Dutch Company Comes Up With an Ingenious Way to Heat Water for Free

Neal Fowler / CC BY-NC 2.0

Neal Fowler / CC BY-NC 2.0

Nerdalize, a startup in the Netherlands, is running an experiment that could save companies and house-dwellers lots of money while also helping protect the environment. The basic idea is that companies can have Nerdalize install servers in private houses, where the energy released from the machines will heat their water for free.

From The Verge:

You know just from using a laptop that computers give off a lot of excess heat. For data centers containing tens of thousands of servers, this is a big problem, wasting energy and money. To try and mitigate this, companies have experimented with moving facilities to near the Arctic Circle and even submerging servers underwater. But Dutch startup Nerdalize has a different approach. Rather than trying to dissipate excess energy from servers, it wants to harness it, using it to heat people’s homes instead.

The setup is simple enough: you pay Nerdalize to install a server in your home; it heats your house for free; and Nerdalize makes money by selling the server space to other companies. Back in 2015, the company unveiled its first product — a standalone wall heater powered by a single server that was used in a year-long pilot in five households. The heaters were slow, taking about an hour to warm up, and fairly weak, only providing enough heat for a small room. But they worked. And Nerdalize is now moving on to a second pilot that integrates its sever-heat more tightly with customer’s homes.

Starting in August, Nerdalize plans to equip 42 Dutch households with servers to heat their water supply, providing, it says, hot showers using nothing more than data. (Well, data, and piping-hot silicon.) The company says its setup will save customers €300 a year ($336) while costing companies 50 percent less for data services. Each installation also takes three tons of CO2 away from a household’s carbon footprint. Nerdalize says it’s a “win-win-win” scenario, and has launched a crowdfunding campaign to expand the project. Its reached its initial goal of €250,000, and is now aiming to raise half a million euros.

While some questions remain unanswered, such as how breakdowns will be handled and privacy secured, the project seems to be going forward at full speed.

Read more here.

— Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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