With the rise of cloud computing, data centers are popping up all over that are filled with heat-emitting servers. These servers are comprised of motherboards, and the motherboards must be cooled to prevent overheating. Technology companies pay energy costs to run the servers, and an additional 50% of the cost of running the servers simply to cool them with fans. Why not eliminate the fans and replace your existing home furnace with a data server, in effect utilizing what is now wasted heat and saving technology companies money?
The concept has arrived, and it is officially known as the “data furnace.” In theory, any home with a broadband internet connection could host a data furnace, which would effectively be a cabinet filled with motherboards connected to the home’s ducting. In the coldest climates, about three cabinets filled with 110 motherboards would heat a home. And when summer comes, the heat could be ducted out of the home like most appliances already are.
According to researchers, it costs about $16,000 dollars a year for technology companies to operate a server, including the cost of running it, cooling it, and the brick-and-mortar costs of housing it. If the same server was placed in someone’s home, it would cost less than $3,600 annually, in effect saving the company $12,400 a year. In other words, these data companies could pay your homes heating bill and still save a ton of money. And since the servers are controlled remotely, it wouldn’t matter that they were not located within a specified data center.
The idea is very new, so give it some time and you just may see data furnaces gain some real traction. It has already gotten a strong response from the computer science world, and some homes are already utilizing them. Sign me up.
Illustration: Nick Iluzada