Heating Homes With Computer Servers

A company in the Netherlands called Nerdalize is using the heat generated by computers to heat homes. Typically, computer server systems are placed in large buildings which must then be kept cool to keep the computers from overheating, which occurs when you have many computers placed in close proximity to each other. What this company does is instead place these server computers in individual homes; the heat from which can then be used to heat the homes. This is more efficient from an energy point of view since you don’t require additional energy to keep the computers cool, using cooling systems. You just use the heat generated by the computers to heat the homes, which is especially useful in the winter. In the summer the Nerdalize computers are designed to expel their heat to the outdoors since homeowners do not require heating in the summer.

So rather than businesses housing a large number of computers in a large building, and paying the expenses related to that, they are placed in numerous homes, which avoids certain costs, such as cooling and building costs.

Businesses requiring large computing resources can buy these computing resources from Nerdalize, and Nerdalize shares part of this money with the homeowners housing the computers, under a leasing agreement.

Nerdalize says that computing resources purchased through them can be up to 30-55% cheaper than what competitors offer using the typical system of housing computers in large buildings.

Nerdalize pays for the electricity to run the computer servers, and the homeowner gets heat (for free) and in addition gets money from Nerdalize.

Distributed computing systems in homes creates an opportunity for their energy to come from distributed solar (such as rooftop solar panel installations). Contrast this to a single building housing hundreds or even thousands of computers. There is no way the power consumption by such a large number of computers can be met with solar panels placed on the building. But a single home containing solar panels can produce enough electricity from these panels to power a few computers.

Also, there’s an added security element as well. A single building housing many computers is more vulnerable than having those computers housed in many different locations in people’s homes.

The applicable standard from the NGSS is:

HS-ETS1-3 (high school). Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.

Discuss this method of heating homes, and the associated energy-use efficiency, with respect to the standard.


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