Heat Your Home for Free! (Strings Attached) Code Name: Nerdalize
From obscure old Osmonds songs to the latest eco-news, I’m covering all the bases here. ‘Eclectic’ isn’t my middle name, but maybe it should be. On second thought, maybe not. But still… I love music, but without a comfortable home in which to listen to it, what’s the point? I love the frivolous and the ephemeral, it’s true, but I’m also deeply concerned about the capital B.S. Big Stuff. Like energy.
Regardless of the current price of oil, we’re living in a world that’s sooner or later (sooner) going to run up against the wall of diminishing returns when it comes to cheap fossil fuels. That’s why whenever I see a new idea in the field of energy, I get kind of excited. Like the Nerdalize eRadiator.
Nerdalize: Great Name? Maybe Not. Great Idea? Definitely.
A company based in the Netherlands, going by the name of Nerdalize, has come up with what I think is a pretty novel idea. But first, let me tell you about computer servers. Stay with me, because it’s pretty important to the Nerdalize story.
Once upon a time, some really smart guys and gals came up with the electronic computer. It was pretty popular, and it eventually became an indispensable part of our global society, and the computer grew to basically take over running the entire economy of the whole wide world. By joining groups of computers together, and letting them communicate with each other no matter where in the world they were physically located, computers could do anything. This web of interconnected computers came to be known as the Internet. And boy, did it ever change the way we do everything. We humans grew to be fairly attached to these computers, which over time grew smaller and smaller, and more and more powerful, until they reached a point where they could be carried around in our pockets.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes at the big huge computer and communication companies, lots and lots of super-powerful computer devices became necessary to store all of the data that was being created by all of this Internet action. These computers are known as servers. They store all of the information that we think of as “The Internet,” all the websites, and music files and digital pictures, and all our financial information, our medical records, EVERYTHING. This website you’re wasting time on right now? It’s on a server. It’s true!
The dirty secret about servers? Well, it’s not necessary dirty, unless you stop to consider all the electricity needed to power all of these servers. Computer servers use a lot of power. Our shiny new digital economy uses about 10% of all the electricity consumed worldwide. Since so many servers are needed (and their numbers grow every year,) they’re usually kept in centralized locations in large numbers, known as server farms. One large server farm can consume as much electricity as 180,000 residential homes.
Crunching all those numbers and performing billions of functions every minute requires a lot of power, and it also creates a lot of heat. A whole hell of a lot of heat. And the ironic thing about all of this? Servers hate heat. Too much heat makes servers shut down, and that means bye bye internet. So, in addition to all the power and heat the servers themselves create, server farms are required to run all kinds of air conditioning to keep things cool. Obviously, all this a/c requires even more electricity. It’s crazy!
And this brings us back to the little Dutch company Nerdalize. Nerdalize is a company that sells computer server services to companies that require such things. But the Nerds at Nerdalize (I’m assuming they refer to themselves as nerds, I’m not trying to be mean.) have a different idea about where to store their servers.
Instead of running large warehouses of data servers, and all the air conditioning that that requires, Nerdalize thought, why not decentralize the servers and store them somewhere where all that server heat could actually be used for something, rather than being treated as waste with lots of air conditioning? It’s a good question, you have to admit. And being located in the Netherlands, Nerdalize thought they had a good spot for all their heat-producing servers: all those residential Dutch homes that need heat all winter long. (It gets pretty cold in the Netherlands. Or so I’m told. By the folks at Nerdalize.)
The Nerdalize eRadiator: How It All Works
The questionably-named Nerdalize came up with a better name for their server product: The eRadiator. Since data servers don’t really need to be all in the same place anymore in our interconnected, cloud-based computer world, it makes sense to decentralize them in the name of energy savings. Nerdalize places their eRadiator servers in the homes of volunteers (don’t worry, it’s not a mandatory thing.) The eRadiators are designed to look nice in a home decor, and once they’re installed and working, the heat they generate is used to heat the home it’s in. This reduces (or eliminates) the need for the homeowner to use other heat sources such as a gas or coal furnace or wood heat.
Better yet, the eRadiator works at no cost whatsoever to the homeowner. Nerdalize pays for all the power required, just as they would if it were located in a server farm. But since they don’t need to cool all these servers down 24/7, their operating costs are much lower. It’s a total win-win: Homeowners get free heat, and Nerdalize can offer their services to companies at a much lower cost due to their lower operating costs.
Don’t believe me? Nerdalize has a video to prove it’s all for real:
This all seems like a great idea to me. While it really can’t be considered renewable energy, it is using energy that’s otherwise treated as waste with more energy to do something worthwhile. That’s almost just as good.
Nerdalize is a new startup company, and they are currently testing the eRadiator in a group of test homes in the Netherlands. Once they’ve finished the beta test, they will begin rolling the servers out to the public at large. Hopefully this, or something similar, will be coming to the U.S. sometime soon.