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Xbox One, responding to criticism, to offer energy-saving options at initial setup

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Microsoft has responded to criticisms of the Xbox One's power-consuming "Instant On" mode by highlighting energy-saving options for users to fully power down the console, and promising to offer an "energy-saving" mode as an option when new users in the U.S. first set up theirs.

The moves come in response to the Natural Resources Defense Council, which in 2014 ripped the power consumption of both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. Both have resting states that allow for features like background downloads of system updates and applications. It's also how the Xbox One is listening for users to say "Xbox on" to power up the console.

The NRDC said the two consoles use two to three times as much power as their predecessors, and singled out the Xbox One as particularly wasteful. In a followup last month, the NRDC said that the Xbox One accounts for an extra $250 million in energy bill spending in the United States.

Deactivating Instant-On would save customers $6 to $15 per year on average, says Microsoft

Microsoft, in a blog post this week, says updates to the operating system have helped reduce the power consumption of Instant-On mode by one-third since the console's launch. Moreover, the choice of Instant-On or "Energy Saving" modes will be offered at initial setup in the U.S. "in the coming months," the way it has been in Europe. To comply with European laws, Instant-On was a mode customers had to choose to activate when they first set up the console; in the U.S., Instant-On has been enabled by default.

For its part, Microsoft says Instant-On delivers the convenience of automatically updating the console's operating system or downloading purchased games and apps while the user is away from it, so that they're ready the next time they use the Xbox One.

"When factoring the monthly system updates, new features in apps and games and automatic mobile purchase downloads, the Instant-on setting easily saves users countless hours of needlessly waiting," Microsoft wrote. Microsoft says deactivating Instant-On and switching to the energy-saving mode would "save customers an average of $6 to $15 in energy costs per year."

For those who already have the console and wish to enable Energy-Saving mode, go to the Xbox One's home screen, press the menu button, select Settings, and then Power and Startup. The Energy-Saving mode option is there.