Life with a used Nissan Leaf: Winter update

used nissan leaf photo
CC BY 2.0 Sami Grover

As documented in my previous posts, I've bought a used Nissan Leaf and am—mostly—loving how it's working out. Concerns about cold weather impacting range have mostly turned out to be overblown. Yes, we have had an unseasonably warm Fall here in NC, but even on the coldest days, I've seen a drop in estimated range of about 10 miles based on the temperature of the battery.

Add extensive use of the heater into the mix (something my wife uses more than I do), and it might be a further 10 to 15 miles of range shaved off the "guessometer".

That said, the basic green strategy of heating the person not the space is validated once again by a Leaf in winter, as the seat warmer and the heated steering wheel usually leave me feeling toasty even without the need for the overall space heater. (Mine is a Leaf S—which means it has the less efficient resistance heating option.)

Other takeaways from the last few months: For a second car it's pretty much ideal in our circumstances. We drive it all the time, and my wife uses is as her first option whenever I am not out and about, as long as her drive is less than 30 miles or so. (She's less sanguine about the range issue than I am.) We've also learned that it attracts a lot of attention, and I've had more than one friend mention that they're seriously considering going electric for the next car. I've also found that the car's dashboard display—complete with feedback on regenerative braking, energy use etc—has further shaped my already miserly driving style to eke out the most mileage from the least kilowatt hours.

Speaking of kilowatt hours, the question of energy usage and how much this will impact my bills remains a mystery. That's partially because we are on a fixed monthly rate energy bill, and partially because when I analyze my energy usage compared to last year, we're considerably higher overall even predating my Leaf purchase—and particularly over the summer months. I have yet to work out if that's due to changes in our daily schedule, whether my savings with a Nest in winter have not translated to savings in the summer, or if something else is going on.

The best indicator I can offer at the moment is that, once cooling season was over, my November bill energy usage was up from 722kwh in 2014 to 1090kwh, and my December bill usage rose from 730kwh to 878kwh. In other words, it's definitely had an impact but I'm going to need to isolate some other factors before I can figure out how much. Given that the EPA estimates 30kWhs per 100 miles, and given that we only drive locally and usually less than 20 miles a day, it seems likely that there's something else going on that's pushed up our consumption. (Yes Lloyd, we do still walk and bike whenever we can!)

I'll be updating more as I learn more. I might be calling Nest to see if there's something going on with my AC. And I'll be doing my best to make sure everyone turns the lights off.

As always, post with any questions, comments or concerns—I'll do my best to answer them in future posts.

Life with a used Nissan Leaf: Winter update
Range anxiety fades away. Energy usage remains a question.

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