Reduced energy consumption and carbon emissions with Windows 11 22H2

Windows 11 22H2 was released by Microsoft to everyone in late September 2022. This is by far the most secure and user-friendly version of Windows to this date, and it also include new features that will reduce carbon emissions and energy consumption. Windows 11 now also contain several references to create awareness of carbon emissions, especially in the settings area.

Although we are talking about small changes it is important to keep in mind that the impact if you multiply it with a three-figure number of millions of computers, they add up to significant reductions in energy. In times when energy is becoming more expensive in some parts of the world, all changes that help us reduce energy consumption is more than welcome.

Let us look at what Microsoft do to help you reduce your climate impact just by upgrading to Windows 11 22H2.

Windows Update will update your computer when renewable energy is used

Windows 11 22H2 can choose when updates are installed via Windows Update, and this can be scheduled to take place when it would result in lower carbon emissions1. This is achieved by monitoring the geographic location (roughly based on country in combination with electricity zone) of the computer and combining this with third party sources of how green the electricity is in each zone.

If this feature is available to you, you will see in Windows Update settings area the note as per below.

If you see the note as in the image above, then your Windows 11 device is adhering to and using smart ways to install updates that will reduce carbon emissions.

Display and sleep changes

Typically, the most energy consuming component in a computer setup is the display. In Windows 11 22H2 this is handled in two ways to reduce carbon emissions. Both relates to power settings.

1. The first being the adjusted power settings

The display will turn off after 5 or 10 minutes already, or according to Microsoft documentation even in as little as three minutes2. The computers will also go to sleep mode in the same amount of time which also reduces energy and carbon emissions.

These new adjusted power settings apply for new installations of Windows 11 22H”. If you upgrade from Windows 10 or the first Windows 11 version, the settings you had will remain intact.

2. Recommendations for screen brightness

When the computer is on, and if you set the screen brightness to the highest possible, in the settings area you will see a warning that this setting will lead to more potential carbon emissions. Of course, this depends on if you have electricity coming from fossil fuels or renewable sources.

Microsoft are building awareness on carbon emissions into Windows.

How to upgrade to the latest Windows 11?

Windows 11 22H2 can easily be upgraded to if you are already using Windows 11 – and with slightly more effort if you are using Windows 10 for personal use at home or professional use in an organization. The first thing to do check is in Windows Update and do a search for updates. This will tell you if it is possible to upgrade or why not.

If you are in an organization upgrading to Windows 11 22H2 is easy if you are using Intune and/or Windows Update for Business or WSUS3. If you are using traditional solutions such as Configuration Manager or other third-party deployment tools, you can also deploy Windows 11 22H2 the same way you’ve been doing it for years.

Summary

It’s great to see that Microsoft are designing Windows and building features into Windows that is great for the climate. It is also great to see that Microsoft creates awareness around the climate questions and carbon emissions by adding this to various parts of Windows. I expect this to be just the start and look forward how this work will evolve in future updates of Windows 11. 

References:
1 Announcing Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22567 | Windows Insider Blog
2 Power efficient settings in Windows 11 (microsoft.com)
3 What’s new for IT pros in Windows 11, version 22H2 | Windows IT Pro Blog (microsoft.com)

A modern workplace architect and advisor who has been a Microsoft MVP for 14 years, now combining all my passions from work and personal hobbies and believes; The IT workplace, traveling and climate smart options and actions. On a mission to spread the knowledge and help make more climate smart choices when it comes to IT!