Greenpeace awarded Apple as being the "most green" tech company the other week, so it's not surprising two patent applications have been dug up from last May showing they aim to be even more energy-efficient.

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Both patents, discovered by Patently Apple, show devices which save energy when charging from the socket. It's not the usual Apple discovery—hardly a touch-sensitive iPhone—but it'll be an ongoing issue for tech companies to face, so it's not surprising they want in on it early.

While the above figures look a bit confusing, Apple's basically saying:

"Some personal computers sometimes are being left on simply to serve as power supplies for the charging of the aforementioned portable devices via connections, such as Universal Serial Bus ("USB") connections, that provide power in addition to data (rather than charging those devices from the household electric service using their dedicated chargers), even though the power supply of a personal computer is much larger than is needed for such a function, and as such draws much more power than such a function would otherwise demand. As the price of electricity increases, such uses of power can cost users more."

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Using an "Intelligent Power Monitoring" system, you could choose to charge your gadgets during off-peak hours to save money, or charge just a gadget attached to a laptop via USB, not the laptop itself.

The second, slightly-similar idea from Apple is called the "Intelligent Power-enabled Communications Port," which involves a system that routes different amounts of power to various electronics being charged:

"Rather than continually upgrade standards such as the USB or FireWire standards, a variable power supply may be provided for the power conductor of a port."

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As with most patent applications, it's all a bit vague thanks to a lack of detail, photos and motive—for example, it's not known whether Apple would want to incorporate this technology into existing product lines, or launch a stand-alone energy monitoring device. The latter would hardly be in keeping with what they're known for, but it's not like we can ever truly be sure of what Apple's going to do next. [Patently Apple via CNET]