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Apple just made a major change to how your iPhone charges itself — here's how it's affecting your monthly energy bills

"If you've checked your energy bill in recent months, you'll know that prices are increasing."

Clean Energy Charging, Apple iPhone Charging

Photo Credit: iStock

If you have noticed a change when charging your iPhone after updating to the latest iOS version — it's not your imagination. Apple introduced a new power-saving feature in the U.S. called Clean Energy Charging to iPhones via the iOS 16.1 update.

What is Apple's Clean Energy Charging?

Clean Energy Charging is an Apple feature that measures your local energy grid when your iPhone is plugged into a charger. 

The feature is active at certain times of the day (mainly at night) when it changes the phone's charging speed so that it only pulls electricity during times when there's cleaner energy available from the grid. 

This means that during peak energy-producing hours, your iPhone may not charge as quickly as it previously did, which may save you money if your electric company charges more during these times.

The change is part of the recent Apple iOS 16.1 update, and iPhones now default to this feature if you have the optimized charging setting already on. 

How does Apple's Clean Energy Charging work?

By forecasting the potential carbon pollution produced by your local energy grid, Apple says it can predict the best time to fully charge your phone. 

This helps you reduce your energy consumption and slow the impact of pollution on the environment.

"If you've checked your energy bill in recent months, you'll know that prices are increasing," reports an article in Computerworld. "In some nations, these increases are causing significant pain with households needing to choose between heating and eating."

"Along with soaring costs, nations globally are attempting to shift away from energy production based on coal, gas, or oil to embrace carbon-neutral power production, broadly including wind and solar energy, sometimes supplemented by nuclear power," the article adds.

"We're moving to a time when devices will listen to grid signals every hour of the year and become intelligent enough to shift their load to the cleanest and the cheapest times," Mary Ann Piette, a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, told the Washington Post. "That is the future."

Why did Apple introduce Clean Energy Charging?

Apple says the aim of Clean Energy Charging is to help reduce carbon pollution — a leading cause behind worsening extreme weather events that threaten our planet.

Energy production is the biggest source of planet-overheating carbon pollution and other gases, according to the EPA. Since most energy still comes from burning dirty energy sources, it makes the energy sector responsible for more than 60% of this harmful pollution.

"The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report notes that global emissions continue to rise at unprecedented levels, but climate change is not the only reason to manage energy better," notes Computerworld.

What has public reception been like?

Some people have criticized the feature, saying Apple shouldn't decide when or how much energy an individual uses, while others have praised the company for the sustainable move.    

According to Apple Insider, some users have claimed that when they turned the feature off, they still noticed slower charging speed. But Apple Insider says this is "a deliberate misunderstanding of the feature and how it works."

In the case that you don't wish to use the optimal charging time feature, you can switch it off by opening the battery settings on your iPhone in the Settings app. Then, look for the Battery Health & Charging section. Tap and toggle Clean Energy Charging to "off." But consider keeping it on by default, because it's designed to be a win-win for everyone.

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