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Hot Computers Could Be Used to Heat Homes


When computer servers operate a complex program, they can get very hot. Cooling the servers can be costly. So researchers asked what would happen if the heat created by the servers could be captured and used?

Data centers of large Internet companies such as Google and Microsoft have thousands of computer servers. As these servers process information, they create large amounts of heat, so they need huge cooling systems. These systems send the heat into the air.

The Dutch company Nerdalize thinks paying for electricity to operate the servers and then paying again to cool them is a waste of energy. So it developed a device called the e-Radiator. It is a computer server that also works as a heating source.

Boaz Leupe is the chief executive officer of Nerdalize. He says the e-Radiator saves money because companies don’t have to pay to cool their servers.

“…The kilowatt hour you are using is used twice -- once to heat the home and once to compute the client’s task without the cooling overhead.”

He says five homeowners in The Netherlands are testing the heating device in their homes.

“We reimburse the electricity the server uses, and that we can do because of the computer clients on the other side, and, in that way, homeowners actually get heating for free, and computer users don't have to pay for the overhead of the data center.”

Jan Visser is one of the participants in the year-long experiment. He says the amount of heat produced by the e-Radiator depends on the work being done by the computer server. He says it cannot be used as the primary source of heat. But he is ready to try it.

He says if it provides enough warmth, he will be able to use his home’s heating system less, which will save him money.

Nerdalize says e-Radiators create heat temperatures of up to 55 degrees Celsius. It says the devices could save users up to $440 in heating costs a year.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

VOA Science Correspondent George Putic reported this story from Washington. Jonathan Evans adapted it for VOA Learning English. Christopher Jones-Cruise was the editor.

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Words in This Story

data n. facts or information used usually to calculate, analyze or plan something

reimburse – v. to pay someone an amount of money equal to an amount that person has spent

overheadn. costs for rent, heat and electricity that a business must pay and that are not related to what the business sells

server – n. the main computer in a network which provides files and services that are used by the other computers in the network

Do you think the e-Radiator will become a popular way to heat homes? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the comments section.

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