Computer servers generating heat while solving complex computational tasks will be installed in five Dutch households as part of a trial testing a novel concept for cutting utility bills.
The project is a partnership of leading Dutch energy company Eneco and Nerdalize, a start-up pioneering the concept of so called e-Radiators – double-use devices serving as heaters as well as data centres.
The firm says that by utilising the heat – a by-product of the computing operations, which would otherwise be wasted – the e-Radiators save energy and reduce carbon emissions.
The Nerdalize founders said the e-Radiator idea was sparked one day when a thermostat broke down in their home, forcing them to huddle near a laptop to keep warm, joking about buying 100 laptops to heat up the whole house.
Boaz Leupe, one of Nerdalize's founders, said: "Ten minutes later, we thought: 'That's not such a crazy idea'."
During the trials, Nerdalize will pay for the electricity powering the devices with the Eneco customers getting the heat free.
Nerdalize plans to rent the e-radiators to companies and research institutions as a cheaper alternative to housing servers in data centres.
Institutions including the Leiden University Medical Centre have subscribed for the trial, which will allow them to access the data processed through the e-radiators directly through the cloud.
The trial will run at least until the end of 2015, after which the companies will decide whether to make the technology available to furhter customers.
On its website, Nerdalize says that due to the double use of energy for both heating and computing the e-radiators operate 55 per cent more cheaply than major cloud-providers while offering ‘incredible performance.’