Xbox test feature shuts down your console during scheduled hours to save energy

The test update can even schedule downloads to use more renewable electricity.

Aaron Souppouris/Engadget

The sleep mode on modern consoles lets them wake up quickly, but it also consumes a significant amount of energy as the system never really shuts off. Microsoft thinks it can offer a compromise, however. It's releasing an Insider test that gives Xbox Series X, Series S and One owners an "active hours" sleep option. Choose that and your console will shut down at times when you aren't likely to use it, cutting your energy use. You can manually schedule the hours if you know when you play, but an automatic option is available if you want the console to adapt to your habits.

The feature will be automatically enabled and scheduled on Xbox Series X/S systems. The Xbox One will default to always active, and you'll have to configure the hours yourself.

The company is also introducing a "shutdown (energy saving)" option that reportedly uses up to 20 times less power than sleep while still allowing overnight updates to your Xbox and its games. If you don't mind the longer startup times and the absence of remote wake, you can reduce your energy footprint and potentially shrink your bills. The update will be automatic for Xbox Series X/S users in the Insider program, and it should be available as early as today for One models.

The Xbox is also borrowing "carbon aware" downloads from Windows 11. If carbon intensity data is available in your region, the machine will schedule OS and game updates for those times when it's most likely to rely on local renewable energy, rather than simply grabbing files in the early morning. Insiders will have this perk right away if the Xbox Series X/S is configured for automatic updates, while the One will have multiple test options to help with feedback.

It's unclear how much energy these features might save in the real world. Microsoft estimates that two Xbox consoles using the eco-friendly shutdown feature will save carbon equivalent to that a tree removes in a decade, but that also assumes your device is powered down for 20 hours per day. Carbon aware downloads only matter if renewables have a significant presence in your area, we'd add. Combined with Apple's Clean Energy Charging, though, it's evident tech brands now see software as a way to advance their environmental goals.