How Much Does the Xbox One’s “Energy Saving” Mode Really Save?

By Chris Hoffman on May 15th, 2016

While setting up your Xbox One, you’ll be asked whether you want to use “Instant On” mode or “Energy Saving” mode. You can also change this option at any time. We’ll show you how to calculate exactly how much Instant On mode costs in your area, so you can make an informed decision.

Instant On vs. Energy Saving Mode

Instant On is how the Xbox One was designed to operate. It’s similar to “sleep” mode on your computer. When you use Instant On mode, the Xbox One never truly turns itself off–it just goes into a low-power state. If you have a Kinect, the Kinect will listen for you to say “Xbox On” so it can turn itself on. Even if you turn it on by pressing a button on your controller, it will resume almost instantly, within about two seconds. If you were playing a game, the game will be suspended in the background and you’ll be able to instantly start playing the game again. If you use the Xbox One’s TV abilities, this will let you quickly start watching TV without waiting for your Xbox One to boot up.

Energy Saving mode disables all these features to save power. It’s similar to turning off your computer when you’re done with it. When you turn off your Xbox One, or it automatically turns itself off because you’re not interacting with it, the Xbox One will completely shut down. If you have a Kinect, you can’t say “Xbox On” to turn the Xbox on–it’s not listening. Turn it on and it will boot up from scratch, which takes about 45 seconds. You’ll have to sit through loading screens if you want to resume a game, loading from a save file instead of immediately jumping in where you were.

In Instant On mode, the Xbox One will also download game updates, operating system updates, and other data in the background. Games will be ready to play when you turn it on. In Energy Saving mode, the Xbox One can’t automatically download anything while it’s powered off. You may have to sit there and wait for operating system updates and game updates to download and install when you want to play a game.

How Much More Electricity Does Instant On Use?

The only downside to using Instant On mode is that it uses more electricity–15 watts of power, to be exact. In Energy saving mode, the Xbox uses only 0.5 watts of power.

But how much does that power cost, anyway? It depends on the electricity rates in your area. Here’s how to calculate it.

Electricity rates are given in cents per Kilowatthour, or kWh. First, we’ll figure out how much electricity 15W is in terms of kWh. This is how much electricity an Xbox One will use in an hour, assuming it’s in Instant On mode.

15W / 1000 = 0.015kWh

Next, we multiply this by the number of hours in a day (24) and the number of days in a year (365). This shows us how many kWh Instant On mode uses over an entire year:

0.015kWh * 24 * 365 = 131.4kWh

Multiply that number by the cost of electricity in your area to find out how much that costs. We’ll use 12.15 cents per kWh here, as that’s the average cost of electricity across the US in February 2016, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Check your electric company’s website or your electricity bill to find the rate in your area.

131.4kWh * 12.15 = 1642.5 cents

Now all we have to do is convert that figure to dollars by moving the decimal point over two places:

1642.5 cents / 100 = $16.425

On average, it will cost $16.425 to keep an Xbox One in Instant On mode for an entire year in the USA. To get an exact number for your area, just take 131.4kWh and multiply it by your electricity rate.

Another quick calculation shows that Energy Saving mode uses 4.38kWh per year, for an average cost of $0.53 per year.

That’s a rough estimate, of course. It assumes you’re leaving your Xbox One powered off for an entire year instead of using it. Your Xbox One will use the same amount of power when it’s powered on and you’re playing games or using media apps, no matter which mode it’s in.

So, Which Should You Use?

The choice is up to you. It costs a bit more money to leave your Xbox One in Instant On mode, but it’s more convenient–it boots up faster, allows you to resume games from where you left off without any loading screens or worries about saving your game, and you won’t have to sit around and wait for your games or console to update when you want to play a game.

If you use your Xbox One frequently, it’s probably a better idea to leave it in Instant On mode. However, if you find you only use it rarely, and it sits around powered off most of the time, you can certainly save a (very) little bit of money by using Energy Saving mode.

How to Change Modes

To change between Instant On and Energy Saving mode, power your Xbox on and press the Xbox button in the middle of your controller to go to the dashboard. Tap left on the left joystick or directional pad to open the menu bar at the left side of the screen, scroll down to the gear icon, and select “All settings.”

Head to Power & startup > Power mode & startup.

Select the “Power mode” box and choose either “Instant-on” or “Energy-saving.”


Your Xbox One will automatically use whichever mode you choose when it powers itself down automatically or when you tell it to shut down.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 05/15/16
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