As the temperature drops and utility bills begin to soar, researchers at Microsoft have come up with a new heat source to warm homes and offices up – data servers. These machines produce an incredible amount of heat – and it requires extra energy to cool them down – so why not use all of that warmth to keep people nice and toasty in the colder months? That’s exactly what Microsoft Research is suggesting in their new study, which proposes transferring that excess heat to buildings and homes.
It’s no secret that data servers and server farms are expensive to cool down – Facebook even went to far as to locate their giant data farm near the Arctic Circle in Sweden to help combat cooling costs. But in the right climate, that heat can be harnessed and used, warming the companies that run them. Microsoft Research suggests first placing these server centers in the basements of office and apartment buildings, next to the traditional furnaces. Those heat-producing server cabinets can then be hooked up to the building’s ventilation system, just like a furnace. By tapping into the circulation fan and ductwork of the building’s furnace, the heat from the servers could then be blown around the entire building.
Once that system is established, the paper suggests having private homes play host to server farms. Homeowners’ electricity costs would be cut significantly, and companies would also save by not having to build separate facilities to host the server farms. Around 110 motherboards could keep a home warm in cold weather. In the summer months, the hot air would be directed outside like a dryer.
Security for the company would obviously be taken care of – with the servers being controlled via remote, as well as tampering sensors and other precautions to ensure privacy. Should data furnaces become a household name, the benefits would be great, giving low-cost heating to families, while also offsetting the excess heat that would normally just be released and unused.
Via NY Times