What if you could pay a one-time fee of $400-$500 and have free heating for life? I don’t know about you, but that only 3-4 months of my heating bill. I, personally, would jump at an opportunity like that. And now, a small European company called Nerdalize is working to make that happen.
Nerdalize is primarily a Cloud server company. Their greatly nerdy, Star Wars inspired motto is, “This is the Cloud you’re looking for.” As you may or may not know, “The Cloud” is in reality collections of giant servers that store your data for you; often in warehouses called “data centers.” Anyone who has taken the name “laptop” literally (that is, used one on your lap for an extended period of time) knows that even small computers can get really, really, ball-scorchingly hot. So, needless to say, data centers produce insane amounts of heat. In fact, even with all of the electricity being used in data centers, many tech companies will spend up to 1/3 of their energy budget on cooling these servers. Nerdalize looked at this “waste heat” and saw dollar signs (or, I suppose, Euro signs).
Together with Netherland energy company Eneco, Nerdalize has developed the Eneco eRadiator. What it is, in very simple terms, is a data server that you install in your home that acts as a radiator. That’s it. High-intensity data processes would be routed through your home eRadiator/server and the heat caused by this computing would heat your house. And if there are no computations to perform, the eRadiator runs dummy computations to keep you nice and toasty.
Obviously, there are a few downsides. For one, this technology is currently only available in Continental Europe. Another problem, as pointed out by Kamin Whitehouse (no relation) of University of Virginia, is the cost of maintaining these units. The biggest concern is, of course, data security. Cloud servers are infamously prone to hacking, and–despite their “tamper-proof” casing–putting a server itself that’s hard-wired into a network of other servers in other people’s homes and businesses seems to be inviting trouble.
But this is an interesting idea. In fact, it’s already being used by Amazon offices in Seattle. They are harnessing waste heat from a data center at the Westin across the street to heat their offices.
Could this be the next big thing in home and server technology? The obstacles would seem to indicate that it probably is not; at least not in its current form. But, you have to admit, it’s a neat idea.
Billy is a freelance writer living in Indianapolis with his dog, BoJack. He enjoys TED talks, video games, sunny days, football, and the salty tears of his enemies.