When Apple released iOS 16.1 on October 24, 2022, it introduced a new feature called Clean Energy Charging. Available only in the US, this fully optional feature attempts to reduce your iPhone’s environmental impact by charging it when the electricity sources are “greener” for your area, as energy sources tend to fluctuate.
When Clean Energy Charging is enabled, your iPhone will forecast future carbon emissions for your local energy network and attempt to adjust charging to times of cleaner energy production. That means that when you plug in your iPhone, it may not get a full charge if your past charging habits indicate that you don’t need to use your iPhone for a while (usually while you sleep). It won’t hurt your iPhone’s battery or keep your iPhone’s charge below a usable level on purpose.
But even when it’s on, Clean Energy Charging doesn’t automatically limit your charging. It works in tandem with Optimized Battery Charging and Location Services to learn your usage and charging habits to make sure you never run out of charge when you need it. For example, it won’t turn on when you’re traveling, and as Apple explains, there are several settings that need to be enabled for the feature to work:
- Battery > Battery status and charging and make sure Charging clean energy is on.
- Privacy and security > Location Services and make sure Location Services is on.
- Privacy and security > Location Services > System Services and make sure System customization is on.
- Privacy and security > Location Services > System Services > important locations and make sure important locations is on.
All of these settings are enabled by default, but if you’ve modified your iPhone’s settings over time, you’ll want to check that they’re all enabled for Clean Energy Charging to work.
Charging with clean energy: how it works
Electricity demand fluctuates throughout a typical day, often requiring an increase in power from on-demand sources such as natural gas plants. Energy sources such as solar and wind produce variable amounts of power depending on the time of day and weather. Hydropower often changes with the seasons.
But this is all predictable once you have the data. Let’s say you plug in your iPhone at 10 p.m. every night before going to bed. Over time, Clean Energy Charging will detect that, based on your past usage history and current charge, it can wait a few hours for the peak gas plants to fail and most of your electricity to come from hydroelectric sources. Then your phone will start charging several hours later and still make sure it’s 100 percent charged when you wake up.
Apple hasn’t disclosed how it gets information about “lower carbon electricity,” but our best guess is that Apple is probably working together to get data from power grid operators showing the mix of energy sources that power the grid (see for example, the California ISO supply trend page), or with an outside source like Watttime that tries to measure when the electricity you use is powered by cleaner sources.
Clean energy charging: how to turn it off
Clean energy charging is enabled by default. To disable it, go to Settings and select BatteryThan Battery status and chargingand switch the Charging clean energy switch.