Windows 11 could get a smart feature to help you save money on energy bills

Windows 11 could be getting a new change to give you an idea of how much power your desktop PC chugs through on a daily basis – and per app power usage data, too.

Or at least this is a new feature spotted in the latest preview build of Windows 11 (from the Dev channel), albeit the functionality is hidden away.

The ever-present Windows testing detective on Twitter, PhantomOfEarth, uncovered the feature using ViVeTool. (That’s a Windows configuration utility that can be used to poke around under the hood and enable features lurking in the background, still yet to be enabled by Microsoft).

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As you might imagine, these features are hidden for good reason – they are still wonky and incomplete, and that’s very much the case with what we see here.

But the broad gist of it is that in build 23506, Microsoft is turning the Battery Usage panel into Energy (& Battery) Usage, meaning that it’ll be relevant not just for the best laptops out there and battery levels, but to show power usage for desktop PCs.

As PhantomOfEarth explains, the panel will show energy usage data for the Windows 11 PC, and break that down to individual apps, too – so if there’s an energy hog piece of software on your system, it’ll be clearly visible.

People running desktop computers will be able to see energy usage, but those with laptops can choose to switch between energy usage and battery level (so don’t worry, the latter isn’t being ditched).

Microsoft will also provide overall energy use and emissions data, but as the leaker observes, this is not yet finished and appears to display placeholder readings for now.

Analysis: Inbound for the 23H2 update? Perhaps…

It’s no surprise to see the feature isn’t fully working, because as we noted above, this is why the Energy (& Battery) Usage panel hasn’t yet been sent live in Windows 11 – it isn’t ready.

However, it’s something we expect will be added in time, given that it’ll be pretty useful to see a full breakdown of your PC’s power usage and environmental footprint, as it were. (At a time when those concerns are becoming increasingly sensitive, of course).

Being able to view your energy footprint and adjust your PC’s settings to see how you can do better – and save money on energy bills, hopefully, even if only a little – will be a welcome ability. Indeed, we can see this feature being tied into Microsoft’s AI project eventually, so you’ll be able to request: “Copilot, help me save energy on this PC.” Followed by a useful set of changes based on the relevant data collected here (well, hopefully).

At any rate, we wouldn’t be surprised to see this functionality arrive in the Windows 11 23H2 update (when Copilot will theoretically also pitch up, but we remain unconvinced about that rumor).

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Energy news round-up: energy bills set to rise by almost £100, plus more from the last seven days

This week in energy: COVID-19 continues to impact energy customers in the UK in various ways, with warnings of a surprise energy bill at the end of the summer. We've also seen precautionary measures by energy suppliers to support prepaid meter customers; Bristol City Council’s intended sale of Bristol Energy after it ran up a major loss; and more. Here's our round-up of what happened in energy in the last seven days…

Customers could face surprise energy bills of around £94

Research conducted by Energy Helpline has reported that UK energy customers could be faced with a surprise £94 energy bill by the end of the summer. That's due to above-average energy consumption, thanks to the lockdown. 

It seems that Brits have been consuming 30 per cent more energy than normal, while direct debits remain calculated on the basis of pre-lockdown usage. In some cases this could lead to customers being trapped in a debt-spiral. 

The best way of resolving this, of course, is to run an energy comparison and switch energy supplier to take advantage of a cheaper energy deal. However, Energy Helpline is also advising customers to fit energy efficient lightbulbs, take shorter showers and avoid appliances being left on standby. 

Assistance for prepaid meter customers

Money Saving Expert (MSE) has advised this week that some people who are self-isolating may experience difficulty in topping up their prepaid meters, but a number of energy companies have said they will assist if necessary. 

The Government and energy suppliers have agreed to implement a set of emergency measures specifically to assist prepaid meter customers. These measures include the provision of cards loaded with emergency credit, adding discretionary credit to meters and enabling others to top meters on behalf of those using them. Ofgem has also said it expects providers to support prepaid meter customers, including those in vulnerable circumstances. 

Vulnerable customers can also join the Priority Services Register in order to receive various services for free, including advanced notice of planned power cuts, priority support in emergencies and regular meter reading services. 

Coronavirus impacts on smart meter installation

MSE has also reported that energy providers have temporarily suspended the installation of smart meters in homes during the lockdown period. This means that engineers will only attend homes if there is an emergency situation, for example involving a loss of energy supply. 

However, as lockdown restrictions are eased, providers will again allow engineers to attend homes for meter installation. E.on, Npower, Ovo and SSE have all resumed installation, but this is only in England and only on a limited basis. Clearly, they will not install a meter in any household where someone is self-isolating, at higher risk or has experienced symptoms over the last month or so. 

Providers are also letting customers know that an engineer will only attend their home where residents feel comfortable with them doing so. 

Bristol City Council to sell Bristol Energy

BBC News and other media have reported that Bristol City Council will now sell its council-owned company Bristol Energy following losses of more than £30 million. Some councillors have called for an inquiry into the matter, which has also been the subject of considerable discussion on social media. 

The council finally took the decision to sell Bristol Energy following a recommendation from accountant Ernst and Young. Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees said that he was disappointed that it hadn’t worked.

  • Read more: BBC

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