Heating Your Home with a Data Center

By Deane Barker on November 27, 2011

Turn On the Server. It’s Cold Inside.: This is either brilliant or ridiculous.  Perhaps both?  I love the idea, though.

The paper looks at how the servers — though still operated by their companies — could be placed inside homes and used as a source of heat. The authors call the concept the “data furnace.”

They acknowledge that it is more likely that data furnaces, if adopted, would be placed first in basements of office and apartment buildings, not in individual homes. But as a “thought-provoking exercise,” the authors give homes the bulk of their attention.

I worked at Citibank in Sioux Falls for 10 years.  The call center floors each had hundreds and hundreds of cubicles, each with a computer.  The accepted rumor was that the buildings were not explicitly heated, but just warmed by the CPUs of what amount to probably 5,000 individual machines.  It seemed a little far-fetched to me, but everyone swore it was the truth.



  1. Gigantothermy does apply to large buildings; exterior offices are likely to need heating due to their heat loss through windows and walls to outside, but interior offices might only need cooling and circulation.

  2. Gigantothermy — that’s awesome. Wikipedia tells me that it’s the phenomenon where larger animals are more easily able to maintain body temperature because more of their bulk is internal, and not along their body surface, where heat loss occurs.

    Same thing applies with a call center — relatively little of the call center runs along the outside walls. Most of the cubicles were in the middle, surrounded by nothing but more cubicles, each with their own little CPU-heater.

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