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Warmer homes through computer power

computer server heating system

Computer servers are essential to our modern way of life. They process all sorts of things for us, from university research, online shopping to holiday selfies.

All these servers in data centres around the world generate so much heat some of them have been re-located to sub-Arctic regions so they can cool down without using vast amounts of energy. Now a small Dutch start-up company Nerdalize, founded in 2013, could have the answer – using them to warm people’s homes.

Nerdalize has down sized the standard server into something to the dimensions of a domestic electric radiator, and the installation is pretty simple: the server is installed into your main living room, a vent is installed outside for excess heat and then it’s connected to the fibre optic broadband.

As the servers process your data, the heat is circulated around the home and during the summer when it’s not needed it’s vented outside. The electricity used to power the server is fully reimbursed and it’s maintained by Nerdalize at no extra cost.

The computer boffins among you may see a fatal flaw in this scheme, data security. According to Nerdalize this might actually be one of its benefits, the units themselves are physically and electronically tamper proof. If tampering is detected the server stops all operations, wiping all its contents. They also profess the data by having many small scale servers in homes dotted across the country, it makes it virtually impossible for criminals to gain access to all of them collectively, which isn’t the case with data centres.

At the moment the servers only have small 1kW units which will help you to heat your home, but maybe not all of it. You still might need to use your existing heating system for top ups. But these servers will chop down your heating bills and prevent the need for energy hungry data centres.

Nerdalize only operate in the Netherlands at this stage but they can offer sustainable cheaper heat and computing power so this may not be the case for long.

James is part of the data and analysis team and is the co-head of the London Sustainability Group at the Energy Saving Trust. James’ passion for the environment drives him to become a farm and bat volunteer, a climate change blogger and an avid learner of all things sustainable.

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Looking forward to hearing more about this technology. Hopefully, it becomes available to wider number of consumers in the near future.