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From air-con to heated seats - what drains an electric car battery most?

By Tom Gibson | May 23, 2023

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Gridserve, which has a nationwide network or charging stations, has compiled a list of the top things we use in a car that drains the battery quickest.

From air-con to heated seats - what drains an electric car battery most?

We regularly hear from motorists who say one one the biggest concerns about switching to electric vehicles (EVs) is range anxiety – and worrying you’ll run out of charge.

Gridserve, which has a nationwide network or charging stations, has compiled a list of the top things we use in a car that drains the battery quickest.

1. Air conditioning - 7.5 miles of range per hour

Everyone needs to use air conditioning, especially when the weather is like it is today. But having this luxury turned on will cost the average EV around 7.5 miles of range per hour.

2. Heater - 5.7 miles of range per hour

And as much as we need the air con when it’s warm, the heater is virtually essential from September to April. Having the heater wipes an estimated 5.7 miles of range per hour when used constantly.

3. Infotainment system - 0.4 miles of range per hour

The infotainment system is next on the list but nowhere near as costly. You’ll of course need this on to listen to music or use a navigation system, and this costs around half a mile per hour.

=4. Heated seat - 0.3 miles of range per hour

If your car has heated seats this may be a better alternative than using the heater when it gets a little chilly. You can use this at a cost of less than half a mile per hour.

=4. Audio system - 0.3 miles of range per hour

The audio system requires its own electricity source, so listening to music or podcasts will be a slight drain on your battery – but worth it!

6. Headlights - 0.2 miles of range per hour

The impact on an EV's battery of running headlights is minimal – a good job given how dangerous it would be without them!

=7. Heated windscreen and mirrors - 0.1 miles of range per hour

Heated screen are a slight drain on an EV battery. Windscreens use much more energy than rear screens but usually have an automatic switch off after a short time to reducedemand. 

It's the same for the mirrors - once up to temperature, the car will know to automatically turn the system off.

=7. Heated steering wheel - 0.1 miles of range per hour

Another luxury on a cold winter morning and at 0.1 miles per hour, combined with a heated seats, that's around 1,000 times less impact by heating the person at the wheel rather than the entire car via heaters – albeit the jury is out on if it has the same impact.

=7. USB charger - 0.1 miles of range per hour

Using a USB charge point for your phone will also have a minimum impact on the battery – so no real concerns here.

Is it true that electric vehicles are less efficient in winter?

Yes – it is. Batteries work less efficiently when temperatures fall to single and minus digits as the batteries themselves rely on a chemical reaction to store and release electricity, but when it's colder the process slows down and therefore restricts performance.

In a worst case scenario you’ll lose around a third of your battery life in cold weather.

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