EV Home Charging: I Did the Math—and Saved Hundreds of Dollars
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EV Home Charging: I Did the Math—and Saved Hundreds of Dollars

High-voltage outlets, smart chargers, money-saving utility programs: what to know about charging EVs at home

By JOANNA STERN
Thu, Mar 28, 2024 9:06amGrey Clock 4 min

Things I miss about my local gas station:

That’s it. That’s the list. OK, fine, I did enjoy the communal squeegees.

This week marks six months since the grand opening of my home electric-vehicle charging station. Congrats to the whole team! (Me and my electrician.) Located between my garage door and recycling bin, it’s hard to beat for the convenience. And also the price.

If you’ve followed my ad-EV-ntures, you’re aware of my feelings about the hell that is public EV charging , at least before Tesla started sharing its Superchargers with its rivals. Truth is, I rarely go to those public spots. The vast majority of EV owners—83%—regularly charge at home, according to data-analytics company J.D. Power.

I already discovered many EV virtues , but I didn’t quite grasp the cost savings until I tallied up half a year of home-charging data. In that time, I spent roughly $125 on electricity to drive just under 2,500 miles. In my old car, that would have cost me more than twice as much—assuming gas held steady at around $3.25 a gallon . And I was charging through the winter, when electricity doesn’t stretch as far in an EV.

Rebates and programs from my state and utility company sweeten the deal. So I will be able to take advantage of discounted electricity, and offset the cost of my charger. The same may be available to you.

But first, there are technical things to figure out. A 240-volt plug? Kilowatt-hours? Peak and off-peak charging? While other people are in their garages founding world-altering tech companies or hit rock bands, I’m in there finding answers to your home-charging questions.

How to get set up

Sure, you can plug your car into a regular 120-volt wall outlet. (Some cars come with a cable.) And sure, you can also simultaneously watch all of Netflix while it charges. It would take more than two days to fill my Ford Mustang Mach-E’s 290-mile battery via standard plug, known as Level 1 charging.

That’s why you want Level 2, which can charge you up overnight. It requires two components:

• A 240-volt electric outlet. Good news: You might already have one of these higher-powered outlets in your house. Some laundry dryers and other appliances require them. Bad news: It might not be in your garage—assuming you even have a garage. I realise not everybody does.

Since my suburban New Jersey home has an attached garage, the install process wasn’t horrible—or at least that’s what my electrician said. He ran a wire from the breaker panel in the basement to the garage and installed a new box with a NEMA 14-50 outlet. People with older homes or detached garages might face trickier wiring issues—more of a “Finding NEMA” adventure. (I apologise to everyone for that joke.)

My installation cost about $1,000 but the pricing can vary widely.

• A smart charger. Choosing a wall charger for your car is not like choosing one for your phone. These mini computers help you control when to start and stop charging, calculate pricing and more.

“This is not something where you just go to Amazon and sort for lowest to highest price,” said Tom Moloughney, the biggest EV-charging nerd I know. On his website and “State of Charge” YouTube channel , Moloughney has reviewed over 100 home chargers. In addition to technical measurements, he does things like freezing the cords, to see if they can withstand wintry conditions.

“Imagine you are fighting with this frozen garden hose every time you want to charge,” he said.

One of his top picks, the ChargePoint Home Flex , was the same one my dad had bought. So I shelled out about $550 for it.

Just remember, if you want to make use of a charger’s advanced features—remote controls, charging updates, etc.—you’ll also need strong Wi-Fi in your garage.

How to save money

I hear all you money-minded WSJ readers: That’s at least $1,600 after getting the car. How the heck is this saving money? I assumed I’d recoup the charging-equipment investment over time, but then I found ways to get cash back even sooner.

My utility provider, PSE&G, says it will cover up to $1,500 on eligible home-charger installation costs . I just need to submit some paperwork for the rebate. In addition, New Jersey offers a $250 rebate on eligible charger purchases. (Phew! My ChargePoint is on the list.) If all is approved, I’d get back around $1,250. Fingers crossed!

I didn’t know about these programs until I started reporting on this. Nearly half of home-charging EV owners say they, too, are unaware of the programs offered by their electric utility, according to a 2024 study released by J.D. Power . So yes, it’s good to check with your provider. Kelley Blue Book also offers a handy state-by-state breakdown.

How to charge

Now I just plug in, right? Kinda. Even if you have a Level 2 charger, factors affect how many hours a fill-up will take, from the amperage in the wall to the current charge of your battery. Take Lionel Richie’s advice and plan on charging all night long .

It can also save you money to charge during off-peak hours.

Electricity costs are measured in kilowatt-hours. On my basic residential plan, PSE&G charges 18 cents per kWh—just 2 cents above the 2023 national average . My Mustang Mach-E’s 290-mile extended-range battery holds 91 kilowatt-hours.

Translation: A “full tank” costs $16. For most gas-powered cars, that wouldn’t cover half a tank.

And If I’m approved for PSE&G’s residential smart-charging plan, my off-peak charging (10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and weekends) will be discounted by up to 10.5 cents/kWh that I’ll get as a credit the following month. I can set specific charging times in the ChargePoint app.

Electricity prices fluctuate state to state but every expert I spoke to said no matter where in the country you live, home charging should cost less than half what gas would for the same mileage. (See chart above for a cost comparison of electric versus gas.) And as I’ve previously explained , fast charging at public stations will cost much more.

One big question: Am I actually doing anything for the environment if I’m just taxing the grid? Eventually, I’d like to offset the grid dependence—and cost—by powering my fancy little station with solar panels. Then, I’ll just be missing the squeegee.



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This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

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Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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Millennials Are Coming for Your Golf Communities

Living on golf courses has surged in popularity since the pandemic. Many courses have upgraded facilities and broadened amenities. Now the 40-year-olds want in too.

By JESSICA FLINT
Sun, Apr 21, 2024 8 min

Gabrielle Sloan, 30, and her husband, Brandon Sloan, 30, never thought they’d live on a golf course. Gabrielle doesn’t even play golf—yet, at least.

But in January 2020, the Sloans spent $660,000 to buy a three-bedroom, roughly 1,960-square-foot ranch house on approximately 0.25 acres that backs up to the course at Tequesta Country Club, a private golf club in Tequesta, Fla., a village on Palm Beach County’s northern border.

Gabrielle and Brandon Sloan with their son and dog at their house in Tequesta, Fla. PHOTO: JAMES JACKMAN FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

“We loved how family-friendly the neighbourhood is,” says Gabrielle, noting that the club is catering to a younger crowd. “That lifestyle is something we wanted.”

Across the U.S., millennials like the Sloans are moving to where the grass is greener: private golf communities. “Millennials are starting to solidify their lives,” says Cindy Scholz, a real-estate broker with Compass in New York City and the Hamptons, on New York’s Long Island. “And they are strategically using real estate to shape their lifestyles.”

In Texas, about 10 miles west of downtown Austin is Barton Creek, a community where the Barton Creek Country Club is a selling point. “Before the pandemic, millennials were sporadically buying in Barton Creek,” says Stephanie Nick, a Douglas Elliman sales agent. “Now it’s a full-bore, ‘let’s get going on the country club lifestyle’ movement.”

In Barton Creek, Nick says millennial house hunters typically budget about $3 million to $4 million. In 2023, she sold a millennial a four-bedroom, 5,500-square-foot house for $3.5 million. Recently, she showed a $5 million house to a young couple with one child.

Nick believes millennials—born between 1981 and 1996—are tired of paying more for less in the city. In Austin, $3 million might buy a roughly 3,000-square-foot house on a small parcel, she says, whereas that same price in Barton Creek might buy a 5,000-square-foot to 6,000-square-foot house on a half to one acre in a community with easy access to four 18-hole golf courses, tennis, workout facilities, swimming and more.

In Georgia, Mary Catherine Smith, a real estate agent with Corcoran Classic Living, says millennials are moving to Jennings Mill Country Club, less than five miles south of downtown Athens. In March, Smith listed a typical Jennings Mill property—a five bedroom, 4,984 square foot house on 1.07 acres—for $965,000.

One reason Smith thinks young homeowners gravitate to the club is for its social life. “Many Jennings Mills residents have golf carts,” she says. “They’ll trolley around together on the weekend.”

“There are millennials who have never picked up a golf club, and a country club neighbourhood is still the only place they want to be,” says Byron Wood, a real estate agent with Sotheby’s International Realty – Westlake Village Brokerage, about 10 miles from Los Angeles’s city limits.

Millennials moving to private golf communities is a trend that might have seemed unthinkable before the Covid pandemic, when such enclaves seemed destined for the rough due to waning interest in the sport, especially among young people.

Then an unlikely coincidence occurred.

A bucket of balls at the Bermuda Dunes Country Club. PHOTO: OLIVIA ALONSO GOUGH FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Golf play surged during the pandemic and continues to grow: In 2023, more golf rounds were played than any other year on record, according to the National Golf Foundation.

Meanwhile, since the Great Recession, there are private golf clubs that have been transforming themselves into amenity-rich lifestyle hubs, whose resort-style pools, sports facilities, fitness centres, dining and social programming have broad appeal, says Jason Becker, co-founder and CEO of Golf Life Navigators, an online platform that connects golfers to golf clubs and golf communities across the U.S.

At the same time, during the pandemic, millennials started turning 40 years old. Research from Club Benchmarking, a private golf club business intelligence firm, shows that the average age of new private golf club joiners is early 40s, says Michael J. Timmerman, the company’s chief market intelligence officer.

That means at the same time golf and private golf clubs came back into style, the next generation of Muffys and Skips were primed to start their country club years.

Consequently, the NGF has seen a shift toward younger private golf club members on the heels of the pandemic. Since 2019, the number of golfers at private golf clubs has increased by approximately 25%, from just under 1.5 million to 1.9 million, according to the NGF. Adults under the age of 50 comprise 60% of those memberships, with young adults, ages 18 to 34, representing about 30%. The latter can include adult children of members, typically up to a certain age.

There is no one-size-fits-all U.S private golf club community. Some clubs have housing within their gates; other clubs are integrated within regular residential neighbourhoods. Roughly speaking, a top-tier club’s golf initiation fee could be $250,000 or much more, with annual dues in the mid-tens of thousands and up. However, there are also clubs with golf initiation fees and annual dues in the low thousands or less. Typically, there are lower-priced membership options that don’t include golf, such as social or pool- and tennis-only memberships.

In December 2021, Tyson Hawley, 37, and his wife, Maital Hawley, 40, paid $1.15 million for a turnkey four bedroom, 4,272 square foot house on 0.4 acres backing up to the golf course at the Bermuda Dunes Country Club. It’s located in California’s greater Palm Springs area, which has more than 110 golf courses, of which more than half are private.

“I leave my house and I’m on my club’s first tee in two minutes,” Tyson Hawley says. Hawley is a real estate agent with Desert Sotheby’s International Realty. He says within a prestigious desert club’s gates, houses might be in the multi-millions. However, there are lower priced golf community options that work for his millennial buyers, who typically have house budgets of about $800,000 to $1.2 million, he says.

undefined “It is very possible to buy a house at $350 per square foot in a golf community and be super pumped about what you get for your membership,” he says. “There are clubs that understand that millennials are in a season of their lives where they can’t hang with the big dogs paying $250,000 for an initiation fee.”

Golf Life Navigators’s Jason Becker says some private clubs have invested in their amenities, golf course and branding, while others have not and rely upon their historic status. “Millennials are very cautious by nature in terms of their finances and investments,” Becker says. “Industry officials are seeing very in-depth questions coming from millennials pertaining to the club’s financial health and long-term plan to remain healthy.”

Becker says there are, of course, golf communities where there aren’t many younger members, specifically those in the U.S.’s Southeast or Southwest that are geared toward retirees or second-home owners. “There’s just so much demand from the baby boomers,” says Becker, noting that since the pandemic, generally speaking, membership wait lists are now lengthy, fees associated with being a member are up, attrition rates are down and tee time availability is compressed. He added that the cost of being a member at some clubs can be prohibitive for younger people, especially in an era when the average initiation fee at a private club has increased 50% to 70% since 2021. In the Sunbelt, the average age of private golf club searchers is between ages 55 to 57, according to Golf Life Navigators’s data.

That’s not a hard-and-fast rule, though. In the Phoenix area, Lisa Roberts is a real-estate agent with Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty. She is working with a young millennial couple at McCormick Ranch Golf Club, in Scottsdale. They recently went into contract for $1.1 million on a three bedroom, 2,550 square foot house on 0.21 acre. “They plan to upgrade once they have children and a more established income,” Roberts says, “but this house lets them lay a foundation within the club’s gates now.”

Becker says whether younger people will be battling generational stereotypes hinges on the club’s culture, which sets the tone for all members. “It is up to the club’s board and management team to lead the way of established culture, such as playing music on the golf course or wearing a hat in the clubhouse,” Becker says. “For younger, new members, the club’s culture has to be understood or frustration will likely surface.”

Club Benchmarking’s Michael J. Timmerman says, “It really depends on how the club is designed, whether the club wants to focus on programming that will attract different members.” Timmerman adds that clubs catering to younger members and families will develop social programming specifically tailored to that age group.

Around the communities of Monterey and Carmel on California’s Central Coast, there are storied golf courses including the public Pebble Beach Golf Links and the private Monterey Peninsula Country Club. Nic Canning, managing partner at Canning Properties Group with Sotheby’s International Realty – Carmel Brokerage, says retirees and second-home owners typically live around these premiere courses, where he says properties can range from roughly $15 million to $35 million around Pebble Beach, and $3 million to $10 million around MPCC.

However, the area is rich with golf—there are roughly a dozen public courses and a half-dozen private clubs—and Canning has seen an influx of millennials buying in  family-friendly private golf communities such as the Club at Pasadera, Santa Lucia Preserve and Tehama Golf Club, and the semi-private Carmel Valley Ranch. He says since the pandemic, the area has particularly attracted tech workers migrating from Silicon Valley, with San Jose being only about 70 miles north.

At these clubs, Canning has recently sold millennials properties such as a three bedroom, 2,717-square-foot house on approximately 0.23 acres for $3.792 million, and a house with roughly similar specs for $2.7 million. Another house that has three bedrooms and 4,396 square feet on 13.3 acres just sold to a millennial for $4.42 million.

“Millennials are less driven by ocean views and care more about the community, the school district and access to things like restaurants, grocery shopping, trails and beaches,” Canning says.

Similarly, millennials want to equip their private golf-club houses a certain way. Kate O’Hara, CEO and creative director of O’Hara Interiors, which is based in Minneapolis and Austin, says the country club houses her firm works on might include everything from golf-simulator rooms and yoga studios, to outdoor-access showers and expanded mudrooms for equipment storage.

Back in Tequesta, Fla., the Sloans spent about $150,000 to optimise their house to fit their lifestyle, including adding durable furnishings and built-in cabinetry and jazzing up their outdoor entertaining area. They did so with the help of local interior designer Victoria Meadows Murphy, 35, who has a knack for taking the Bob Hope vibes out of country club homes without losing the martini spirit.

Meadows Murphy and her husband, Evan Murphy, 35, are building their own house, a project budgeted at $2.8 million, on a tear-down lot on the Sloans’s same golf course. “It’s exciting seeing the turnover of houses as young people are moving in,” Meadows Murphy says.

MOST POPULAR
11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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