), but hasn’t been practical for us. This is the slowest way to charge.

Volt (“hybrid”) - My 50 mile range will fully charge after 4 hours on our Level 2 charger (we installed in our garage). It takes about an hour to add 12 miles. It gets charged overnight, at home.

Bolt (electric) - The 240 mile range will fully charge after 10 hours on our Level 2 charger. (It can also just be charged overnight). It takes about an hour to add 25 miles. I don’t know any of the logistics/details (don't ask me why), but if we use the same chargers, we will be getting twice as much range as we had been with the Volt. More value, when it comes to free charging. A night out downtown might get us 100 free miles on a public Level 2 charger.

{Because I charge the hybrid every night for my commute, we expect we will charge the all-electric car on the weekends}.

The Bolt also has a fast charging option. It takes about an hour to get 200 miles of range with the fast chargers. Fast charging is only available on public chargers.

Apparently not every electric vehicle has fast charging capability. It was a deal breaker for us, so we were careful to get the fast charging capability.

NOTE: I didn't know this, but MH pointed out to me that the charging on our car is slower than most. Just a reminder not to judge all electric vehicles based on one vehicle. They are all so different!

Volt (“hybrid”) - Virtually nothing
My car has a gas generator and an electric engine. It is absolutely nothing like a traditional gas car (under the hood). The maintenance is virtually nothing. It does need oil changes once every two years.

Bolt (electric) - Nothing
I am exaggerating a wee little bit, but really not much.
Literally the maintenance schedule on a Bolt: replace the air filters, replace/check the tires. First maintenance at 150k miles. For reals.
No oil changes. No state smog inspections.

This is kind of a general sum up of what I know going into this electrical vehicle purchase. It is by far not an all-inclusive list of all things electric car, but just some key points.

Electric fuel (our utility company) is roughly 1/3 of the cost of gas fuel (our region). YMMV. (That was pre-pandemic. MH paid $2.50 for gas the other day, so maybe we are currently at 1/2 price. Either way, I will take it. 😁 )

There's two major mind shifts with an electric car:

1 - Rethinking how you fuel (as mentioned above).

2 - Switching around what affects the "mpg" the most. Stop-and-go city driving is good and will add more miles to the car's range. (Braking generates electricity). Long freeway trips will be less efficient and you will be more subject to higher fuel prices out on the road. So pretty much the opposite of a gas car.

Edited to add:
I was just reminded of one more thing. In the Volt/hybrid, the A/C seems to cost pennies to run but the heat sucks a lot of energy. This is another mindshift. If you just use the heated seats and steering wheel, it's a much more efficient way to stay comfortable in the cold weather months. I honestly thought the heated steering wheel was ridiculous (for our climate) when we bough the hybrid. MH finally set me straight. He told me, "Don't you keep saying that women lose more heat in their hands?" {My life was changed when I learned that all I needed to do was to put on some gloves to feel significantly more comfortable. & I mean like inside}. That is my DOH moment. He's right. Most of the time I don't even bother with the heat on the hybrid. I do primarily use the heated steering wheel to keep warm in the winter months. I expect that the electric car will be similar. I don't mean in a "sacrifice" kind of way. I mean in a "I have never in my life been more comfortable during winter" kind of way. It's different but also more effective. Heated steering wheel and seats should be a deal breaker when buying an electric car. One reason we went with the premium trim is because *all* the seats are heated.

Another Edit:

One thing I didn't mention initially in this post is performance. The electric cars are both very zippy and handle hills like they are nothing. It's worth mentioning because is another reason it feels so "blech" to go back to driving the gas car. I looked it up out of curiosity.

Electric 0-30 mph: 2.5
Electric 0-40 mph: 3.7
Electric 0-60 mph: 6.3

Gas 0-40 mph: 5.4
Gas 0-60 mph: 9.5

Personally, we are both very boring/careful drivers, but it makes it *so much easier* to merge onto busy roads and freeways. For that reason, it feels safer and just makes driving easier.

Fuel Savings

September 4th, 2020 at 02:25 am

If you missed it, we bought an electric car last weekend.

I had to think about it a little bit, but looking at last year numbers should be a good gauge of our gas spending. I was thinking that MM was not 16 yet (for half the year), but we did do most his driving in either his car or with electric fuel (hybrid). & I remembered I track fuel costs per car so it is easy to separate out.

Gas car fuel 2019: $879
Hybrid car gas fuel 2019: $270**
Total gas fuel = $1,149
{All of this will go away}.

Oil changes/smog checks = $125 annual

Total savings = $1,274

That's about what we paid for sales tax on the early car upgrade. I thought we might break even the first couple of years, but it sounds like it may be a lot sooner.

Of course, the electricity cost something.
Drove the gas car 8,000 miles last year. The electric fuel cost for 8,000 miles will be about $200.

We will be replacing some of our fuel spending with free electricity on the road, so I think this is a good rough estimate. Presume all the hybrid gas dollars gets reduced to -$0-. Most of that is longer trips that will be replaced with free on-the-road charging.

Net cost savings = $1,074 annually

We already found that we can get free charging throughout Northern California. It should be fine for our most frequent trips to the Bay Area. But the chargers are even more readily available between here and Tahoe/Nevada.

So we already have two test drives planned out. MH wants to do a Bay Area test run this weekend. This is just a logistics run. It sounds mostly too good to be true. I am sure it is fine, but nothing like a test run. There's a few free chargers on our route. I honestly don't even know if we need a charge on this trip, but don't want to cut it too close on a car we aren't familiar with yet. It's getting familiar with the car range on this particular drive, and using a fast charger for the first time, and figuring out the free stuff.

{In the end, MH already tested out a free charger this week. It was roughly 100 free miles. He coupled it with an errand he was going to do anyway}.

DL(15) is going a little stir crazy and said he wanted to go on a road trip. MH has been wanting to go to Reno to see a movie. It's been a, "It's dumb and I probably won't do it" thing to this point. But if it would lift DL's spirits at all, that's an entirely different animal. So if all goes well on first test run, they may go to Reno the following weekend.

Edited to add: The most significant free fast charging we found expired today. Bummer! It's not all bad. Most of the chargers on the Reno route are still free or deeply discounted. This is less so for more heavily used chargers (less free or super cheap options in the Bay Area). Reno trip is still a go (free fuel) and Bay Area trip is just getting tweaked. There's so many options, it's just going to take some time to find what works best for us. & will have to just keep an eye out as things change. A lot of more free/fast options are coming down the pipe.

Car Decision

September 2nd, 2020 at 01:50 pm

Three whole days of owning 4 cars, and it was driving us crazy. I am sure the pandemic just makes it worse. We could live very happily with one car right now.

I figured I would adjust and was giving it some time. But MH brought it up last night because it's really driving him crazy. I am glad because we had our light bulb moment. I do think it was prudent to just buy the newer car first and figure it out later. It's all just a lot. But now that newer car decision was made and lived with it for a few days, now we can move on to the next decision. Lightbulb moment: We decided that any college where MM(17) could use a car, they all cost pennies and we can help him buy a much newer car in that scenario. Price probably won't be much of an object and we can skip the more iffy older used cars where we don't really know the history. I am sure some relative or friend or someone will be selling a car, but just feel better about the whole thing if that doesn't happen. & all the more expensive farther away colleges, he obviously won't need a car the first year or two. & even if he could use one, I think it's fair enough that it won't be practical with a very expensive college. As we are desperate to reason our way out of keeping the car, it seems kind of obvious now. We just needed a little time. A whole whopping 3 days of time, but it is what we needed for some clarity on the decision.

We are going to offer the car to my 16yo niece first, and then go from there.

I've mentioned before but our forever car budget is $100/month (per car). What I mean is that I saved up one year to buy my first car for $1,200. Later on we were able to save up for 11 years for a couple of barely used $13,000 cars. Those cars were so new that we could drive those cars even longer and buy up from there. Which means we never really spent more dollars on our cars. Or we both have an infinite $100/month "car payment" in our budget, but will probably never increase that. Doing some quick math, the trade-in on this car will squarely keep us in the $100/month car purchase budget. I find that fascinating. I wasn't necessarily expecting that part. I didn't run the math before because I didn't think we were going to trade-in the gas car. It's a 7-year-old car that we have owned for 5 years.