Could A Server Heat Your Home? This Dutch Startup Wants To Make it Happen.

Brilliance | Dec. 19, 2017

Everyone who has ever used a computer knows that they can get hot. Servers—computers specifically designed to store data and run the invisible processes a network needs—are no exception. For decades, scientists and engineers (not to mention office managers) have been developing ways to dissipate excess server heat. Nerdalize, a Dutch technology startup, has a unique solution: use that heat to warm your home.

The Hottest Technology Out There

These days, a lot of our data is stored on that nebulous thing called "the cloud." In reality, the cloud is just a bunch of servers in a data center somewhere. Servers do a lot more than store data, and they've become an essential part of our digital world. As storing data on the cloud surpassed the popularity of physical storage devices, such as hard drives, the need for these centers has increased. That has resulted in a spike in energy use, not only for server technology, but on expensive cooling systems needed to maintain proper temperatures. Altogether, this accounted for 1.5 percent of the world's electrical consumption as of 2010, and now produces more C02 than the airline industry.

Excess heat from computer servers can lead to equipment issues and data loss, but the biggest problem of all is the impact this waste of energy has on the environment. Unfortunately, the more reliant people have become on computers, the more these issues have grown.

If Nerdalize Gets its Way, Everyone Wins!

The Nerdalize plan aims to ease that environmental impact with economic incentives for both consumers and businesses. It goes like this: Nerdalize will install a server in a private home, sell the server space to companies at significantly lower rates than other cloud providers. The energy waste from processing all of the business's data will heat the home for free. In 2015, the company conducted a yearlong experiment in five homes, using a single server to power a wall heater. Although the systems were not particularly strong—they could only provide heat for small room in each household, after taking about an hour to heat up—they proved the concept could work. Now Nerdalize is working on a new project that more fully integrates the heat within the home: a combination radiator and server, or "eServer," that could conveniently fit on a wall.

With the growing threat of climate change, along with rising energy costs in communities around the globe, out-of-the-box solutions like Nerdalize's eServer are a brilliant way to save the planet.

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