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Car/Fuel Updates

December 14th, 2019 at 01:41 pm

I was doing some financial chores this morning and was looking at our total expenses for 2019.

One thing that stood out was our decreased car spending. I am long overdue for an update.

We purchased a plug-in hybrid in Fall 2019 when I changed jobs. Was a purchase we were probably going to do anyway, but the math changed substantially when I doubled my commute. I expect most of our "it's cheaper just to keep the old minivan we don't want" was due to how little we drove in the first place. I was scheming for many many years to replace. First, just doing a lateral change, and later wanting to buy an electric car. At the end it was 13-years-old and it was time to move on. But the math just never made any sense, and then suddenly it did make sense.

Which reminds me, we are comparing 8 months of gas minivan versus 12 months of hybrid car. I wasn't even thinking of that at first. Makes the numbers more astounding.

2019: $370 Electric fuel for hybrid
This pretty much covers my commute and small weekend trips. + any small errands in the evenings. Rounds out to $30/month. My commute is 200 miles per week.

The same commute would have cost $2,000 per year in minivan fuel. The savings is no small beans.

{We try to do *any* city driving in this car, because the fuel costs pennies in stop-and-go. This is why we also use this car for most night and weekend driving}.

2019: $270 Gas fuel for hybrid
This would just be Bay Area trips. Presume we did 20 trips, that would be about $13.50 per trip. Also substantial savings here. We can do part of the trip on electric, and the car gets about 45mpg on the gas engine.

2018 (8 months): $900 fuel spent on minivan

So I saved $260. Big whoop? Saved $700 when you adjust for a full year of minivan fuel.

Nope. Actually, we drove the minivan as little as possible. It was *mostly* my commute vehicle, but lord knows I drove our gas sipper whenever I could. The few months MH doesn't work, whenever I had to drive somewhere else during the day or needed to park in a small parking lot, etc.

2018 Gas sipper Fuel: $1,563
2019 Gas sipper Fuel: $ 820

Saved $743 on that car too. So we are back to *substantial* gas savings. Even though I *doubled* my commute. Did I mention that part?

Total fuel savings: $1,443, or $120 per month.

The hard part that is hard to carve out of this is MM(16)'s driving. We did pay for his fuel the first half of 2019 and added $166 fuel to our expenses for third car (plus I am sure he drove our cars a lot while he was still learning). But anyway, he was on his own the second half of 2019 and I am sure that also decreased our fuel costs somewhat.

Conclusion: Teen Driver + electric car = significantly reduced fuel costs.

Oh, and the other thing. MH only does city driving during the week, his commute and taking kids to school. So his car is only getting 25mpg or something horrific right now. UGH! I can no longer call that car the "gas sipper". It seems silly that I ever called it that. It does get 40mpg on the freeway and is why I called it that.

Which leads to the next couple of things.

REPAIRS
We had a lucky year on the car repair front. Very Very lucky. It was or first year as a 3-car family and we probably had a record year for car repairs (almost nothing).

Hybrid car is supposed to be very very low maintenance. Night and day compared to a large gas powered vehicle. It's also a much newer vehicle and will be under warranty for a while.

2019 Repairs: -$0-
BONUS: Oil change only once every 2 years; not due for another 9 months.

MM(16) is driving his car about 200 miles per month. Thought it's a 17-year-old car, low-miles driving keeps the costs down.

2019 Repairs: -$0-
BONUS: Mechanic told us to skip 6-month oil change this year because car was driven so little. (Basically, refused to change the oil when we took it in, because did not need). He may have an oil change this month.

MH car 2019 Repairs: $385
New battery, charge A/C, oil changes, replace windshield wipers, replace brake lights.

I had actually decided to just leave our "forever car repair" budget of $1,500 per year, even though we added a third car. Didn't have any room to increase that in the first place. But just let it go because I figured 2 new cars + one really old car would even out. Most years it's been a little more lopsided where we might have a 5yo car and a 15yo car. Now we have a couple of newer cars (don't expect much in repairs first 10 years) and we have a really old car. This year clearly worked out very well, but I feel like we were also just lucky. There is always something. Even on newer cars, tired need replacing, etc.

& finally, our plan to buy a second hybrid car...

Wish list: Want to buy a second Volt. We are *that* happy with the car. Somewhat of a lateral trade, with MH's vehicle. Actually, 100% lateral trade, if you factor the money we have saved (for 5 years) to eventually replace his car. Would be more short term cash outflow, but big picture/long-term wouldn't be spending more money than we would otherwise. The only thing I can come up with is we pay extra sales tax with more frequent car trading. Which would be very easily offset by fuel savings in this situation. So maybe some of why it feels so *shrugs* financially.

Last we discussed, we are considering a second Volt or an all-electric Bolt. We haven't test drove the Bolt yet, but it seems nearly identical in many respects.

For the short run, the all-electric Bolt is a no brainer. It would more than cover all of MH's city driving and save us a bajillion (more) dollars in fuel. It also has a decent enough range for our frequent trips to Bay Area. My only hesitation is that it would be such a short term purchase. MH has been looking for work (who knows where he may end up commuting to). DL(14) only needs a ride to school for 1.5 years at this point?

We last left it that we should wait one more year. It may make more sense to gift or sell MH's old car to MM(16) if he needs it for college. That is the other big question mark right now. No idea if he will need a car for college or not. (The car he has now is shared with his brother, so it stays here when he goes off to college).

It seems moot. We spent so much of our cash on this first Volt. In this case, we are looking in the $15k range (what we had spent on our last few vehicles). The Bolts seem to be losing value faster and more in our price range. The longer we wait the cheaper this car will be. I also still have hesitation about owning two identical cars. If any problems do crop up then it's problems x2. It's just so against my nature to put all our eggs in one basket so it weirds me out a bit. For these reasons, we may go all-electric. Get a slightly different vehicle, even if it is mostly the same. For MH's commute (a few miles per day, 8 months of the year) it would really cost pennies to run that car. It won't be anywhere near the $30/month I am spending on electric fuel. The all-electric is also even more low maintenance. I really do expect to significantly decrease our fuel costs for the long run.

If MM(16) does end up needing our car and we just give it to him, I suppose this also significantly increases the amount of cash we need to come up with to buy this newer vehicle. It should be a lot more clear next fall and that gives us time to save up the cash.

Fuel Cost Update

December 15th, 2018 at 05:12 pm

Just to round out my last EV update.

I hadn't shared the total fuel costs for the month of November.



Apparently, we spent $60 total to fuel (electric and gas) the Volt/hybrid and $61 to fuel the gas car.

That was $61 to drive the gas car 550 miles.

& $60 to drive the hybrid 1,769 miles.

So, there you go.

I was going to say that we hadn't even bought any gas this month. But I see that we topped off the (Volt) tank at some point after Thanksgiving. The cool thing about that is we won't have to stop for gas on the way to or from the Bay Area, for Christmas. We knew we'd be driving back for Christmas, and so we just filled up the tank all the way. I have been using a 1/10 tank of gas here and there for extra cold mornings and to keep the car heated (electric range is not quite enough always, in the cold). But should still have 400-ish gas miles left and will use about 200 of those miles for Christmas festivities out of town.

Edited to add: The negative $45 was a work reimbursement I received for October work miles. Which reminds me, I received a $10 reimbursement in November, to further reduce my fuel costs for that month.

November Fuel Costs - Electric Car - Charger is Paid For!

December 9th, 2018 at 03:35 pm

Total miles driven last month on new electric/hybrid car: 1,769

A small improvement; was 2,000 miles last month.

Out of town trips:
--MH drove about 100 miles (on gas) to do some political canvassing before the election
--Bay Area for Thanksgiving (200 miles on gas)
--Bay Area for a book signing (100 miles on gas)

Probably a pretty average month for us.

I remembered to track miles on our gas vehicle this past month; we drove about 550 miles. That was pretty typical for how much I was driving the minivan. Same kind of situation where we favored the gas sipper when we had a gas guzzler, but I feel like we are favoring the electric vehicle even more. If we were driving 4 miles round trip to get groceries before, meh. Who cares if you took the van or the car? But, now all the short trips we do on electric if at all possible.

This comes up to an average of about 28,000 miles per year, total household driving. I'd say we were putting 20,000-ish miles per year on our cars, but have added 5,000 miles per year in commute miles. So I think that sounds about right. The 20,000 was "ish". We don't always do so much out of town driving.

For context, this was from my post last month:

We drove the car 2,000 miles total. UGH! I don't have a handle on total household driving because I didn't track miles on the other car. For November 1, I made sure to take a picture of both odometers. We generally average about 20,000 miles per year total. How we divvy it up between the cars just depends. But this was before I doubled my commute. For the long run, I expect to work from home one day per week, to lessen the wear and tear on our cars. October was clearly unusual with *a lot* of out-of-town driving. But there was also an element that we barely drove the other car.

Back to November...

Electricity costs: $34.23

1,302 Electric Miles Driven

418 kWh Used x $0.0819/kWh = $34.23

{418 kWh overnight electricity usage, per electric bill. This is the easiest/best approximation of how much electricity we are using to charge the car}.

Fuel Savings: $207

1,302 Miles/ 20mpg old minivan
=65 gallons of fuel

65 gallons x $3.18 = $207

$207 cost of commute in old minivan
-$34 cost of commute in new electric car
-----
=$173 FUEL SAVINGS

For now, I am focused on tracking the fuel savings to offset the cost of the fast charger we installed in our garage. Once that is paid for, I would like to offset the premium we paid for the car.



I am just going to call it. The charger has paid for itself. Woohoo! We apparently received a $400-ish break on our DMV registration, with the car. I thought it was a mistake and had been waiting for the bill. But for now, will just call it a day and will consider the charger paid for.

Electric Driving Updates

December 1st, 2018 at 02:04 pm

Last Saturday we were able to get some free charging. MH sat at the free charger while waiting for MM(15) at his volunteer shift. It covers one-way on the 21-mile drive.

We also went to the Symphony last weekend. We had planned to get "free charging" in the garage, but went a little early for dinner and there was free parking everywhere. We chose to save $4-ish and take the free parking instead. Our city (downtown area) has free parking night and weekends for the month of December? But I didn't expect it to be so completely abandoned on a Saturday night. Of course, maybe just lord knows where everyone parked, because the restaurant that we went to was jam packed.

In the middle of the month, winter started to arrive, and did a number on the car battery. I had been forewarned (belong to some online group) but ignored all the "Cold + car battery" stuff, figuring we don't have COLD here. Unfortunately below 50F degrees, you lose a lot of range. I don't know if there is much difference between that and like 0F degrees, because seems plenty of people are happy with their Volts in cold and snowy regions.

In the end, this happened around mid-month and I haven't noticed any changes to our costs, but December will be much colder and I will have a whole month of "cold weather" data to report. Most days I have been able to eke out my commute on the electricity. If I am using gas, it might be 1/10 of a gallon per day. (I think it got a little warmer, because I have not used gas all week).

This will be a morning problem. We have freezes overnight, but during the day it won't drop below 50F, generally. It probably helps to park in the sun and keep the battery on the warmer side. During summer, will do the opposite. I had always been more concerned about our hot summer weather. The heat is supposed to be worse as far as long-term battery degradation. Not much I can do about that, but will definitely be sure to park in the shade during summer.

The garage seems to be keeping the car about 30F degrees warmer than the outside, so maybe that helps with the cold and battery range.

In other news, GM is discontinuing the Volt as of next year. In the online group everyone was saying prices would drop at that point. I don't see why it would make such a big difference, but in the end, I guess this is driving people to not want to keep their cars. I don't *get* it, but whatever. We have talked seriously about buying a second Volt in about a year, before all this. Honestly, I don't expect prices to change much between now and then. But if they do, we will certainly take advantage.

{I think probably they mean more new prices, while I am only looking at used prices}.

It is sad. Americans love their gas guzzlers so much. I haven't seen any other cars quite like this. I was never thrilled with going all-in on electricity. Yes, it's cheap now, but you never know how that might change. I guess for the long run it might be we keep a gas car and an electric car? But I really like this whole "bets of both worlds" thing and haven't seen anything else quite like it.

I guess I should back up and say one reason we are considering buying the second Volt is we are going to run this one into the ground crazy fast, at this rate. Would rather spread over two cars that we can keep for 15 years each. (This car won't last 15 years if we do 90% of our driving on the one car). & MH has a new-ish car, so it would be more of a lateral(ish) trade. We just left it that we need to give it a year before we put all our eggs in one basket. Which is something we would probably never do otherwise, but the car is that amazing. & this also hinges on me getting like a really nice bonus next Christmas. I said it's lateral(ish) because we still would need to cough up some decent cash.

Costs and updates:

**I need to do some homework on the carpool stickers. Still have not had one reason to use them in the two + months we have had the car. I had heard a rumor if I renewed after this year that I could get 4-years of carpool stickers (for solo driver). I can't find anything about that and don't know if that is just a presumption. I don't want to lose out altogether. It would be three years if I apply now. I just have some homework to do. You never know when you might end up in a traffic jam or have a job change, etc., so I just want to maximize carpool benefits. Being prepared, as I like to do.

**The other thing I can't find *anywhere* is what on earth our car registration fees are supposed to be. ??? We paid something like $40 when we bought the car, and when they sent us the title it said "$40 paid" on the registration and/or title. I thought surely that wasn't right and expected to get a bill at some point.

I think it would be a fair assumption that the electric cars get a crazy break on this front, but I just can't find anything verifying this. On the online group I am in, everyone says they are still paying $300 or $400 or whatever to register and renew newer/expensive cars (same model; same state). So, I am confused. Am curious what the renewal will be next year.

**Fuel costs for December:

Electricity is still at about $1 per day, or $30 for the month.

We also drove out of town three times during December, so used a fair amount of gas.

Gas fuel spending was $26. I received a $10 work reimbursement (for driving 20 miles). This puts my net gas costs at $15 for the month, or about the same as last month.

When it got cold, my first thought was that my "reimbursements to self" for quick charger and car premium might take a little longer than I planned. But looking back at October, I think in the end it will be about the same. I saved about $225 in fuel costs?

When I get final electricity costs for November, I will share the details.

December and January are our coldest months, so will see how we fare during those months.

Electric Car Updates

November 4th, 2018 at 04:27 pm

MH went out of town to do some political canvassing, yesterday. He was pleased with his gas mpg:



This is the spreadsheet I have been keeping to track fuel costs. I don't know if this sheet is ideal, but it's one I just found and copied. It worked in a pinch. I can tweak it later.


You can click on it to see the details more clearly.

We drove the car 2,000 miles total. UGH! I don't have a handle on total household driving because I didn't track miles on the other car. For November 1, I made sure to take a picture of both odometers. We generally average about 20,000 miles per year total. How we divvy it up between the cars just depends. But this was before I doubled my commute. For the long run, I expect to work from home one day per week, to lessen the wear and tear on our cars. October was clearly unusual with *a lot* of out-of-town driving. But there was also an element that we barely drove the other car.

{These cars are so under-advertised. We had *no idea* we could get 50mpg on the gas side of the car. We didn't expect this to also be our out-of-town car?
We just lucked out that we found a car with so low miles to start. I really didn't think we'd be piling on the miles this quickly}.

Electricity costs: $31.65

1,516 Miles Driven

386.4 kWh Used x $0.0819/kWh = $31.65

Fuel Savings: $226

1,516 Miles/ 20mpg old minivan
=76 gallons of fuel

76 gallons x $3.40 = $258

$258 cost of commute in old minivan
-$32 cost of commute in new electric car
-----
=$226 FUEL SAVINGS

NOTE: We were not spending that much on gas before because we bought the new electric vehicle at the same time I found a new job and doubled my old commute. But I do think it was somewhat critical to address our vehicle situation with the new commute. I also took a large pay cut, so the fuel savings is important.

Although my commute is HUGE compared to any frame of reference I have (I have never commuted more than 15 minutes?). I think it's a relatively small commute in the grand scheme of things. Isn't that gas savings mind boggling?? I think this is probably pretty average. It's probably pretty average that Americans drive gas guzzlers and would commute at least 20 miles each way.

For now, I am focused on tracking the fuel savings to offset the cost of the fast charger we installed in our garage. Once that is paid for, I would like to offset the premium we paid for the car. To be clear, we did not pay a premium because the car is electric. We paid a premium because it was a huge step up in car. We had saved $15,000 ($100 per month x 13 years) to replace the minivan. We ended up spending $22,000 + tax on this car (less sale of van), or $23,000 total cash out-of-pocket. I'd like to whittle down the extra $8,000 we paid with fuel cost savings. At this rate, we might breakeven in just 3 years. WOW! This wasn't really our intent with the car purchase. We had received a $15,000 completely unexpected cash gift that we decided to use towards buying a newer vehicle. I think it was more to the point that we felt I could buy my "dream car" with the extra money. I did not expect the fuel savings to be quite this substantial. I guess the substantial fuel savings is just icing on the cake!

$745 Cost of Fast Charger/Installation
-226 Fuel Savings October
-----
$519 Net Cost To-Date

It looks like we can get this charger "paid for" by the end of December.

NOTE: I am just ignoring gas fuel costs for simplicity. The Gas Fuel mpg comparison is 20mpg minivan versus 43mpg Volt. (I corrected my sheet after I posted it here). But the 43mpg is more in line with our other (gas) car, which is what we used to use for longer trips. So I don't know that we are seeing any fuel savings on longer trips or gas usage on the hybrid car. Will just track the smaller/electric trips, which is mostly my new commute.

Electric Car Costs Update

October 28th, 2018 at 02:15 pm

I received my home gas bill and it was something like -$20 due to an energy credit. (They owe us $20). Our home is crazy energy efficient, though we have the more expensive private utility for our gas. So our bills average around $30 per month throughout the year. People all the time presume we have like $300/month heating bills in winter, if we have a larger home than they do. ??? I've never had the heart to tell anyone that is our bill for the entire YEAR. This is also one reason we would very seriously consider new construction again. We've been really spoiled by the low utility costs in this house. I'd describe it as more frugal energy efficient. Most of the energy savings was put into wrap and insulation. Not into things like solar (that cost a LOT of money).

Anyway, I saw the gas bill, so thought I'd check on our electricity usage for the month.

This was electricity usage pre-electric car:


This is electricity usage with overnight car charging (for lower electricity rates):


I was trying to figure out why our electricity was spiking so much more in the evenings on older bills, and I finally realized that was A/C. This second picture is more average electricity usage for us during the fall.

We can charge the car between midnight and 6am for cheaper electricity rates. There is a delay on the charger where you just set how many hours later you want to turn it on. Or you can set that up in your car. I think there's a way to set it up so that if the car knows it is at home it will always delay to midnight, or something like that. I suppose that is something we should figure out. But for now, I just usually set it to charge 8 hours later, when I get home around 4pm every day. Or sometimes if MH is going to run MM to gymnastics or something like that, I charge it until 5:00 and then unplug it. Is just enough charge to make a trip like that.

The summer rates are going to be INSANE during the week for 5pm-8pm, so we are just trying to get into that mindset/habit NOW. We have about 6 months to adjust. Mostly we are doing all the laundry on the weekends and making sure to charge the car at midnight.



I was really pleased to see this last summary pop up, when I logged in to electric company website today. It's going to be so easy to calculate the electric car costs.

For simplicity sake, will probably just use that '12am-6am usage' figure.

So, for this month we used 284 kWh so far, from 12am-6am. It looks like we used about 1.50 kWh per day, during those hours, before we bought the car, so gives us some kind of baseline usage. BUT we also sometimes top off a few miles on the car here and there during the day, so will just consider that to be a wash. Keeping it simple.

284 kWh x $0.0819 = $23.26

If this were the bill for the entire month, that is the number I am going to allocate every month to car fuel costs, instead of "house electricity".

Electricity Costs October 1

October 2nd, 2018 at 12:26 pm

Yesterday I drove 66 electric miles. That was around 50 miles with my (new) commute and dropping off MM at school. The rest was city driving; running errands and dropping off MM at gymnastic class.

I could have done all electric regardless, but it was nice to have the fast charge in between. (If I got home from work and plugged in for a couple of hours on the slow charger, I would have barely squeaked by with enough miles for evening errands).

Total electric fuel costs October 1: $1.36
**corrected after original post**

Cost to drive gas guzzling minivan 66 miles: $11.06

Fuel Savings: $9.70
**corrected**

There is no doubt we would have pulled the trigger on replacing the minivan, regardless. Might not have necessarily done it before I started my job and didn't have to go so "new" and expensive. Didn't even have to switch to an electric car. (Our other gas car is twice as fuel efficient as the minivan was). I am guessing this is a lot of why we have talked about the replacing the gas guzzler for so many years but was never quite able to pull the trigger. We just haven't had the financial incentive to. But wow, look at that financial incentive now!

Fast Charger Installed

October 1st, 2018 at 12:13 am

I think the fast charger arrived Tuesday night. We were able to get it installed today.





One nice thing is that it's not hard wired at all. We had to have the 240 volt outlet installed, to plug it into. But the charger itself, we can just plug it in. We can easily just unplug and take the charger with us if we move.

Total cost of charger:

$420 Charger (includes sales tax; 20% off at Costco)
+$325 Electrician/Installation
------
$745 TOTAL

Original estimate was $1,000, so I am more than happy with this. Chargers easily go for $500-$600. We also saved $50-ish because there was already some work done in our garage (by builder) for electric cars. It wasn't actually wired at all, but the hole was already cut in the wall.

I am roughly estimating fuel savings of $1,500 per year. So my hope would be to recoup the cost of the charger in just 6 months, or approximately $750 saved in 6 months.

One thing I'd look to do is buy a nice bracket/hook of some sort (& mount on wall) so the cord isn't draped over boxes on the ground. I was just thinking I didn't like that; when googling saw some pictures of some nice hooks. I will check with MH before I order anything, but might bring our total cost up $10 or $15. We can install a bracket or a hook.

The car was mostly charged already, so will see how long it takes to charge once I bring it home tomorrow. I will probably just plug it in when I get home and see how long it actually takes. After that, I need to get in the habit of setting the delay so that it charges after midnight (much cheaper electricity rates). There's just a button to push on the charger.

I can also set that up (delayed charging) in the car, but then I need to remember to set it back to "immediate charging" if we ever use a public charger. So it seems to make more sense just to get into the habit of setting the delayed charging on the home charger.

I don't see that we would ever use the slow charger again. The only exception was maybe if we could charge at our parents' homes, but they both told us pretty much, "Hell no," because of their high electricity rates. We kept hearing those charging cords get stolen out of cars and are $200-ish to replace, so we will store the slow charger inside our house where it can stay dry and clean.

It's unbelievable that is it October tomorrow! It's been like 100F degrees here. We haven't even turned off the A/C. Ugh.

Anyway, my plan for October is to start tracking (car) fuel costs in earnest.

P.S. We also did a little decluttering today. Our neighbor had told us recently that our garage was "immaculate". Ha! That is a bit of an exaggeration. He just means we can fit our cars in our garage and don't have lots of crap. But anyway, we threw away some trash today and found some stuff to freecycle. A lot of it I am just going to throw in the donation pile. If anyone wants it, great. If not, they can toss it. I've got an old skateboard, an old elmo sprinkler and a couple of water guns. & a scooter. It's all very old and junky.

Free Car Charging

September 28th, 2018 at 03:58 am

It was crazy stupid how easy the "free car charge" was in the end. But admittedly, MH downloaded the app and set up the account. I told him just to put his login on my phone, since I was just going to be trying it out (later this week). For the long run, I should probably get my own account. Though maybe the one account is fine with the one car. If only one of us will be charging the phone at any given time.

I think the difficult part of it all is finding good information. We thought for some reason there may be 1 or 2 chargers (per the app?), but in the end there were 6 chargers that were compatible with our car. This was in the cheapie garage we just happened to be parking at last night for the film festival we went to. (We'd park there regardless). We saw some other chargers on the way out but not sure what kind they were.

So we were happy to find that there were plenty of chargers.

Literally all I had to do was wave my phone in front of the charger. That's it. Didn't have to log into the app or do anything. I guess my phone had to be "on".

You wave your phone in front of the charger and it unlocks the charger for you:


So we plugged it in and went on our way:


These were the screen shots I took of the app (you can monitor progress from your phone).

Took this screen shot once we got settled in the theater, about 30 minutes later:


Took this screenshot at the end:


I suppose we are still paying (old) summer rates, so we are paying 13 cents per kWh, at home. 14.50 kWh x $0.13 = $1.89. So the free charge saved us $1.89.

Today was the first day I didn't stop anywhere on the way to/from work. (Not entirely true because I felt so terrible this morning, with the late night and maybe feeling a bit under the weather, I stopped for a soda. & I had no idea where to stop, so I may have driven 0.50-1.0 miles out of the way). But other than that, it was a pretty typical commute day for me. I dropped off MM(15) at school at 7am and then drove 22 miles to work. I suppose I can try again next week. I am not sure why it says 49.2 miles driven today. But this was the most true capture I've gotten of my commute, so will go with this for now.

These were the car stats once I returned home:


My drive to work today was totally free! The fuel part of it, anyway. I'd say we also had enough free charge to drive home last night.

It would be more electricity efficient if I drove in more traffic (because the brakes generate more electricity). This is an open freeway drive (all freeway/reverse commute).

I have about 2 gallons of gas in the gas tank. I don't think I have anything planned the next few days and so we probably don't have to rely at all on gas before we get our fast charger (at home). Will cross my fingers. Will probably just stick with the 2 gallons until we plan to drive out of town. We really plan to never really use gas around town once we have the benefit of the fast charger. Will charge about 5 times as fast. So we will have more time to re-fuel the electricity between drives.

It will be interesting to see how October shakes out. We will have fast charger + cheap winter electricity rates ($0.08 per kWh). Not only are the winter rates much cheaper, but we also get a discount on our overnight electricity usage because we notified our utility company that we are charging an electric car.

New Car Fuel Updates

September 18th, 2018 at 04:29 pm

This week is shaping up to be pretty quiet. I had a few social things I was trying to plan, but everyone is being super flakey. Working folk!

Today my plan is to nap in the morning and then will start hitting chores. I think just one or two days of that (chores) and I will start to feel a lot better. If I can feel like I am starting to move more forward than backwards...

Still figuring out new car and probably will make October 1 more of a starting point for really tracking costs.

Our electric company is in the process of shifting to different rates for peak times. We get to jump ahead to this new schedule with the electric car purchase (and will also get a discount for overnight electricity use). So of course I signed up the day we got the car.

In the end, we looked more carefully at the schedule. Winter prices are mostly going down. We will have to change our habits a little bit though and avoid 5pm - 8pm during the week. Off the top of my head, that maybe went up a cent or two (per Kwh) during winter.

Summer? Ugh. Electric rates more than doubled for 5pm-8pm. MH was just asking me if we were paying that now. Kind of told him, don't know, don't care. Have to power the car. It's just one more week until we can switch that to quick overnight charging? But he's kind of, "It's more than just the car. Laundry? Dishes?" Fair enough. So while he was asking me and I was looking something or other up on electric bill, I just decided to call. In the end, just more good luck on our part. We get to keep old/cheap summer rates through the end of this month. We switch to winter rates AND cheaper overnight rates starting when our bill closes, around October 1st.

Anyway, I put the new electricity schedule up on the fridge. Will have to be more mindful of peak times. I think that is easy enough for us to work around.

In the meantime, everything is just kind of chaos. We already drove new car 520 miles. Since Thursday 8pm. What in the heck!? We did drive 280-ish miles to/from the Bay Area. It was a 60 mile drive from the dealership. Everything else was more than usual. We probably both have mostly been driving new car. I did drive to my new work city and took MM to the animal shelter (both around 21 miles each way).

I'd say this week should be way more calm, but MH has stuff going on every night. Will see how that ends up.

Today I used 3 miles electric range to take MM to school. (It's 5 miles?) MH will be driving one round trip 6 miles, unless he gets off work early (probably) and has to go back to get kids later. He told me his free movie tonight is the movie theater in our neighborhood, so that may be another 6-ish miles. All electric for today.

Tomorrow we might be able to squeeze out all electric. We are going to the movies a little further away, but might be able to start with a full battery if we don't drain it more today.

Thursday is chaos. MH has a bit of a drive for paid medical study. I *just* got an e-mail from SF bff and I guess I never got back to her. Oops! Our plans are Thursday. She was waiting for me to reply. I will probably go visit her and then spend some time with my parents. Lots of driving. (Driving to the Bay Area twice in one week is not unusual at all for us, and where we hope to see some real fuel savings).

After Thursday, I think we might be able to keep it all electric? Through the weekend?

We have 60-ish miles of gas left in the car. I will try to remember to take note of mileage when we fill up. Dealership gave us a full tank of gas, to start.

How did weekend driving go?

Didn't get so much fuel efficiency on the long drive. MH was being such a backseat driver. Gah. It was the first time we had long enough to fully charge between trips. So we started with a full 53 mile electric range. I believe the car said 50 miles, and I wondered if we had been dumb to not see the full charge before we bought it. I kept it in electric mode during all the traffic we hit, and whenever we were on city streets. Not a lot of traffic or lights, but the range just kept going up more and more. I later read that 75 miles is pretty common/easy. I think in the end we ended up getting 57 miles, adding 7 miles for passing through a few bottlenecks on the freeway. (The braking generates more electricity).

I guess the car does easily get 50mpg (on gas) on the open freeway, but we had never particularly seen this advertised. They advertise the combined freeway/city rating of 43mpg. We did go over some hills. That was when MH was driving me nuts with his backseat driving.

I had it on gas mode on the hills (which was maybe a mistake) but it was *amazing*. It gets a little electric boost and that was actually pretty awesome. I usually drive pretty slow on the big hills, not wanting to gun the engine too much.

I think that trip ended up being closer to 42mpg on the fuel side. I think we can survive with that.



This display shows our trip stats. I finally looked up what MPGe was. Wasn't entirely sure. In the end, the way it works is that 33.7 Kwh is considered to be equivalent to one gallon of gas. So it figures the electric mpg and the fuel mpg, and combines it together (combined MPGe is on the left). This is by far *not* the most fuel efficient the car has been, but that's just how it worked out on our big trip. We did try to conserve all the electric charge for the traffic and city driving.

For reference, I believe our winter rates will be around $3 for 33.7 Kwh, or the equivalent of purchasing a gallon of gas. So the MPGe figures can be converted to fuel prices for a rough idea of what we are paying/saving. I am really going to track energy savings closely starting October 1 when it will be easier and more logical to track all of this.

Edited to add: I looked at winter (overnight) rate and it was cheaper than I remembered. $0.0819 per Kwh. That means it (will) cost us $1.12 to drive 53.2 miles, starting October 1 (winter rates). & again, we can improve on that electric mile range if we drive very efficiently and driving conditions are favorable to the electric engine. It will be interesting to see how my commute shakes out (real world MPGe). I am starting to think that we can quickly recoup the cost of installing a charger in our garage. If my "twice as long commute" only costs $1 per day. Maybe just 6 months to recoup the charger install in our garage?

Here is the beauty:

Car Updates

September 16th, 2018 at 01:55 pm

I've personally never had a pristine vehicle. When I bought the minivan (1-year-new/excellent condition) it was hit the day after I bought it (hit and run, while parked). The damage was cosmetic only and so we chose to never repair it. My first car had been hit more times than I remember. Anyway, over time, I just embraced it. It's hard to feel much motivation towards something really pretty and nice (and expensive), when it's out in the world getting beat up anyway. Kind of funny now that I think about it. The van came into my life and went out with a bang. In contrast, MH's cars are never in accidents and have never had so much as a scratch.

To say I am a little nervous, is an under-statement. This vehicle replaces "my" car, even if it's all been very 50/50 since we have had kids.

In the end, when I asked for some pre-buying insurance quotes, insurance agent sent over some quotes with really low deductibles. Not sure why, because we have the largest deductible possible on everything. But in the end, it was so cheap that I decided to just go with it. I don't want to be worrying about spending another $1,000+ on a cosmetic repair if someone slams into my new car tomorrow. Was something like $150/$250 deductibles. I will just go with that for a while and then we can re-evaluate in 6-12 months.

I actually drove our older car to "new employer city" Friday to drop off my employment paperwork. Met "twin" briefly but she was slammed with her job. I had made more plans to have a very long/late lunch with her, and then kill some time before an afternoon meeting. Instead, I drove home in between. Car was making such bad noises that I took the Volt for trip #2. (Didn't really want to drive it in Friday traffic, but it ended up being okay). It's very counter-intuitive because the more city driving you do and the more you brake the more fuel efficiency you get (both gas and electric). I had enough electric charge to get there, but drove gas on the way home. I was dumbfounded that we still seem to be getting 50mpg. We really thought we would buy this car for shorter trips and then use the other one for longer trips. I am now thinking this is the car for any trip.

We have a long trip today! So, will see how that goes. It will be a good test, because we do drive out of town so much to see our family.

Oh, and that 50mpg was with, "No idea what we are doing" driving. After Friday? I had to drive MM(15) to the animal shelter yesterday (volunteer shift). Had enough electricity just to get there. I realized I should hold some electric charge for the few traffic lights between the freeway in our house (return trip). So I did do that. I guess that's the strategy at this point. I am sure we still have much to learn.

We did take out "electric car buff" friend for dinner last night, to pick his brain a bit. We knew he'd want to see it too. One of the most useful tips he told us was to only buy a gallon or two of gas at a time, unless you know you are going out of town. Otherwise the gas can get stale.

Oh, and we can save $250-ish buying a fast charger at Costco. We may do that today (with one of our parent's memberships). We are probably going to be moving quick on that (versus my initial presumption that there would be no rush). The reason is we will get much lower electric rates if we can limit charging between midnight and 6am. Also, the slow charge is supposed to be 12 hours but we are finding it is more like 20 hours (to full charge). It may be we can increase it a bit, but my dad (who has a lot of electrical knowledge) was away and unreachable. We have such a new home (modern wiring) I didn't think it would really matter, but he told me yesterday he would not increase the charging speed without consulting an electrician. It's a question we will ask tomorrow, we have one coming out for a quote. It may just be my dad is being cautious, since everyone is kind of, "It should only take 12 hours". There is a setting we didn't change in the car, for faster charging with a regular outlet, because it had a scary warning.

As to electric car buff, I think he is a lot of the reason we ended up going the "electric car" route. My visceral reaction was more definitely, "No way." But the more he talked about it, the more he swayed us. He initially had a lease for an all electric car that cost pennies. At that time it was his only car, but he had free parking at his job downtown, in turn. Which entirely paid for the lease (which was heavily subsidized with tax credits and so on). Then he also didn't have fuel expenses. He was just kind of, "You have two cars? Do you REALLY need two cars that can drive 300 miles?" Honestly and truly? No. So I think at that point in time there was some realization that an electric car would be very practical for MH's mostly 6-mile round trips, all city driving. If he could have convinced us sooner, honestly we probably could have leased for $100/month (where we live). It took me too long (years) to decide that was kind of "almost too good to be true." But by then, those deals were long gone. Other than that, I'd say we are very range picky, because we do spend so much time driving to see family/friends around 120 miles away. But I do also realize that we never in a million years would need two cars to do that. (& in the rare instance it does happen, it's not like there aren't any other options).

I think one thing I also like is this whole idea of skipping the chore of getting gas. I really try to limit how much time I spend on errands and the such. & that was also another thing that really appealed about going electric (if you can just charge mostly at home; maybe also wherever you happen to be).

Anyway, this is one reason I want to share so much of the process as we dive in. If anyone can get anything at all out of me sharing information they maybe never considered.

In other randomness, MH fount out yesterday he can play movies in the car, like on the main display. He was totally freaking out with excitement. It's actually kind of funny because I told him I just left the car on the entire time I waited for MM at the animal shelter yesterday (2 hours) and MH was completely horrified. Not sure the thought would have occurred to me otherwise, but was thought to TABS and his car-living experience. I will say that will be *so nice* during our hot summers when I can just sit in the car with the A/C. It just hit me that it's not the same as idling a regular car for two hours. Absolutely nothing like that! Best I can tell, I lost one mile of driving charge. Anyway, in the end, I think MH Will follow my lead. You can't watch the movies while the car is out of park, but point is that we sit around a lot waiting for kids. So yeah, I think MH changed his tune already on that front.

We haven't done very well finding free or very low cost places to charge the car. It will take some research. But MH found a free charger right by the animal shelter. WOW! Before I took new job, that was our "big" drive. Is about 21 miles each way, and feels crazy far away. We believe we can get free electricity one way, every trip, if I can just sit and charge at this charger for 2 hours. The vast majority of the time, I just sit in the car and wait for anyway. Is just hard to do that in the middle of summer. Then I end up running errands (for the A/C!) and usually spending more money. So I am guessing this is money saved in multiple ways. We are going to check it out next time.

I don't remember how or why this even came up, but I am probably going to get the windows tinted next week. Maybe saw some car post online or something. It sounds like it will be $150-ish to do the back windows (which is all we can do legally) at a place near my old job with all 5-star reviews. I may just go over there Friday morning and then pick up my paycheck on the way home. (It's payday and is when I expect to get my final check). This car would look so nice with tinted windows, but is also would be very practical in our very hot summers. I think MH thinks I have lost my mind, but he is sensitive to the sun and I think that he will thank me when all is said and done. I just think it would be a really nice and affordable finishing touch.

Oh, and I may have found a $500 rebate for car purchase. I added that to my list of things to do when we get the plates and registration.

I will definitely be tracking and blogging about actual fuel/electricity costs. The bar to beat is set pretty low at this point because we replaced a gas guzzling minivan. The goal is to lower our fuel costs (gas & electricity) with the doubling of my work commute.