IBM Wants to Heat Homes with Data Center Waste Heat

IBM Wants to Heat Homes with Data Center Waste Heat

It's no secret that data centers are massive energy-suckers— in 2006 alone, data centers spent $4.5 billion on electricity.

IBM's Zurich Research Laboratory is attempting to counteract data centers' wastefulness by reusing their waste heat. 

The lab's own data center is cooling its servers with water that is used to heat a swimming pool in the area. The data center is cooled with a novel water pump system that absorbs heat from the computers. Excess heat is sold to the center's neighbors.

As a result of this process, the data center reuses 85 percent of its heat while consuming only half of the electricity it would normally use.

And IBM believes its technology could have big implications for the industry—a 10 megawatt data center could provide enough energy to heat 700 homes.

While building a water-cooled data center costs more upfront than an air-cooled one, expenses even out in one to two years because of energy savings.