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Subsidized heat: free to the homeowner  RSS feed

 
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Bear with me here folks, this isn't going to sound Permie at the beginning, but it comes around.

I just came across this startup company today. What they are offering is to host servers in your house. Conventional server farms have a heavy cooling load. They stack huge numbers of these machines in buildings, then pay outrageous air conditioning bills to cool the machines off as they run. This company is proposing to do away with the buildings and air-conditioners and move the servers to someplace where the heat is wanted: your house. So they set up a machine in your house, you tell them about your electricity rates, they refund all of the price of the electricity used by the machine back to you, and you get to keep the heat. They make money by selling this computation power to businesses, institutions, scientists, etc.

It's a well-established business: Amazon sells billions in computation power every year. This company plans to undercut Amazon's prices by getting rid of their expense for buildings and air-conditioners.

This isn't the type of heating appliance that we talk about on Permies much, but if you think about it, I don't think it's so far out of line. We all want to heat our houses with as little environmental impact as we can, and saving the country from the existence or proliferation of server farms and their huge energy consumption lines up with that ideal just fine, I think. The fact that the heat is free to the homeowner, well that's just gravy.

Right now, there's no product available. But they do have an application page. You give them your name and email address to get on the newsletter, and you give them your city, state, the number of rooms in your house, and how much heat you're hoping to get from your heater, and presumably that will help them persuade investors and make prudent manufacturing decisions.

So I think the more applicants they get, the more likely the project will come to fruition.

Have a look!

Http://nerdalize.com

 
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Big servers are potentially targets for terrorism. Spreading them to many residential units, seem a great way to spread the risk. My guess is that insurance issues may be problematic.

I'm not an EMF guy, but I'll bet they would be afraid of this close proximity.
 
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This would be nice in the winter maybe but not in the summer!
 
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Link does not work
 
Mike Cantrell
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Ken Peavey wrote:Link does not work



Down again? It's the right link, but the website's been up and down today. They got mentioned in the NYT lately, and then Scott Adam's blog today, so they may be seeing a little too much traffic.
 
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Yes, this is something that makes sense. When I heard how much heat and energy waste goes into watching a streaming video, I felt guilty for three minutes or so. Then I remembered that zero point energy is just around the corner, and was invented long ago and so on.

And then I thought baout stacking functions.

And then I managed to find this thread!

But what are other ways we could stack these functions?

Because i really really think we we want the internet. Maybe not "Big Data" (streaming HD videos 24/7, 90% of the internet I think is porn, couldn't we do with like just 50%? like US military spending?) but being able to send information is REALLY helpful. LIke a site like , oh, permies.com for example. REALLY helps the ecosystem.

SO--what other ways of stacking functions could there be? (if EMF's are really a problem, or if you really couldn't solve the problem of where to put these in the summer).

I was thinking you could put cooling water through the whole server room (have to really water-proof the servers themselves) and use that to generate power. Probably not hot enough though.
Or could pump it to a building nearby to provide steam heat.
Or could grow year round on top of the server building, cooling it in summer, and in winter taking advantage of the warmth. (Of course, maybe lots of EMF bombardment not good for plants either?)
What else?

The other thing is, the engineer I was talking with (who said "all engineers worht their salt would say we have to go nuclear") said if you want to live with minimal electricity, you can't use your cell phone or the internet. Yes, the device is minimally draining, but the data transportation carbon and energy costs are enormous. I'm trying to figure out if that's really true, or if he's confusing his figures.

I found a statistic that it's something like 1.6 peta-joules per year used for streaming videos as of 2011 (and it was 2.3 for shipping DVD's that year) in the US. The study seemed a bit shaky, but probably in the ballpark. And it included end-user device energy costs. Not cost of producing DVD's, or servers, or end-user devices, from what I could tell, but just transmission costs vs. shipping-by-snail-mail costs.

Anwyay. Well, what's a peta-joule? it's 1,000,000,000,000,000 joules. A Quadrillion joules. That's on the order of 50,000,000 kwh. 50 million. That's a lot of energy the US is using per year.
But compare that with what we're using to heat our homes: I'd estimate about 40,000 kwH per year, to be a bit conservative. Tops would be 300,000 kwH/year according to one site (http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/how-much-heating-energy-do-you-use). If it's 40,000, then that times 115,000,000 (us census) households in america is about 4,000,000,000,000. So, that's several orders of magnitude greater.

Per individual, that would mean I spent 40,000 KwH on heat, and about a third of a KwH streaming videos in 2011. (Actually I didn't stream any videos in 2011). So, that's not very much.

Granted, that's an average of 1 movie per day or something, if I talked on Skype with video all day long it could go up another order of magnitutde, but it still seems very very low.

Anyone have a handle on this? can anyone find a mistake in my figures?

This article http://science.time.com/2013/08/14/power-drain-the-digital-cloud-is-using-more-energy-than-you-think/ says that a LEED-platinum-certified building in NYC still used more energy than almost any other building in the city just because of the computers inside it (and the cooling needed for them). IPhones in particular they cite as energy hogs.

But I'm still thinking that the lower-hanging fruit here is to get rocket mass heaters into more homes--or maybe get those servers into homes!--rather than trying to talk people out of their phone or computer use.





If I've messed up my figures here

 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Talked with engineer housemate about this idea.

Some thoughts: it would work for high concentrations of servesr in one house. For example, a rich person goes away each winter, they can use their house to store a whole lot of servers to keep the pipes from freezing, and have free elecricity instead of paying for heat. Security already in place.

One of the main objections he thought of is if you have physical access to a server,you can hack it.
Also, theft: you could pull out one blade from a server stack and put it in your pocket, it's woth about $1000 he said, and even if you can't sell it for that much on the black market that's a significant loss for the company.

But where this leads to that's more interesting to my mind is in hte big picture we need the internet to be more distributed, I think, so if part of it breaks down there's resilience in other parts. If one server farm got damaged in an earthquake or tidal wave or something--big problem. Global weirding will be an important consideration. Terrorists may also attack concentrated targets like this. Any kind of monoculture if it is too large for balance invites balancing forces.

So, putting a server in each home in the US would make sense.

Downside: there's a reason all the brain cells in the human body or any animal are located in one part of the animal. (OK, and there's also a heart brain and a stomach brain and a spinal chord, plus innervation of sensory and motor neurons throughout, but there's a big mass in the central nervous system, the "brain.") It's going to slwo things down. Counter point: it's normal to have a brain of a certain size, and funcitonal; itdoesn't keep growing larger and larger, however. There's a size ceiling.

onthe positive--the main objection (security breaches, if people hack into hte data) won't be an issue in a future where people don't care about money anymore. And we won't. Banking will no longer be a thing. We'll trade much more on an individual basis and have much more social capital. We'll be able to trust one another much more. And our innovations will me much less demanding of capital, and more along the lines of "here's a new design for a rocket mass heater, I'll put the blueprints up on line and people can send me $50 for a copy." That's much less of a security issue than investing millions in more complex research. eventually, like it or not, we are all going to learn to get along, so we could design for that.

We need the internet. THe internet really needs to survive this stage of human history, it would be a huge drag if it didn't. So let's have at least some distribution of the resource. No need to get rid of all or any server farms to begin putting a server or two in one's own home. In fact, maybe you can just do this by buying one and hooking it up to the internet and selling a bit of processor space back to the "grid", does anyone know? It would be the most expensive electric heater you'd ever bought, but it would be stacking functions, and it would be a good thing for future generations. And you'd make back money on the electricity spent and reduce the cost of cooling the sucker.
 
That new kid is a freak. Show him this tiny ad:
Solar Dehydrator Plans - Combo Package download
https://permies.com/t/solar-dehydrator
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