Why it matters: Xbox Insiders may soon notice that their consoles' power settings have changed to the energy-saving shutdown mode. Microsoft's latest Xbox Insider update made the change to encourage users to lower their carbon emissions. The setting doesn't affect performance but will impact remote play and the timing of downloads. Users can reverse the setting if they want.
Microsoft introduced carbon-aware updates to Xbox with this week's Xbox Insider update. The Xbox Series consoles' new energy-saving shutdown mode will reschedule overnight game and OS updates to times when a user's local energy grid is drawing the most renewable energy.
With this setting, when an Insider's internet-connected console is shut down at night, Microsoft will use available online regional carbon intensity data to determine the best time to turn the Xbox on to check for updates. Under standard settings, this occurs at random times between 2:00 am and 6:00 am.
The energy-saving mode won't impact how a console performs while turned on, and users can still tell the Xbox to immediately download updates. However, the setting will disable remote wake, which users can normally use to remotely turn on their console for remote play.
Last-generation Xbox One consoles have also now received the new feature, though they may not switch automatically. Just like the Series consoles, it won't affect how an Xbox One performs while turned on, though it may slow down boot time. Microsoft is still trying to find the best way to inform Xbox One owners of this new option.
Microsoft says that, compared to sleep mode, the energy-saving mode uses 20 times less energy. The company also claims every two consoles that use the energy-saving shutdown mode for a year will save the amount of carbon removed by one tree over a decade. Microsoft admits this statistic can vary depending on each user.
Windows 11 insider preview received a similar setting last March. With it, PCs can schedule updates for times of the day when local energy grids use a higher proportion of renewable energy, based on available data from electricityMap and WattTime.
The new Xbox update also adds an "active hours" setting to Xbox One and Xbox Series consoles. Users who set their consoles to the "sleep" power option can determine the hours of the day during which their system will boot into a mode where remote wake is available, using about 10-15 watts. After that period, the console will completely shut down, only drawing 0.5 watts. Series consoles will initially pick a period based on previous activity, but Xbox One owners must manually configure the setting.