Tips for Owning an Electric Car

August 02, 2013

Steve Webster of Underhill, Vermont, is the proud owner of an all-electric Nissan LEAF. Not only is his LEAF quiet and comfortable, it also releases zero emissions into the atmosphere when charged using the solar electric system Steve has installed on his barn. Below are some of Steve’s helpful tips for electric vehicle (EV) owners in Vermont.

Maximizing Driving Range (These tips work with fossil-fuel guzzling, air-polluting cars as well!)

  • Drive conservatively by using eco-mode (if your car has it), accelerating slowly, braking slowly, letting off on the accelerator as you crest a hill, and anticipating stoplights and slowing down so that you maintain a speed of at least 20 mph through the light rather than coming to a stop
  • Reduce energy lost to wind resistance (aerodynamic drag) by slowing down a bit on interstate highways or using alternate routes with lower speed limits
  • When possible, choose routes that have fewer hills, especially steep ones
  • Don’t race up hills
  • On cold days, use the heated seats and steering wheel instead of the cabin heater
  • On warm days, partially open a window (or two) at low speeds, or at higher speeds try using the vent fan with the windows closed without turning on the A/C
  • Run the A/C, heater, or defroster in short spurts, as needed—don’t leave them on continuously
  • Drape a light-weight blanket over your lap when it’s cold—it’s amazing how much warmer you’ll feel!
  • Prior to leaving on cold (or especially hot) mornings program your car to warm up (or cool down) while still plugged in rather than consume battery energy to warm up a cold car (or cool down a hot one)
  • Make sure your tires are inflated to the correct pressure
  • Don’t carry around extra weight that you don’t need


Preserving Your Battery

  • In general, when charging the battery overnight, set the charger to stop at 80% in order to extend the life of the battery
  • On especially cold or hot days when you’ll need to use the heater, defroster, or A/C, consider charging to 100%
  • As much as possible, only charge to 100% when you know you’ll need the extra range
  • On days colder than -4°F keep the charger plugged in during the day if possible so the charger can keep the battery relatively warm


More Resources

  • Smartphone users can download mobile apps such as Chargepoint and Plugshare to locate and check availability of nearby charging stations when on the road
  • For more info about Steve’s solar systems and car, visit