Microsoft is planning to switch Xbox Series X and S owners over to an energy-saving power mode in a bid for sustainability and cost savings. The Shutdown (energy saving) power option was made default on Xbox consoles shipped since last March, but millions of Xbox One and Xbox Series X / S consoles still use the more convenient Sleep (Instant On) option.
Microsoft is now planning to issue a one-time update that will switch Xbox Series X / S consoles over to Shutdown (energy saving), with the option to switch back to Sleep (Instant On). There’s also a new active hours setting on the way that will offer the convenience of instant on and some of the energy savings (more on that later).
The difference between both Xbox power options is significant when it comes to energy usage. The Sleep option lets you instantly boot an Xbox Series X / S console, but it uses around 10–15 watts while in standby. If you pick the Shutdown power option, it takes around 15 seconds to boot up a console, but it only uses 0.5 watts while it’s turned off.
The Verge previously highlighted this gap in Xbox energy usage in September, advising readers to switch due to rising energy costs in the UK and across Europe. Now, Microsoft is taking action to push Xbox users into using less energy. Xbox Insiders will get an update today that will switch Xbox Series X / S consoles over to the Shutdown option, and this same update will roll out more broadly soon.
“This one-time update to your power settings will reduce your power consumption while your console is off, and will not affect performance, gameplay, or your console’s ability to receive overnight updates to system, games or apps,” explains Blaine Hauglie, technical program manager at Xbox, in a blog post. “Remote features are supported while the console is powered-on; however, remote wake is not supported while the console is shut down.”
Xbox One users will also start to see new power mode options soon, including the Shutdown (energy saving) for some users today. “Shutdown (energy saving) will allow Xbox One consoles to receive system, game or app downloads overnight, just like Xbox Series X / S,” writes Hauglie. “With Shutdown (energy saving) selected, Xbox One consoles will experience a slower boot time. Remote features are still supported while the console is powered on.”
If you prefer the instant boot that the Sleep mode offers, Microsoft has a new solution on the way that will provide a balance of energy savings and convenience. A new active hours setting will be available for Xbox Insiders today. This will let you adjust your console’s active hours so that an Xbox will boot quickly and be available for remote wake during the selected hours, but outside of those hours, it will fully shut down and only draw 0.5 watts instead of between 10 and 15 watts. “Xbox Series X / S active hours will be automatically enabled and scheduled based on times when the console was previously used,” says Hauglie.
Xbox One users will also be able to configure active hours, which will default to always active unless they’re changed. Active hours seems like a good balance between having to choose between the two modes, but if you don’t mind the 15-second boot, then Shutdown (energy saving) is the best way to go.
Microsoft says that “Xbox is now the first carbon aware console” thanks to these updates, allowing Xbox consoles to wake up at a time when it can use renewable energy from a local energy grid. Windows 11 also offers a similar carbon aware feature, and both will save you money and create fewer CO2 emissions.