Apple Adds Clean Energy Charging to iOS 16.1
October 28, 2022 at 3:21 p.m.
Apple renewed its commitment to environmental concerns by adding a new iOS 16.1 feature that charges your iPhone when the electricity grid produces less carbon. The technology uses forecast data of your local electricity grid’s carbon emissions, postponing charging until greenhouse gas output is lower.
Unfortunately, the new battery setting might only make a minor impact on climate change. Apple’s documentation points out that, much like Optimized Battery Charging, the Clean Energy Charging feature will only work if your lifestyle and charging habits accommodate it. If you charge your iPhone several times a day and use it frequently, none of these features go into effect. Those who plug their iPhone in overnight are often already charging during low carbon emissions.
Harvard research fellow Seth Hoedl examined the idea of shifting electricity use to off-peak hours to control climate change. Unfortunately, postponing electricity use to a less polluting time has a minor effect:
…the daily variation in the carbon intensity from the least carbon intensive hour, which is about four or five a.m., to the most carbon intensive, which is around four p.m., is only about 10 percent. So, if you moved all of your electricity consumption to four in the morning, you’d only reduce your carbon emissions by 10 percent.
Given Apple’s massive user base of over one billion devices, there will undoubtedly be some impact. However, the marketing and PR value is worth much more to Apple. Nonetheless, it’s a positive move for climate change, encouraging other corporations to follow suit.
Apple has a long history of using engineering to combat climate change. Its most significant achievement, a lineup of super-efficient processors, ensures that your computing experience produces the least amount of carbon possible. Apple’s data centers also use renewable energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
You can turn on Clean Energy Charging by tapping on Settings > Battery > Battery Health & Charging. You’ll see the Battery Health & Charging screen. From here, switch on “Clean Energy Charging” to activate the feature.
If you need your iPhone charged immediately and Clean Energy Charging is activated, simply hold your finger down on the Notification and tap Charge Now. This will effectively override Clean Energy Charging, forcing your iPhone to charge right away.
We at Appledystopia recommend activating this setting unless you’re ridiculously busy. Don’t use the feature if you’re working 80 hours a week or trying to take care of your family and need your iPhone charged when you plug it in.
Clean Energy Charging slightly detracts from your user experience. It’s a rare feature that appeals to human compassion and respect for the planet. The new setting asks you to delay charging until your iPhone can complete it with clean energy. If enough people activate this technology, it could significantly impact climate change. If not, it’s a good way for Apple to improve its optics.