Microsoft is switching your Xbox Series X to energy-saving mode — here's what that means

An image of an Xbox Series X next to an Xbox Series S on a wooden TV stand next to a TV, with a black controller leaning on the Xbox Series X.
(Image credit: Future)

In a move to save its players money and reduce emissions, Microsoft will switch all Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles to energy-saving mode in a one-off update that Xbox Insiders have already received and that will roll out worldwide soon. 

Xbox Series X/S consoles purchased since last March will have the low energy mode — known as Shutdown (energy saving) — already enabled by default. However, millions of older units currently use the more energy-intensive Sleep, previously called Instant On, setting unless changed by their owners manually. To address this, Microsoft will issue a one-time update to all consoles that switches the default setting to the Shutdown (energy saving) option. 

Those not worried about energy bills can of course switch back to the old settings in the power options menu, but many will welcome this change at a time when belts are tightening with the cost of living going up. 

With energy costs rising worldwide, and Microsoft’s own ambitions to become carbon negative by 2030, this is a timely move. It has estimated that for every two consoles that switch to the greener mode, the carbon equivalent of one tree growing for a decade will be saved. 

What is the difference between the two modes? 

While playing games there is no difference between the two power modes, the only variance most gamers are likely to notice (aside from their bills) is an increased start-up time when turning the console on. Instead of sitting on standby and restarting in less than a second, the Shutdown option will almost completely power off the Xbox and as a result, it will require around 15 seconds to boot up. 

In a blog post (opens in new tab), Xbox's technical program manager Blaine Haugie explained: “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.” 

Those using the more economic settings will not be able to remotely turn on their Xbox. But with the Xbox using just 0.5 watts when using Shutdown mode compared to 10-15 watts when in Sleep mode, this is a price worth paying.

What is Active Hours mode? 

Another inclusion in the same update is the “Active Hours” feature. This is a best-of-both-worlds option for those who prefer to leave their consoles on the quick-starting Sleep mode.  

Microsoft explain that this feature, which will be automatically enabled, will notice when the console is commonly used and enable Sleep mode only during these times. The rest of the time, the console will switch to the more efficient Shutdown mode. This means that gamers can enjoy a fast start-up when they want to play and then save money when not using their console. Xbox One users will also be able to access this feature, but will have to set their active periods manually if they wish to use it.

Andy Sansom
Trainee Writer

Andy is Tom’s Guide’s Trainee Writer, which means that he currently writes about pretty much everything we cover. He has previously worked in copywriting and content writing both freelance and for a leading business magazine. His interests include gaming, music and sports- particularly Formula One, football and badminton. Andy’s degree is in Creative Writing and he enjoys writing his own screenplays and submitting them to competitions in an attempt to justify three years of studying.